Much has been written about Bangalore’s lack of silverware in the Indian Premier League. On paper, players’ star quality in the squad belies their 3 runner-up finishes in 12 years of the IPL. Last year, they finished fourth after making the playoffs. Hyderabad knocked Bangalore out in the eliminator.
Despite the heartbreak, it doesn’t stop them from trying. They had 35.9 crores (USD 4.9 million approx.) to spend during the 2021 IPL auction. They spent 34.05 crores (USD 4.68 million approx.) on three players – Glenn Maxwell, Kyle Jamieson, and Dan Christian. The trio comes in with different skill sets.
Maxwell comes into the team on the back of a good run for the Australian national side. Bangalore director of Cricket Mike Hesson has dubbed him the “X-Factor”. The team will look to make use of his skills as an all-rounder.
New Zealand’s left-arm pacer Jamieson was on the receiving end during the recently concluded T20I series against Australia. He gave away 175 runs in 15 overs. Hesson said in an interview that this is the first instance of Jamieson struggling at the highest level of the game and would not worry too much about his form.
For Christian, this is a return after three years to the IPL. He specialises in finishing games and has recently won four trophies in the global T20 leagues. Only Kieron Pollard has scored more runs between overs 17-20 in all T20 competitions since the 2018 IPL final.
All eyes will be on Captain Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers. Kohli comes into the tournament with a consistent flow of runs under his belt against England in the recently concluded T20I series. During a post-match presser, Kohli said he could open the batting for Bangalore during this year’s IPL.
Former South Africa International de Villiers will play a critical role in setting the team up with runs. He will also have to chase targets down deep into the Indian summer evening. With Kohli, the two have always been formidable and hold numerous T20I batting records together. The problem is not with the marquee players.
The team is coming off a season that saw issues with the squad’s stability, injuries, and a reliance on the Kohli-de Villiers duo. Their star opener Devdutt Padikkal scored 737 runs in 7 innings during the recently concluded 2021 Vijay Hazare Trophy. Unfortunately, he will miss the season-opening game against Mumbai courtesy of a Covid-19 positive result.
Despite the roadblocks, the team has worked closely with Hesson, who has spent most of 2021 in India. The former New Zealand head coach set up a base in Bangalore to monitor progress in a training camp. He also followed Vijay Hazare, domestic and one-day cricket in the city.
Rounding up the batting would be Kerala wicket-keeper batsman Mohammad Azharuddeen, Finn Allen, Sachin Baby, and Washington Sundar as attacking options. Maxwell would ideally be tasked with holding down the middle order.
Going down the squad, the spin bowling unit would be led by Yzvendra Chahal and Sundar. Maxwell and BBL compatriot Adam Zampa are also available options. It helps that most of the side’s games will be on spin-friendly tracks in Chennai and Ahmedabad.
Navdeep Saini and Mohammed Siraj will lead the fast bowling unit. This IPL is Jamieson’s first India series. Australians Daniel Sams and Kane Richardson round up their fast bowlers. Some say this is their weakest link.
The fickle nature of T20 cricket aside, all indications point towards a successful IPL campaign for the Bangalore-based side. Kohli comes into the tournament on the back of series wins against Australia and England. He is also looking ahead at the T20 World Cup later this year in India. Individual performances aside, he would want nothing less than a win for the franchise that has been loyal to him from the start.
It all comes down to several factors, including squad management, playing conditions, and a bit of luck. Time will tell if the famous trio of Virat, ABD, and Maxwell can finally seal the deal. It all depends on who writes his script well this season.
Squad: Virat Kohli (c), AB de Villiers, Devdutt Padikkal, Yuzvendra Chahal, Mohammed Siraj, Kane Richardson, Washington Sundar, Pavan Deshpande, Finn Allen, Shahbaz Ahamad, Navdeep Saini, Adam Zampa, Kyle Jamieson, Glenn Maxwell, Rajat Patidar, Sachin Baby, Mohammed Azharuddeen, Daniel Christian, KS Bharat, Suyash Prabhudessai, Daniel Sams, Harshal Patel.