A series of articles where fans from each team were asked a set of questions ahead of the start of the season. The team in focus here is Royal Challengers Bangalore, and Vedang Gutgutia presents his point of view about his favourite team.

  • RCB; what does this team mean to you? How emotionally attached are you to RCB and what makes them your favorite team?

Embarrassing as it may be for most, I am a proud switcher in 2014. I am a huge Sachin Tendulkar fan so it had to be Mumbai Indians for me when IPL started and I supported MI like crazy till Sachin played. 2014 is when I decided to look at all teams from a neutral eye and pick the one team I would like to follow because MI didn’t feel the same without Sachin. That’s when I started following RCB, a team that brought some another level of energy onto the field led by Kohli. Over the years, I have grown deeply attached to the team as a fan. That I moved to Bangalore to start working in 2017, made it even more special. Now I have a personal connection with Bangalore city also. Experiencing a match at Chinnaswamy is a whole other experience. The stadium is so small and stands are so close to the ground that you are much more involved in the game than you will ever be in Eden or Wankhede.

Altogether, it started with the team combination in 2014 when I looked from a neutral’s POV and eventually the personal connection I made with Bangalore city, is what made RCB my favorite team, most likely for life! (Unless of course my hometown of Jamshedpur manages to get a team for themselves :P)

  • RCB, despite having two of the best batsmen of this era, have failed to lift the trophy even once. This time though, their bowling looks better balanced. How do you rate the squad for the upcoming season?

Finally, we have the most balanced team ever! We have proper first choice players and an equally good backup for each position. While RCB have had some really big names in the past, they always lost out because of inexperienced lower middle order and bowlers. 

RCB now have Finch to open- an aggressive opener who can also play the anchor role if needed. In Padikkal we have a 19 year old emerging local Karnataka player known for his hitting prowess (176 SR in 20 T20s). I hope the viral picture of ABD practicing with keeping gloves is really true and we don’t need to forcefully pick PP. As a backup, we also have Josh Philippe- the T20 specialist. 

The middle order doesn’t need any discussion.The poster boys of RCB- Kohli and ABD. Though both of them scored in excess of 400 runs in the 2019 IPL, they would agree it was a hot and cold season for them and I am confident this season will be a repeat of 2016 IPL(or even better *wink*).

The lower middle order- Morris brings huge experience to the otherwise young Indian talent of Sundar and Dube. In backup we have Moeen, Gurkeerat(ex-KXIP) and Sri Lanka’s matchwinner Udana- all 3 equally good to replace anyone.

So far Chahal was leading the spin department alone and quite successfully. But a last moment entry in Zampa makes things interesting. With Sundar, we already have 2 spinners but with many games back to back, and pitches expected to wear out, we might see spin play a huge role and then Zampa might get preferred over Morris or Steyn for that 4th overseas slot. There is also Negi to mix things up. 

Seamers- A fit and rested Steyn should be fiery. How he maintains his fitness through a long IPL in hot UAE conditions will be interesting to see. Saini, is a much much more experienced bowler that 2019, having played quite a few games for India. Umesh Yadav must be raring to prove his credentials as a LOI bowler for India. Also, available for selection is Siraj.

  • RCB have a good bunch of foreign players this season. Which four foreign players do you think should make it to the XI?

I think RCB should start with Finch, ABD, Morris and Steyn. Based on how the pitch turns out as the tournament progresses, Zampa could (read: should) be preferred over Steyn. If Steyn needs regular breaks to manage workload, Udana could be a good try to mix things up.

  • Which team or teams do you think poses the biggest threat to RCB this season and why?

Mumbai Indians! What a brilliant squad they have come up with. Based on my predicted 11- they bat all the way to number 8, might open with QDK+Lynn with Rohit at 3, an in-form Pollard in the middle with Pandya brothers and a bowling combo of Boult-Bumrah to start the innings with. What a scary lineup for any opponent! 

  • RCB are usually at the centre of all the trolls going around, mostly because of their over-reliance on Kohli and ABD and misuse of all other resources. What would you make of the trolls?

To be very honest, RCB’s performance over the years have been disappointing. For a team having the best batsman ever since Sachin Tendulkar and the 360 ABD, RCB have done poorly. We have always done bad at auctions and have paid the price. Over-the-top fans have not helped the cause any better. 

But let them trolls come, “Ee sala cup namde!”

  • The rivalry and fan-wars between the fans of RCB and CSK that keeps going on in social media. How do you feel about the rivalry?

Any rivalry is a good rivalry. I know the rivalry is mainly a Kohli-MS one and both sets of fans trying to prove who the better leader is but I don’t really enjoy that as much. I personally enjoy MI-RCB games more because of the quality of cricketers the two teams bring to the ground. Kohli v Rohit fan banter excites me more and watching Kohli facing Bumrah or Rohit facing Chahal more fun. 

  • With Adam Zampa added to the squad and UAE being a venue known to assist spin, how do you rate RCB’s spin attack? Is there enough support for Chahal?

I think RCB has the best spin attack in this IPL with DC a distant second. With Chahal and Sundar sure starters and Zampa,Moeen and Negi available for selection as and when the pitches start to deteriorate, the department looks sorted. That Moeen,Sundar and even Negi are decent batters, also gives the think-tank to play with an extra spin option at all times without compromising much on the batting end.

  • What has been your most favourite RCB moment over the years? You can also name multiple moments.

Not a difficult question,eh? Impossible to look past that epic RCB v GL game of 2016! With AB and Kohli, you expect them to play some amazing shots but the way they enjoyed that innings having fun laughing around, it’s just too good. What an innings it was. Beautiful :’) 

  • Who has been the most valuable player for RCB according to you till date? And who will be their most valuable guy in 2020?

While it is tough to look at anyone but Kohli, who has done extremely well to become the leading run scorer of IPL, but then that was expected from him being the best batsman to play for India since Sachin!

In my opinion, Chahal has been the most valuable player of RCB. To lead the bowling department the way he has, especially in the batsmen friendly short boundary Chinaswamy stadium, deserves a lot of credit.

In 2020, I expect one of the openers to be the most valuable- Finch or Padikkal. I’ll be the happiest if it’s Padikkal as I’ve been rooting for him since I saw him first in 2018-19 Ranji!

  • Where do you see RCB finishing this season? Will they create history by lifting the trophy for the first time?

A settled and experienced top-order, a very good spin bowling department and a good supporting pace attack- This year RCB have the best overall squad. Anything but a top 4 finish will be a disappointment. 

Winning the trophy? “Ee sala cup namde :D”