It was another year of so-near-yet-so-far for Royal Challengers Bangalore. After reaching the Indian Premier League playoffs the third time in a row and defeating Lucknow Super Giants in the eliminator a couple of days ago, the expectations were high.
But at the Narendra Modi Stadium on Friday, RCB’s hopes were dashed as Rajasthan Royals handed Faf du Plessis’ men a seven-wicket defeat and stormed into the final.
While Mike Hesson, RCB’s director of cricket operations, admitted that after cruising at one point in time, the team perhaps fell ’20-run short’. But looking back at the season, where Mohammed Siraj and Virat Kohli struggled, the New Zealand coach was looking at the positives.
“If you rely solely on two or three players, then you are not going to make the playoffs. The beauty of our side is that we did not necessarily rely on all of our retained players. We built a squad around our retained players, but we did not have to necessarily rely on all of them. That was probably the most pleasing aspect, and that’s why so many players stood up,” Hesson said.
“Siraj is a fine bowler, he did not have his best tournament, but we know he will come back strong. He did not quite get those new ball wickets, did not get the ball swinging and lost a bit of confidence, but he will bounce back…”
While he would have ‘expected more’, Hesson was overall satisfied with Glenn Maxwell’s all-round show and even had a word of praise for Kohli, who had a rather forgettable outing.
“We started with Virat at No. three and moved him to top. He only got better and better as the tournament went on. Looked in good touch in the last four or five innings. When you get knocked out of the tournament, you can find areas where we need to improve. Pretty pleased with the way the team gelled this season…”
This season, the team’s biggest achievement was that it gave uncapped Indian players an opportunity to flourish. The likes of Rajat Patidar, Shahbaz Ahmed, and Mahipal Lomror proved their worth, along with the seasoned Dinesh Karthik, who was the ‘most consistent’ going at the backend of the innings. Even though Karthik did not have a memorable outing against the Royals in the second qualifier, the RCB camp wants to take the positives and move on to the next season.