Profiling the fifth of nine IPL franchises ahead of the competition's fifth season, we take a look at Royal Challengers Bangalore, a team with an undoubted X-factor which finished second best last year. If they can channel the form shown in the previous IPL and Champions League Twenty20, along with improving their consistency, then RCB have the strength to win the league. After a stunning IPL 4, all eyes will once again be on Chris Gayle, who kickstarts the best top four in the competition.
Name: Royal Challengers Bangalore
Captain: Daniel Vettori
Coach: Ray Jennings
Owner: Dr. Vijay Mallya of UB Group
Cost of team: $111.6 million
Key players: Royal Challengers Bangalore believe in having big players in their ranks, especially those who have excelled in the Twenty20 format. Last year, with the inclusion of Chris Gayle, Bangalore's batting was given a tremendous lift. Now, with Gayle, Tillakaratne Dilshan, Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers, RCB have the strongest top four in the league.
On current form, Gayle and Kohli are the men to look out for. Gayle was in great touch in the Bangladesh Premier League, while Kohli's recent run for India in limited-overs cricket has been outstanding. Dilshan, known for his attacking style of play right from the word go, makes a deadly opening combination with Gayle. de Villiers is an ideal player in any situation and then there is RCB's skipper Daniel Vettori, who in recent years has proved his worth as an allrounder. Vettori as captain is a plus for Bangalore; he is cool and doesn't get flustered in pressure situations, and remains a miserly left-arm spinner and useful batsman. Moreover, Bangalore have a couple of domestic players in Cheteshwar Pujara and Saurabh Tiwary who give the side a right balance.
Then there is the bowling attack, spearheaded by Zaheer Khan and Dirk Nannes. If from one end Zaheer will can moth the ball both ways, at the other is the nagging Nannes working up serious pace. The inclusion of Muttiah Muralitharan peps up their bowling further.
Strengths: Bangalore's biggest strengths are Kohli and Gayle and both of them will be the star attraction. As a team there is flamboyance, brashness and a bit of nonchalance when they take the field. In order to tame and inject some discipline, there is Anil Kumble as mentor, who with his no-nonsense attitude gives the team the right direction.
Weaknesses: Strength can become a player or team's biggest nemesis and in Bangalore's case it is their players overconfidence at times that takes them down. One more chink in their armour is their consistency, as they have been prone to fail keeping the momentum going before finding themselves cornered. Their bowling on a few occasions has also been found wanting, despite being in possession of an attractive range of bowlers. Again, what aggrieves them is consistency.
2011 performance: During the auction, Bangalore took the risk of retaining only one player when they had the option to keep four. However, Kohli was retained and the rest of the players were thrown into the auction pool. The result was a solid bargain as Vettori, de Villiers, Zaheer and Dilshan were acquired. Then they grabbed Gayle once the league began, and the West Indian proved monumental in taking RCB to the final where they eventually lost to Chennai Super Kings by 58 runs.
2012 prospects: Bangalore finished second best team last year in the IPL and the Champions League Twenty20, which shows they are a much improved side. They have come so near to lifting the title and this could act as a catalyst to motivate them for glory. The team is desperate to lay their hands on the elusive silverware. In the last couple of seasons, Bangalore have played some excellent cricket and this year they have to go with the same flow.