Royal Challengers Bangalore

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Royal Challenger Banglore

To reach final: 3.10

Winner: 6.20 

For the new-look Royal Challengers Bangalore --- they retained only Virat Kohli and failed to buy back most of their players --- the pressure will be on to emulate if not better the results of the last two editions.

The fact that they were the runners-up in 2009 and the third-placed team in 2010, naturally will mean more expectations. The good news is that the new faces in the squad in many ways mirror those that the team management failed to get even after trying their near-best at the auction earlier in January.

The better news for them though could be that Anil Kumble will neither be bowling or plotting against the side he led so successfully in seasons two and three. Instead, Kumble will be joining the man most apt to take over from him in mentoring the side. On Tuesday, RCB expectedly named Daniel Vettori as the skipper.

The return of the crafty Zaheer Khan, India's best bowler in their successful World Cup campaign, and the buying of the quick Dirk Nannes along with the presence of the much-improved local lads Abhimanyu Mithun and S Arvind, could make for a potent bowling combination, one that will be undoubtedly be boosted by Vettori's smart spin.

To add to that are batting heavyweights Tillakaratne Dilshan and AB De Villiers, who will be joined by the lad who will be RCB captain one day, Virat Kohli. Add the left-handed Saurabh Tiwary and the batting too takes on an explosive look. Kiwi Ross Taylor, Bangalore's adopted son may not be missed all that much after all, even if it may be more difficult to bridge the gap left by Jacques Kallis' absence. Dilshan will attempt to fill that all-rounders' role and in Indian conditions can be expected to do a decent job with his off-spinners.

Overall the balance of the side is pretty good and should the team management decide to play Karnataka's CM Gautam as the wicketkeeper-batsman and free up De Villiers in the field, the combination of him and Dilshan will surely serve up a fielding treat as well. With veteran Rahul Dravid no longer in the side and Kumble watching from the sidelines, the fielding will certainly lift. Should Mohd Kaif take Dravid's place in the final eleven, RCB will have livewires all over the field.


Vettori's been there done that

Captain: Daniel Vettori's claim to fame is not restricted to his left-arm spin. The New Zealander is also known as one to get teams to punch above their weight, like he did in the just concluded World Cup, where the Kiwis made the semifinal. The genial man can bat too, which makes him a complete package.


Key players

Virat Kohli: From being a wise guy to developing a wise head on those young shoulders, Virat Kohli has grown not just as an attacking middle-order batsman but also as a potential leader. The Delhi lad, the only player retained by RCB, will look to showcase his developing batting and fielding skills on the field, as apart from his slick moves and keen fashion sense off of it.

Zaheer Khan: It'll be a homecoming of sorts for pace spearhead Zaheer Khan, who traded RCB's red for Mumbai's blue after the inaugural season. A go-to guy, his experience and guile prompted Vijay Mallya to bring back the Mumbai speedster. He will be the guiding force for the likes of Nuwan Pradeep.

AB De Villiers: With the ability to adapt, as and when the situation demands it, the responsibility of guiding RCB's innings will lie with AB de Villiers.

Squad: Virat Kohli, Saurabh Tiwary, Zaheer Khan, Cheteshwar Pujara, Mohd Kaif, Abhimanyu Mithun, CM Gautam, S Arvind, Mayank Agarwal, Arun Karthick, Asad Khan Pathan, Abrar Kazi, Ryan Ninan, Bharath Narayan, Nuwan Pradeep, Daniel Vettori (captain), Tillakaratne Dilshan, AB De Villiers (wk), Charl Langeveldt, Luke Pomersbach, Rilee Rossouw, J van der Wath, J Vandiar.


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