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Same old story!

After yet another RCB flop, there should be a rethink on Kohli

That can be said about Virat Kohli’s Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) team and its fans. Like any other year in the last 11 seasons, like any other squad full of stars, Virat has failed to lead his team to this eluded title of Indian Premier League (IPL).

A bitter loss in the last league game to Rajasthan Royals faded away any chances of progressing to play-offs and Virat critics are simple pointing towards a scenario where either RCB should take the armband away from Team India skipper or he, himself, should follow the footsteps of his Delhi team-mate Gautam Gambhir.

Appalling performances
Imagine a scenario where likes of AB de Villiers (now retired), Brendon McCullum (retired), Quinton de Kock and not to forget Virat himself are lined up to face their opponents.

Any bowler in the opponent camp would have got scared to bowl to such a line-up. Unfortunately, Virat has failed to inspire his troops during games and the players have performed far below their potential. Like any other season in the past, RCB have not translated their strength into results on the field and that’s why some critics are now calling upon skipper to share a part of the blame for that.

RCB are one of only a handful of teams to have never lifted the IPL trophy yet and there is a growing demand to have a fresh face in charge that may change the fortunes of this outfit. Otherwise, how could one believe that RCB won just six of the 14 games this season despite possessing such great talent.

Virat has been RCB’s leader since 2013 and it has only been once that RCB came close to win the title in 2016, when it eventually finished runners-up. Otherwise, RCB run under Virat could well be termed as fairly unimpressive. Like the ongoing season, the current Team India skipper failed to take his team to play-offs stage in 2013 and 2014, too.

In 2017 also, Bengaluru based team failed to go beyond the league stage due to below par performances of star players. There has hardly been a doubt that Virat has been a successful skipper for national team, but has failed to achieve the similar success for his franchise till date. His inability to use youngsters like Washington Sundar or Yuzvendra Chahal at crucial moments during the ongoing IPL season has come under the scanner of his critics.
In comparison to Virat’s lacklustre leadership, Kane Williamson (Sunrisers Hyderabad), Dinesh Karthik (Kolkata Knight Riders) or Mahendra Singh Dhoni (CSK) look fresh and inspirational leaders with solid tactical planning.

Addressing key issues
Apart from the inconsistent batting, RCB’s bowling also didn’t click from the start of the season. And Virat only contributed with his indecision of relying mostly on Umesh Yadav. Other bowlers like Chahal, Mohammed Siraj, Corey Anderson etc were not used properly during the crunch moments or death overs.

Virat’s field placements and bowling changes left a lot to be desired. RCB also struggled to find the right balance, especially while using their foreign recruits. England all-rounder Chris Woakes was used in the initial phase of the tournament but was kept to fence after five games. Even though he gave away more than 10 runs in his each over, but his eight wickets did sooth things for his team. Moeen Ali had to wait towards the end of the league phase for chances. Having allowed Chris Gayle and KL Rahul to go to Kings XI this season, Virat had over dependence on De Villiers or his own performances to get any positive results.

Turning around
And when at peak of T20 season, a news came about Virat playing in County cricket stint instead of playing lone Test against Afghanistan was received as his desperate attempt to get some positive publicity. Virat has now finalised plans of playing for Surrey to prepare for India’s forthcoming Test tour of England.

There may be debate whether or not he should have played against new comers in the Test cricket?

But two things stand out in Virat’s decision. First, it shows that his priority is still been the Test cricket despite a lot of debate over whether this format will even survive after a decade or so or not. Second, he also understands that the upcoming tour of England would be of utmost importance to his personal career.

Having failed in England in 2013-14, where he looked like a novice against swing bowling, he doesn’t want to leave any stone unturned in setting the record straight. A win in England under his captaincy would certainly take all the negative away. And that’s why Virat wants to do everything to prepare in the best manner.
Virat has also learnt lessons from the last tour of South Africa where Team India went into the Test series under-prepared. By the time he or his team got acclimatised to the overseas conditions of SA, the hosts were already 2-0 up in the three Test series.

That’s why playing four-day matches in Surrey will be the most definitive step for Indian skipper. Even though, this may come at an expense where he could well have scored a big hundred against babies of Afghanistan or would have become part of cricketing history of leading first international Test team..

Instead, he has chosen to horn skills in England to counter the likes of James Anderson and Stuart Broad.

Road ahead
Now that Virat & Co are out of this edition of the IPL, RCB can keep some plans for the coming edition. The No. 1 priority for RCB management should be to employ proper scouts to rope in good domestic talents for the next season, apart from finding the right leader.

Last but not the least, the surprise announcement of De Villiers to retire from all forms of cricket will make it even more urgent for this struggling side to find an able replacement for a player, who would probably be never been replaced by anyone in world cricket!