The Indian Premier League, IPL 2023 is currently underway in its 16th season. The inaugural match saw the defending champions Gujarat Lions take on Chennai Super Kings after a glittering opening ceremony which saw Bollywood stars take the center stage. RCB emphatically began their campaign on Sunday as they comfortably chased down 172 runs courtesy of Virat Kohli’s unbeaten 82 runs from 49 balls at a strike rate of 167.34. Would this be the year that RCB finally crosses the finishing line & claim their first-ever IPL title? The way Virat played in their first game, the Bengaluru fans can surely hope.
RCB striving for first-ever IPL title
Background – RCB’s Struggle
As IPL 2023 gets underway, RCB has been one of the most underperforming teams in IPL history. There have been six different winners. Out of 15 seasons, they have failed to make the playoffs on seven occasions. Out of eight times, they made it to the playoffs; they could only reach the Final on three occasions and lost all three (2009, 2011, 2016).
Change of management, chopping and changing of players drastically and a clear direction have been lacking in the RCB setup. Like every year, the issue has been an over-dependence on skipper Virat Kohli, who has gone on to score the most runs for the side every season. Continuous failure and mental depression made him relinquish the captaincy in 2021.
After leading the team for nine years, Kohli stepped down from RCB’s captaincy to hand over the reins to Faf du Plessis. But the change of captaincy still hasn’t borne fruit yet. Let’s have a look at the current scenario for the RCB team for what they have in store for this year’s mega-show event.
Dependence on Kohli
With arguably the best player of this generation at your helm and the person with the most runs in IPL history, major responsibility automatically falls on the shoulders of Virat Kohli. He is the only player to represent a single franchise since the beginning of 2008.
He has scored +400 runs in eight seasons of IPL, this shows the level of consistency with the bat of the Indian batting maestro. He peaked during IPL 2016 when he led RCB to the Final scoring a record-breaking 973 runs, the highest ever in a single season.
After a below-par IPL 2022 where he could only score 341 runs, he’d be eager to get back to scoring ways. In-form Kohli solves a lot of the problems for the Bengaluru side.
Kohli’s number of runs in each IPL season since 2008:
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Brilliant form in late 2022
After going through a difficult phase in his illustrious career where he was unable to score a century for three years, he turned around his fortunes in late 2022 with some exhilarating knocks for his Country.
He was the highest run-scorer in the T20 World Cup 2022 in Australia with 296 runs at a strike rate of 136.40 & the second-highest scorer in Asia Cup 2022 with 276 runs at a strike rate of 147.59. His knock against Pakistan at MCG would be remembered for ages.
Since the Asia Cup 2022, Virat has scored 1596 runs from 38 innings at an average of 53.20. The highest runs in this period by any player. RCB fans would be dearly hoping that Kohli continues his rich vein of form in IPL.
What does Kohli have to say?
Royal Challengers Bangalore won their opening IPL 2023 match against Mumbai Indians on Sunday. Kohli while talking in an interview said:
“If I can get to the level I want to play at and help the team, it will be exciting. I am just back to playing the way I do. There’s still a lot of room to get to my best which hopefully happens in the IPL if I am able to get to the level I want to play at and help the team and it will be exciting.”
One thing is for sure, if RCB has to redeem itself and clinch its first-ever IPL title, a lot will depend on how Kohli performs.