Bangalore: Play Bold is the new theme of Royal Challengers Bangalore but its not as if the side which for years now featured the likes of Virat Kohli, Chris Gayle and AB de Villiers, has run scared as such in the Indian Premier League (IPL) editions gone by. So let's just put down the latest tag line to a new marketing strategy and ask for the team to play some clever cricket instead in their bid to bag that most elusive trophy.
Royal Challengers Bangalore all-rounder Shane Watson. Pic/AFP
This is so as they haven't exactly been clever thus far. They have packed their side with too many batsmen and ignored the bowling to their peril; they have bought players in the auction at highly inflated prices for reasons other than cricket; they just haven't figured out where to bat someone like AB de Villiers (something as Kohli said yesterday, they started addressing last season), the list goes on.
That said, the fact is that they do start their IPL-9 season at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium today against Sunrisers Hyderabad with two distinct advantages over their previous campaigns. One, their skipper Kohli is in the form of his life — he's somehow made T20 batting look like an art and who would have thought that possible in such a format — and secondly they finally have a genuine all-rounder.
Sunrisers H'bad pacer Ashish Nehra during a practice session in Bangalore yesterday. Pic/PTI
Unlike Kohli, Shane Watson is all power, be it with bat or ball, and doesn't bother being clever as such but he is perhaps RCB's first buy who can walk into the team either as a bowler or a batsman. In the past they had Jacques Kallis, a fantastic Test all-rounder, but he wasn't as suited to the shortest format.
"I know as an all-rounder I give the team good options. That's always been my asset and I suppose I'm fortunate with the skill set that I have," Watson said a couple of days ago. Well those exact skill sets are what RCB paid all of Rs 9.5 crore for, for once the reasoning for the big spend being all about cricket.
The team think-tank though will grapple with batting Watson at the top with Gayle or down in the middle, which will be a new role for him but lend the side some great batting depth. Not an easy decision to make but it must be remembered nothing in life comes easy. Certainly not the first triumph as RCB know all too well.
RC Bangalore Virat Kohli
> He continues his fine form
> Big-hitter Chris Gayle provides a flying start
z Pacer Mustafizur Rahman leaks runs
Sunrisers Hyderabad David Warner
> Pacer Ashish Nehra is among wickets
> B'desh's Rahman makes a memorable IPL debut
> Adam Milne goes wicketless