NEW DELHI: For legendary batsman Dilip Vengsarkar, this IPL season Virat Kohli's Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) could break the jinx of not winning the title in 12 attempts, and the former India captain rates them among the hot favourites, citing their well-rounded team as one of the factors.
The RCB, at times referred to as the perennial underperformers, have come closest to winning the IPL crown thrice — in 2009, 2011, and 2016 — when they reached the final but on each occasion, disappointment came their way.
"In this T20 format, it is very difficult to say who the front runners will be. But I would say Bangalore are winning it this time, because they haven't won it so far. Kohli, AB de Villiers and Yuzvendra Chahal will come good. They have a lot of good players in the squad. Pacer Navdeep Saini bowled extremely well in their first game (against SunRisers Hyderabad). So, I will be interested to see their progress in the tournament," Vengsarkar, 64, told IANS in an exclusive interview.
Vengsarkar, however, underlined that nothing could be said with certainty in the fast fluctuating fortunes of 20-over-per-side matches.
"Well, the RCB could be the favourites — one of the favourites — but I can't stick out my neck and say that X, Y or Z will (surely) win. But they could be one of the favourites," he said.
Kohli, too, feels that since 2016, "this is the most balanced I have felt about the squad". He was referring to a batting line-up that includes Aaron Finch, new sensation Devdutt Padikkal, besides himself and de Villiers; pacers like Navdeep Saini, Dale Steyn and Chris Morris; and spinners Chahal, Washington Sundar and Adam Zampa.
This is the second time the IPL is being staged in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Earlier, the first half of the IPL was played in the UAE in 2014 due to the general elections in India.
There are a lot of players in the eight teams who haven't played in the UAE before. They are new to the conditions and the pitches are different from India.
"Basically, the conditions are humid in the UAE. But then that is bound to happen because in these months, it's quite warm and humid there. And, of course, IPL in India is played in 10-12 centres and in the UAE you are playing only at three centres, so there will be wear and tear of the pitches as you go along. It will be interesting," said Vengsarkar. (IANS)