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Will Bangalore keep faith with veterans in 2021 IPL season?

Royal Challengers Bangalore endured the familiar feeling of disappointment at the end of the 2020 season. Virat Kohli's men qualified for the playoffs for the first time since 2016 when they finished as runners-up in the competition.

Just as in 2016, it was Sunrisers Hyderabad who crushed Bangalore's dreams of winning the IPL crown for the first time. Kohli and his men qualified in fourth place for the post-season, winning seven of their 14 matches.

They missed out on the opportunity to secure a top-two spot after losing their last four matches on the bounce, including their defeat to Delhi Capitals in the regular-season finale. As a result, RCB faced off against a rampant Sunrisers in the Eliminator and were soundly beaten by six wickets.

#IPL2020 Hyderabad beat Bangalore by 5 wickets.#SRH stay in race for play-offs after this easy win over #RCB.
Check out the Points Table: https://t.co/dcCyg5oS1X#SRHvsRCB | #RCBvsSRH pic.twitter.com/v5HKbIwH7L

— Sify.com (@sifydotcom) October 31, 2020

Simon Katich's first campaign as Bangalore head coach was a success in light of three-straight years where the franchise failed to reach the playoffs. However, work needs to be done during the off-season to refine their issues.

It might be easier said than done amid reports that the BCCI is mulling adding a ninth team to the competition in 2021 that would prompt a mega auction. Just when RCB is trending in the right direction - the rug could be pulled from under their feet.

How Should RCB Approach The Off-Season?

Despite their failure in 2020, there is a confidence that Bangalore can make another run for the IPL crown in 2021. As of 13th November, Kohli and his team are backed at favourable odds of 5/1 to win the competition next season, although on it's on the basis that their key men return to the fold.

The potential expansion of the IPL to include a ninth team would force a mega auction. The current eight franchises would be allowed to lock down three players along with a further two on RTM (right-to-match) options.

The system could suit Bangalore, who were top-heavy in the last campaign. Their star men performed under pressure to guide them into the post-season, but the burden was not lifted from them by others in the line-up. Kohli himself was not dominant by his incredible standards, although he still managed to score 466 runs in his 15 innings at an average of 42.32. The RCB skipper is the franchise and will certainly not be going anywhere.

He was supported by the brilliance of AB de Villiers, who had a better tournament than his team-mate. The South African was outstanding, enjoying one of his best IPL seasons by scoring 454 runs in his 15 matches. Even though he is 36, De Villiers has been a core player for RCB since 2011 and should not be allowed to leave the franchise, although difficult decisions may have to be made.

Yuzvendra Chahal led the way with the ball, claiming 21 wickets. The leg-spinner held the unit together and was a model of consistency for Kohli. He was not only a threat as a wicket-taker, but also miserly, boasting an economy rate of 7.08. RCB cannot afford to let him walk out of the door given his importance and experience.

Rising Stars

Devdutt Padikkal was the breakout player of the 2020 IPL season. The 20-year-old outperformed De Villiers and Kohli with the bat, scoring 473 runs including five fifties. Padikkal is the future of the franchise and it's why De Villiers potentially may have to move on to ensure RCB can protect the opener from the mega auction.

He is not a swashbuckling figure in the mould of Kohli and De Villiers, although he is still developing as a batsman. The sky is the limit for the 20-year-old in the IPL and the other formats of the game. India has another talented player ready to emerge off the production line.

It was a ‘breakthrough season' for Devdutt Padikkal and he was deservingly named ‘Emerging Player of IPL 2020'.🔝 👏🏻👏🏻

It's only onwards and upwards from here on champ!#PlayBold #IPL2020 #WeAreChallengers #Dream11IPL pic.twitter.com/fw6S6jXZ9o

— Royal Challengers Bangalore (@RCBTweets) November 11, 2020

Washington Sundar had a disappointing 2020 season compared to the progress of Padikkal. The 21-year-old notched eight wickets, but RCB's expectations would have been higher considering that the all-rounder is earning 3.2 crore. He highlighted his potential in excellent bowling performances against Kolkata Knight Riders and Chennai Super Kings.

However, Sundar had issues with consistency, averaging 37.25 with the ball, although his economy rate was an impressive 5.96. There is a promising player ready to blossom in the future, and the RCB need to make sure that they are the franchise to benefit from his rise.