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Indian Premier League

Ranked: RCB’s five worst IPL heartbreaks

Former Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) captain Virat Kohli reacts during an Indian Premier League (IPL) match
by Oscar Ress 4 minute read

Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) have famously never won an IPL title despite constantly being able to field some of the most star-studded line-ups in the competition’s roster. Oscar Ress picks out their five most heartbreaking IPL exits.

For many seasons the Royal Challengers Bangalore top order read like a Who’s Who of T20 batting. The likes of Virat Kohli, Chris Gayle and AB de Villiers have all decorated their teamsheets, and yet the Bengaluru-based side have never lifted the IPL trophy. They have built a reputation for getting close, often ranking highly in the IPL betting, but never crossing the finish line in first place.

They are a franchise that has now become synonymous with heartbreaks – let’s take a look at RCB’s five biggest.

5. 2022 – RCB lose Qualifier 2 to the Rajasthan Royals

Kohli had relinquished the captaincy and with Faf du Plessis now in charge, RCB looked to have compiled their most balanced squad ever. They had a bowling attack containing Josh Hazlewood and Wanindu Hasaranga and the purple cap holder from the year before, in Harshal Patel.

With the bat, they had Dinesh Karthik fuelled by a desire to play in the T20 World Cup striking at 183.33 and even with Kohli out of form, they qualified for the knockouts.

When Rajat Patidar took control of the Eliminator with a magnificent 112 off 54 balls to defeat the Lucknow Super Giants, it looked like an RCB title was finally meant to be. This was until they met the Rajasthan Royals and more specifically Jos Buttler who laughed in the face of RCB’s 157 and knocked it off comfortably with 106 not out.

4. 2015 – Lost in the Qualifier vs Chennai Super Kings

This on the face of it seems like just another RCB heartbreak. However, 2015 might just have seen their three biggest players at their combined peak. It also foreshadowed the next year when RCB made their most concerted title charge.

The season was the best evidence of their problem over the years. De Villiers, Kohli and Gayle scored 513, 505 and 491 runs respectively and dominated the run scoring. However, the fourth-highest run scorer was Mandeep Singh with just 157.

De Villiers stormed RCB through the Eliminator as he slammed 66 off 38 to beat Rajasthan Royals by 71 runs. Heartbreak struck once again in the Qualifier when they lost with just a ball remaining against the Chennai Super Kings. The big guns made 54 runs between them and RCB stumbled to 139 before Michael Hussey’s half-century was enough to knock them out.

3. 2011 – Lost the final vs Chennai Super Kings after topping the table

2011 was a season dominated by Chris Gayle who scored over 600 runs, propelling his side to the top of the table before they had their hearts broken by CSK twice in the knockout stage.

The team was batting-heavy, as was the RCB trademark, which was evidenced by Gayle bowling his full quota of overs in the final. He did take two wickets but could do little as CSK’s top order plundered 205, including 95 from Murali Vijay.

Gayle failed to build on his 89 in the Qualifier and was dismissed by Ashwin for a duck. RCB subsided and tasted their first IPL final defeat, a sign of what was to come.

2. 2020 – Five losses in a row to crash out of the competition

An IPL staged while the COVID pandemic raged on. It was hosted outside of India and saw a freakish tournament from AB de Villiers, who averaged over 45 throughout the competition. RCB were on fire, with Devdutt Padikkal having emerged to ease the pressure on Kohli and de Villiers. With the ball, Washington Sundar starred with an economy of less than six an over in a much-improved attack.

This finally appeared to be their year, until they completely ran out of steam. It was just another false dawn and they lost their last five games. Whether it was bubble fatigue or something else, RCB could not sustain their form. Five of their eight losses in the season came in the last five games.

It all ended with a loss to the Sunrisers Hyderabad who chased down RCB’s 131 thanks to some trademark calmness of Kane Williamson.

1. 2016 – Lost in the IPL final to the Sunrisers Hyderabad

There was no other option for the worst heartbreak. According to Kohli, KL Rahul still screenshots highlights of the 2016 final and says it still hurts. Despite not winning the tournament, this IPL will forever be associated with Kohli – but his team came up eight runs short of being crowned IPL champions.

During the season Kohli amassed 973 runs with four centuries and seven fifties – all tallies are records in any T20 competition. He was ably supported throughout the season by de Villiers with 687 runs and Rahul with just short of 400 runs.

RCB won the unwinnable in the Qualifier through de Villiers who hauled his team from 29-5 and then 68-6 to chase down 159 with an unbeaten 79. This finally looked like the winning moment but were undone by just eight runs in the final, thanks firstly to David Warner’s 69 and then Ben Cutting who smashed 39 off 15 before removing Gayle and Rahul in the chase.

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