Started from the Top, now here….

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“RCB!! RCB!!!” The loud cheer that greeted India’s most loved team last year faded exponentially this time around.  A forgettable 10th season hindered the Royal Challenge from Bangalore. 3 all-outs and 2 <100 scores too emphasize the statement. In a competition where every team tried to strike balance in the squad, more than 25 squad changes in 13 matches is evident to justify the contrasting purple for Kohli and his team.  RCB was always considered a front-runner for the title. In turn, a discouraging start with the bat against the Sunrisers seemed a dress rehearsal of the misery which awaited them.

The real vows for RCB started even before the tournament began. Administrative issues had to be sorted and a few major reformations drafted in. Some serious efforts ensured that the franchise was upheld throughout the season. One blow was followed by another. Long cricketing season had cost many players dear and a plague of injuries worsened the cause.  Mitchell Starc, AB De Villiers, Virat Kohli, KL Rahul, Sarfaraz Khan, Sachin Baby, Samuel Badree were set to miss at least a few matches. Tymal Mills bought in as a replacement for a whopping 12.5crores also ended up pulling his hamstring by the end. Likes of Travis Head, Pawan Negi, Billy Stanlake, Aniket Chaudhary, Vishnu Vinod were brought in as a try to attain the desired stability. Coach Daniel Vettori despite all initial deep waters was keen on swimming efficiently against the tides. However, the new signings never lived upto the expectations, the head never cropped up, the juggernaut never went rolling as RCB continued to sink into the rock bottom even after winning 9 out of the 13 tosses. The only two wins of the season which came against the Gujarat Lions and Delhi Daredevils were also criticized as nothing but a stroke of luck.

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The team always banked upon the Top 3 to fire but that wasn’t meant to be the case this year. The Gayle-storm which took everyone by surprise then; never arrived, the Kohli Classics which the world experienced last year went diminishing, and so did the ABD mayhems RCB often resided to. An irresponsible batting display from the senior squad members amassed pressure to which the inexperienced middle order succumbed astonishingly. Shane Watson, another senior experienced campaigner didn’t live upto the expectations either. Unstable opening combinations, inefficient bowling attack and frequent shuffle in the batting order hampered team’s performance to a huge extent. Though a few individual performances did stand out in certain encounters, the entire unit never struck the required octaves. Days when bowlers fared extremely well, batting fizzled out its stay. And similarly, when batting did wonders, the bowlers reached all corners of the ground. Be it those crucial Pawan Negi contributions, the valiant single-handed AB DE Villiers’ 89* against Punjab or Samuel Badree’s hat-trick against the Mumbai Indians, RCB could never capitalize on confident starts and could never get the momentum swing their way.

A team which could never make the #PlayBOLD
A team which could never grasp a strong hold.

M Chinnaswamy Stadium in the heart the garden city too went wayward with its 22 yards. An uncharacteristic pitch with a lot of turn and no pace handed the team a Royal Challenge in itself. Home conditions seemed deserted and it jolted team’s confidence manifold. 1 win from 7 home matches highlights the fact that 2017 is RCB’s worst season ever. A team known for hitting massive sixes could not even manage to match up the average, perhaps the only thing RCB would immaterially take away from this competition is Head’s 109m six, the longest of the tournament. Unlike other franchises, youngsters failed to step up and deliver for the last year finalists. RCB’s rock bottom was exposed when they were bundled out for mere 49 runs at the Eden Gardens against KKR, the lowest score ever in IPL history. Meanwhile, as Virat Kohli reciprocated the devastated feeling in every post-match presentation, RCB re-displayed the same performance every match. Lack of intent, poor execution of skills, uncalculated risks and impatient play could never make the play BOLD.

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With a loss comes misery; with a miserable defeats come criticism and what follows criticism is the social attack.. While it went on being horrifying for the fans, the players too stepped up and posted bold support-appreciation and apology messages on twitter. A fan quoted “RCB is not just a team, it’s an emotion! An emotion that reverberates through every single chair at Chinnaswamy and an emotion that runs through every fan.We are sure of rising back from the ashes next year.”

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The spirit amongst the fans is commendable and somewhere between a forgettable season and social torture, the fans still stand winners. Starting from scratch next year with a whole new bunch of players, RCB will look to make inwards to the title overcoming all their flaws.

 

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