Poor use of local talent, bad auction decisions have cost Royal Challengers Bangalore dear in IPL

Royal Challengers Bangalore have epitomised the worst of Indian sport, with its ‘chalta hai [it works]’ attitude this season. (AFP)
Updated 21 May 2018
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Poor use of local talent, bad auction decisions have cost Royal Challengers Bangalore dear in IPL

  • 2018 debacle – eight losses in 14 games – follows on the heels of a 2017 season where they won just three matches
  • Bangalore, both in terms of recruitment and on-field execution, were well off the pace in this year's IPL

The city of Bangalore can now boast of two extremely popular sports teams.
The football team, Bengaluru FC, has only been in existence since 2013. But that half-decade has been enough for them to become a beacon for Indian football, a role model of professionalism — the previous absence of which contributed so much to the slide down the world rankings from the 1970s.
The cricket team, in contrast, has epitomised the worst of Indian sport, with its ‘chalta hai (it works)’ attitude.
That would seem excessive criticism of a franchise that has reached three finals in 11 seasons (losing them all), but if you scratch beneath the surface, it is always individual brilliance rather than a robust team ethos that has been responsible for the team’s crests.
The 2018 debacle – eight losses in 14 games – follows on the heels of a 2017 season where they won just three matches. Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) have finished sixth or worse in three of the five seasons where Daniel Vettori has been coach.
Qualifying for the playoffs in 2015, and reaching the final a year later on the back of Virat Kohli’s 973 runs, was largely down to the triumvirate of Kohli, AB de Villiers and Chris Gayle being in such formidable touch.
The captain too cannot be exempt from blame. But this season, there were extenuating circumstances.
While the auction was going on in Bangalore in January, Kohli’s full focus was trained on a Wanderers Test that he was determined to win.
When asked a question about the IPL after the match was won, he brushed it off with a curt answer of “Sir, please don’t ask me such things now.”
Bangalore’s auction missteps were cruelly apparent on Saturday evening, as two Karnataka players combined to knock them out.
Shreyas Gopal and Krishnappa Gowtham have never worn RCB colors. It cost Rajasthan Royals 62 million rupees ($910,000) to sign Gowtham, but Gopal came at his base price of two million rupees.
The spin web they spun – 6 for 23 in six overs – illustrated Bangalore’s inability to make best use of local talent. Three of the Indian spinners RCB signed – Pawan Negi, Washington Sundar and Murugan Ashwin – for a combined cost of 64 million rupees ended up bowling 31 overs across the season.
Of course, you cannot be too parochial when it comes to professional sport. The National Football League’s two greatest quarterbacks – Joe Montana and Tom Brady – both crossed the width of a continent to script their legends.
Arsene Wenger’s Invincibles were not born within a goal kick of Hackney or Islington. And Pep Guardiola’s Barcelona certainly were not all about the boys from La Masia.
But in Bangalore’s case, despite Karnataka having enjoyed some excellent seasons in domestic cricket this decade, there has been a marked reluctance to pick the players for RCB. Even those that did play and shine, like KL Rahul, who made 397 runs for them in 2016, were not retained.
Instead, RCB’s third retention card in 2018 was spent on Sarfaraz Khan, who finished the season with 51 runs. Rahul already has 652.
Vettori succeeded Ray Jennings in January 2014, the man who had taken them to two finals in 2009 and 2011.
A year later, when Kohli was handed the Test reins by India, Jennings told The Indian Express how Kohli had been instrumental in him losing his job.
“People generally don’t like being questioned and pointed out their shortcomings, but I knew what I did was for his, and the team’s, well-being,” he said. “But as a captain, he has the right to work with the people he is comfortable with and I have no complaints.”
Gary Kirsten, who took India to the No.1 ranking in Tests and helped win a World Cup in 2011, joined RCB this season as mentor and batting coach.
In the T20 format, Kirsten has a wretched record. India failed to make it out of the Super Eights at the World T20 in both 2009 and 2010, and his two seasons with the Delhi Daredevils were nothing short of a disaster.
Vettori’s attempt to spread his wings with Middlesex last summer saw him finish with a 5-7 win-loss record.
The successful teams long ago realized that T20 is a separate sport, where success depends on good scouting and use of analytics.
Pedigree in the longer forms is no guarantee for success in T20, where the name of the game is tactical innovation.
Bangalore, both in terms of recruitment and on-field execution, are well off the pace.


Formula E boss says Saudi race well on track

Updated 2 min 35 sec ago
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Formula E boss says Saudi race well on track

RIYADH: With motor racing star Felipe Massa set to make his Formula E debut, the inaugural Saudi Arabia E-Prix in Riyadh was always likely to be a stunning spectacle of speed.

But the sport’s supremo Alejandro Agag has promised race fans yet more big surprises before the green light signals go at the Ad Diriyah street circuit on Dec.15, claiming the Kingdom is “the home of Formula E.”

Speaking at the Future Investment Initiative conference in the Saudi Arabian capital, Agag expressed his excitement that Saudi Arabia, as with former Formula One hero Massa, is making its bow in the sport and predicted the country would have a big influence on its future.

“This is now the home of formula E,” Agag said.

“Thanks to the vision of HRH Crown Prince Mohammed, for the first time in Saudi Arabia these cars will be here, it’s the motorsport of the future.”

While he refused to reveal any of the big announcements surrounding the race he did praise the forward thinking of a country with the largest oil exports in the world going full-throttle in embracing electric cars.

That forward thinking has been matched away from the track, with Agag acknowledging the Vision 2030 reforms made by Kingdom’s rulers over the past two years.

“We could not race in Saudi Arabia if women could not drive. I think that Saudi Arabia is taking the right steps, and that is what attracted us,” the Spaniard said.

Thanks to the Bahrain and Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, the Middle East has long been associated with motorsport, and it is well known that the region is awash with petrolheads. The Riyadh Formula E race, however, will be international motorsport’s first move into Saudi Arabia, so all eyes will be on the Ad Diriyah track. Located in the birthplace of the Kingdom the circuit, revealed last month, has excited the drivers, Agag revealed.

The drivers cannot wait for the season to start in Riyadh, they are looking forward to racing around the new track, he added.

Jerry Inzerillo, CEO of Ad Diriyah gate development, is certain the Middle East’s newest track will not disappoint the racers and all the petrolheads set to descend on the capital.

“The preparations are fabulous,” Inzerillo told Arab News.

“Everybody has to come out and see it, it will be so much fun.”

Touching on plans for the wider development, to be announced in the coming weeks, he added: “It’s going to be the jewel of the Kingdom as it already is. There is a very bold masterplan, but when you see what is planned, Ad Diriyah as it should be is going to be the great gathering place for people all around the world. It is certainly the soul of the Saudi nation.”