IPL: BCCI must sell the Royal Challengers to a new owner, Mahesh Bhupathi fumes

Virat Kohli’s form a rare bright spot, as the RCB face the Knights at Eden Gardens tomorrow

Virat Kohli (left) and Faf du Plessis converse (photo: @RCBTweets/X)
Virat Kohli (left) and Faf du Plessis converse (photo: @RCBTweets/X)

Gautam Bhattacharyya

It normally takes a lot to ruffle the feathers of Mahesh Bhupathi, the former doubles tennis ace and calmest of individuals. A proud Bangalorean, the 12-time grand slam champion in doubles and mixed doubles, lost his patience with the Royal Challengers Bengaluru on his X handle on Tuesday, 16 April.  

‘’For the sake of the Sport, the IPL, the fans and even the players I think BCCI needs to enforce the sale of RCB to a new owner who will care to build a sports franchise the way most of the other teams have done,’’ Bhupathi wrote on X after yet another loss earlier this week.

That reaction, coming from someone who has been an entrepreneur for years himself, possibly accurately diagnoses a certain lack of intent or application on part of the current owners.

The level of frustration is understandable, as one of the most passionately followed IPL teams is now languishing at the bottom of the table, with just one win from seven faceoffs.

They'll be looking to turn the tide in the match against the second-placed Kolkata Knight Riders in Kolkata on Sunday afternoon, 21 April. They will also have a heat wave to try and beat in the city!

Eden Gardens fans who brave the heat will be gung-ho as usual about Virat Kohli, leading the race for the Orange Cap with 361 runs already; but the team has collectively displayed little else by way of redeeming features.  

It’s not that the team management did not try to bring about a change of luck this year. But the measures have been largely cosmetic ones—– a change in name and a change of jersey colours where the black has been replaced with blue.

However, their lack of planning and poor acquisitions during the mini auction in December have meant that they failed to address some of the pressing requirements of the team—experienced Indian batters in the middle order and a quality fast bowler to complement Mohammed Siraj as well as a quality spinner.

In the previous seasons, the RCB had relied a lot on the big guns at the top of the order—erstwhile stars Chris Gayle, A.B. de Villiers, current skipper Faf du Plessis, Glenn Maxwell and, of course, Kohli.

Now, with du Plessis failing to fire this year and ‘Maxi’ in such horrible form that he decided to take a break from the last outing against the Sunrisers Hyderabad, the onus seems to rest on Kohli and ageing warhorse Dinesh Karthik in the death overs.

Breaking it down, Ambati Rayudu, a former international and IPL winner with the Mumbai Indians and the Chennai Super Kings said as a TV pundit: "Sixteen years, this is the same story for RCB: when there is pressure, no big name is ever found standing.

"All youngsters are playing at the back end and all the big guns bat at the top of the order and they whip off the cream from the cake, and that is the reason this team has never won the IPL."

The Challengers sincerely tried to topple the Himalayesque total of 287 by the Sunrisers Hyderabad in their last game before losing by 25 runs. "I am really proud of the way we fought with the bat out there in the middle. We lost the game but I was really proud of the way we fought,’’ said head coach Andy Flower.

They certainly rallied around well with du Plessis (62) and an improvising Karthik (83) to reach 262 for seven, but there is only that much one can do with the bowling continue to leak runs. Mathematically, they still have a chance of making it to the play-offs. But for that, the RCBs need to win at least six of their remaining seven games.

It’s difficult to see them starting the recovery against the high-flying Knights on the latter’s home turf—but then it takes one good game in this format to reboot a campaign!

The Play Bold Army will be hoping that a turnaround is just round the corner.

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