IPL 2020: RCB begin campaign against old nemesis Sunrisers
And once again, it will be their old foes, Sunrisers Hyderabad, that will be aiming to put a spanner in their works
Such was Virat Kohli's form in the 2016 Indian Premier League that no Royal Challengers Bangalore fan seemed overly worried after the Sunrisers Hyderabad had set a daunting target of 209 in the final.
After all, they had the talismanic Kohli leading them, using his willow like a wand, sending them into the playoffs with four majestic hundreds despite a sluggish start to their campaign.
But in the final, Kohli's 114-run opening partnership off 63 balls with Chris Gayle went in vain as the Sunrisers clawed their way back from the Gayle-Kohli mayhem, eventually keeping the RCB's poor record in the finals of the world's richest cricket tournament intact.
Now the RCB will hope to make a flying start at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium on Monday as they make another attempt to win that elusive trophy, having endured miserable campaigns after that 2016 final which they lost by eight runs.
And once again, it will be their old foes, Sunrisers Hyderabad, that will be aiming to put a spanner in their works.
But with the arrival of Australian white-ball captain Aaron Finch, spinner Adam Zampa and South African all-rounder Chris Morris, there is a renewed vigour in the RCB camp.
"We've got a great balance of experience, the skill required for T20 cricket and the youngsters in the team who are eager to take up the responsibility and look forward to opportunities that we're going to provide them," Kohli recently told RCB TV.
"It's an exciting time. As I said, that 2016 season which we've all loved to be a part of, it was such a memorable season. Since then, to be honest, this is the most balanced I've felt about the squad, as a system where we're heading. It's been very well taken care of now, it's up to us to execute those things on the field."
And AB de Villiers, RCB's South African batting genius, echoed Kohli's sentiment.
"There is a different feel this time, there is back up everywhere looking at our options. Virat and coaches can find the best playing XI, there are options in every single department, be it batting, bowling, and fielding," De Villiers said in a video posted on RCB's Twitter handle recently.
But David Warner, whose leadership skills and left-handed batting aggressiveness took the Sunrisers to glory in the 2016 IPL, has asked his team not to lose heart if they fail to win their opener against the RCB on Monday.
"We will try our best for that and if it doesn't happen, will re-work our strategies and hope to go the distance in the IPL," the Australian batsman said during a virtual interaction with the media.
"Every team has a perfect mix of world-class overseas players and quality Indian players. Ours is a pretty good balanced side in all departments," said Warner referring to the presence of experienced international stars Kane Williamson, Jonny Bairstow, Bhuvneshwar Kumar and rising Indian star Priyam Garg in their team.
"The boys have to just go out there and have fun, not take it too seriously. Like if you get angry you will tend to repeat the mistakes."
And it's the spin department that gives Sunrisers a massive edge with Afghan warriors Rashid Khan and Mohammad Nabi expected to flex their muscles on the slow wickets in the UAE.
"Some of them (the wickets) might assist the spinner in the second half of the games. We have three good spinning all-rounders in the team. So, let us wait and see how they shape up," Warner said.
And the fans can't wait either to see if the Sunrisers make the RCB bleed again.
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