In Kohli, AB de Villiers and Moeen Ali the Royal Challengers have three different yet very effective batsmen. Add to them the firepower of the talented Devdutt Padikkal and Australian limited-over captain Aaron Finch, the RCB line-up has that usual impregnable look. Finch has been in fine fettle too of late. From the auction they have also added Sri Lankan pacer Isuru Udana, a T20 specialist, and South African all-rounder Chris Morris.
The Royal Challengers have a good mix of bowlers in Yuzvendra Chahal, Umesh Yadav and Washington Sundar. They have a bit more balance on paper this time and the RCB will be hoping to stand on the podium this time, of course with the winners' trophy.
Tell whatever you want, but the batting of RCB will be hinged on the willows of Kohli and De Villiers. If they are looking for a change of fortune then RCB will require some serious contribution from the likes of Finch, Moeen, Devdutt, Shivam Dube, Parthiv Patel etc, and sporadic fireworks will not have any more than decorative value.
This shadow of imbalance haunts their bowling too. Yes, they have Chahal, Umesh and Washington who can make an impact on the pitches on UAE. But can others like Navdeep Saini, Mohammed Siraj and Dale Steyn support them consistently? Saini, who is still raw, and Siraj can go for runs while Steyn too has not played any competitive cricket after the Mzansi Super League last year. While the South African great's skills are redoubtable, it remains to be seen whether his now injury-prone 37-year-old body can last the race. It could make a decisive difference in some games at least.
Virat Kohli, AB de Villiers, Devdutt Padikkal, Gurkeerat Singh Mann, Moeen Ali, Mohammed Siraj, Navdeep Saini, Parthiv Patel, Pawan Negi, Shivam Dube, Umesh Yadav, Washington Sundar, Yuzvendra Chahal, Aaron Finch, Chris Morris, Josh Philippe, Kane Richardson, Pavan Deshpande, Dale Steyn, Isuru Udana, Shahbaz Ahamad.
4. Stars to watch out for
Virat Kohli, AB de Villiers, Yuzvendra Chahal, Aaron Finch, Umesh Yadav.
5. IPL prediction
Unless they found a way to churn out consistent team efforts, the RCB would once again be looking at a different team with envy. At this stage, we really don't have any evidence to think otherwise. Their best bet could be a place in play-offs but realistically they could end up on fifth or sixth.