The Royal Challengers Bangalore remain in pursuit of a maiden Indian Premier League. Perhaps the 2022 edition of the IPL will finally be their time to secure their first victory in a final.
The appointment of Faf du Plessis as captain is arguably a step in the right direction for the Royal Challengers, who are effectively moving on from the formal leadership of Virat Kohli.
Kohli is still playing, is part of the squad and should be picked in the XI for every match. But he won’t be skipper. That responsibility is now with du Plessis, who has joined RCB from the Chennai Super Kings.
Du Plessis, of course, has captained South Africa in Test, ODI and T20I cricket. He has a wealth of experience in other domestic T20 leagues around the world and should fit in with the team culture at Bangalore rather seamlessly.
It’s not unlikely that he will open the batting. He might just do this alongside Kohli, too. A successful combination at the top of the order from these two could certainly boost RCB’s chances of obliging competitive match odds at Sportland, who will be covering the IPL from the first ball of the opening match to the last delivery of the final.
Bangalore have reached three IPL finals. They have lost all three. Perhaps they can reach a fourth – and this time go all the way.
Du Plessis has plenty of international and local experience to work with. Among those at his disposal will be Glenn Maxwell. The Australian all-rounder has found a new home away from home at Bangalore, after his career hit a few hiccups amid an extended stay at the Punjab Kings. Du Plessis, like Kohli did before him, could use spinner Maxwell with the new ball now and then. With the bat, Maxwell is a veritable powerhouse in the middle order, but his arrival at the crease must be timed well according to scenario and circumstance. He is a great finisher – and du Plessis and company need to ensure Maxwell is afforded enough time, but not too much, at the crease to do what he does best.
Bowling-wise, du Plessis will have the likes of Mohammed Siraj and Harshal Patel to manage. These are two of India’s finest seamers at the moment, but need the right leadership, field placements and tactical awareness from those around them – namely their captain – to be at their very best. Siraj and Patel could grow into being a couple of India’s best seamers ever. Du Plessis could have a key role in making that happen.
In terms of the other international recruits available to RCB and du Plessis, there is England all-rounder David Willey, Sri Lanka leg-spinner Wanindu Hasaranga and Australian fast bowler Josh Hazlewood. There probably won’t be space for all of them in the XI all the time. The IPL allows a maximum of four non-Indian players per matchday XI. How du Plessis juggles these international resources will be central to how he is judged as RCB’s captain.