The sixteenth season of the Indian Premier League is all set to get underway on March 31. Top T20 superstars from across the globe will be going head to head in the grandest T20 league in the world. Gujarat Titans are the defending champions while nine other teams will be looking to snatch their crown. There will be a total of 70 matches in the group stage before the playoffs, with the final taking place on May 28.
Before the IPL 2023 gets off the mark, we bring you a segment where we discuss the history, strength and weaknesses of the franchises. Today we will be talking about Royal Challengers Bangalore. The men in red and gold are still hunting their maiden title. Can the current Royal Challengers Bangalore squad end the drought and win IPL 2023?
Royal Challengers Bangalore History
Royal Challengers Bangalore are one of the biggest franchises in the league when it comes to fan support and brand value. But they have never won a title, having come close on a few occasions.
Their first big opportunity was in the second IPL edition when they reached the final but lost to the now defunct Deccan Chargers by six runs. In IPL 2011 they reached another final but this time were hammered by Chennai Super Kings.
RCB then had three back to back seasons where they didn't make it to the top four. They reached the playoffs in IPL 2015, where they defeated Rajasthan Royals in the Eliminator but lost Qualifier 2 versus CSK.
2016 was perhaps their best chance of winning the title, when some of their stars were at the peak of their powers. They defeated the now defunct Gujarat Lions in Qualifier 1 to reach the final. RCB were absolutely cruising to the title with 140/1 on the board in 12.4 overs while chasing 209 but suffered an unbelievable collapse and found themselves eight runs short.
The Virat Kohli-led side then had another slump, finishing at the bottom of the table in 2017 and 2019, and sixth in 2018.
Following three years of shambolic run, RCB roped in Mike Hesson as the Director of Cricket Operations, who also took over as the head coach in 2021. Royal Challengers have been able to restore some sanity and stability under Hesson.
They have made it to the playoffs in all three previous seasons. In IPL 2022, RCB defeated Lucknow Super Giants in the Eliminator before losing to Rajasthan Royals in Qualifier 2.
|IPL 2008||7th place|
|IPL 2010||3rd place|
|IPL 2012||5th place|
|IPL 2013||5th place|
|IPL 2014||7th place|
|IPL 2015||Qualifier 2|
|IPL 2017||8th place|
|IPL 2018||6th place|
|IPL 2019||8th place|
|IPL 2022||Qualifier 2|
Royal Challengers Bangalore Squad: IPL 2023
Faf du Plessis, who was appointed as the captain ahead of the previous season, will continue leading the franchise as they look to win their first IPL title. RCB didn't have much action during the 2023 auction barring a few players.
They bought England all-rounder Will Jacks for ₹3.2 crore but sustained a muscle injury and was ruled out of the season. RCB have replaced him with the in-form New Zealand all-rounder Michael Bracewell.
Royal Challengers also signed English left arm seamer Reece Topley for this season. With their premier pacer Josh Hazlewood's fitness not reliable, Topley is an excellent back-up to have.
Royal Challengers have suffered a big blow ahead of the season with Rajat Patidar likely to miss the first half of the season due to a heel injury. Patidar, who came in as a replacement midway through the season last year, did an excellent job for them with 333 runs from seven innings at a strike rate of 152.75.
RCB's star all-rounder Glenn Maxwell is returning from an injury layoff and could be a concern for the franchise. Maxwell had broken his leg and he recently admitted it will take months for it to be healed completely.
Among Indian players signed for this season are Manoj Bhandage and Sonu Yadav, two all-rounders who could be useful impact player subs.
Full Squad: Faf du Plessis (captain), Virat Kohli, Glenn Maxwell, Mohammad Siraj, Harshal Patel, Wanindu Hasaranga, Dinesh Karthik, Shahbaz Ahmad, Rajat Patidar, Anuj Rawat, Reece Topley, Akash Deep, Josh Hazlewood, Mahipal Lomror, Finn Allen, Suyash Prabhudessai, Karn Sharma, Siddharth Kaul, David Willey, Himanshu Sharma, Manoj Bhandage, Rajan Kumar, Avinash Singh, Sonu Yadav, Micheal Bracewell
Probable Playing XI: Faf du Plessis (c), Virat Kohli, Suyash Prabhudessai, Glenn Maxwell, Mahipal Lomror, Dinesh Karthik (wk), Shahbaz Ahmed, Wanindu Hasaranga, Harshal Patel, Mohammed Siraj, Josh Hazlewood
Royal Challengers Bangalore IPL 2023 Schedule
Royal Challengers Bangalore are placed into Group B with Chennai Super Kings, Sunrisers Hyderabad, Gujarat Titans and Punjab Kings. What it means is they will face these four teams once in the group stage and take on the five teams from another group twice.
The IPL 2023 will have a home and away fixtures format and that means RCB will play seven of their group matches at their home venue of M. Chinnaswamy stadium in Bengaluru. RCB will kick off their season with a clash against Mumbai Indians at home on April 2.
Royal Challengers Bangalore Squad: Strengths and Weaknesses
As we mentioned above, Royal Challengers Bangalore have regained stability in their squad in the last three years. But they still have some challenges they will have to face in IPL 2023. Before we look into those, let's see their strengths.
Royal Challengers have a pretty good spin department led by the Sri Lankan leg-spinner Wanindu Hasaranga. He was the second highest wicket-taker of the IPL 2022, picking 26 wickets from 16 matches at an economy of 7.54. Hasaranga will have left arm spinner Shahbaz Ahmed and off-spin of Glenn Maxwell for support.
Faf du Plessis has been outstanding form at the top of the order and will be a key factor in how RCB do in the season. He has scored nearly 1000 runs since June last year, at an average of 31 while striking at 153. He has looked to score quickly in the powerplay.
Virat Kohli has had a few mediocre seasons in the IPL but he seems to be back to the top of his game. Kohli has scored 700 runs in T20 cricket since August last year, averaging 70 at a strike rate of 139.
This Royal Challengers Bangalore squad has plenty of issues to deal with. Fitness seems to be the biggest concern for them this season. Apart from Rajat Patidar, there are fitness concerns about Josh Hazlewood and Glenn Maxwell as well.
Hazlewood was one of their key players last year but hasn't been on the field consistently in the last few months due to an Achilles tendonitis injury. Their pace attack in his absence could be exposed as Mohammed Siraj hasn't yet delivered in the shorter format and Harshal Patel has had a bad stint in international cricket.
RCB's batting unit can be vulnerable against spin. Apart from the fact that they don't have a reliable left hander in the line-up, they will also miss Patidar who was their player of spin last season.
Dinesh Karthik was magnificent for Royal Challengers last season, scoring 330 runs at a terrific average of 55 and strike rate of 183. But age isn't on his side and he hasn't played any competitive cricket since last November. Will he be able to repeat his exploits in IPL 2023 remains to be seen.
Can RCB win the IPL 2023?
To answer if Royal Challengers Bangalore squad can win the IPL 2023, their chances don't look great. RCB have several issues to tackle and if they are to win, they will need their seniors to step up and have great individual seasons.