From a despairing Sunset to a Titanic triumph – here is RCB’s IPL 2022 campaign at a glance
A journey that probably could have ended on a much more memorable note for the Royal Challengers Bangalore would eventually fall short of the Promised Land by a couple of yards. The feeling of "too close yet too far" would overwhelm the Challengers brigade drastically as the entire unit would crumble under the pump in the second qualifier with Jos Buttler wreaking havoc.
The Challengers would start their IPL journey under their new captain, Faf du Plessis against the soaring Punjab Kings. Faf and Virat would play an all-important partnership for the second wicket that would be followed by mind-bending heroics from a resurgent Dinesh Karthik. However, a dropped effort of Odean Smith during the latter stages of the PBKS innings eventually saw RCB being blown out of contention.
A defeat in the opening fixture would do very little to dampen their soaring spirits as the team would come back strongly against the Kolkata Knight Riders to seal their first victory of the latest campaign. Hasaranga and Akash Deep would plunder seven wickets between them before the collective efforts of Shahbaz Ahmed, Dinesh Karthik, David Willey, and Sherfane Rutherford would seal the deal for the Royal Challengers Bangalore.
They would follow this up with another thrilling victory against the Rajasthan Royals where Dinesh Karthik would play the perfect finisher to script a remarkable watershed from an almost ineluctable situation for the Challengers. The ensuing fixture against the Mumbai Indians would see them seizing their third victory on the bounce with an utterly dominant display.
Despite RCB’s unchecked dominion, a struggling Chennai would finally open their account riding high on an insane partnership between Shivam Dube and Robin Uthappa, dealing a telling blow to the high-flying aspirations of the Challengers. The collective efforts of the lower middle-order batters would bring them close but the early landslide at the top of their innings was too devastating to be plugged.
However, the team would rally themselves in no time as they would stockpile their weapons perfectly taming the likes of Delhi Capitals and the Lucknow Super Giants in two consecutive fixtures, finishing the first half of the campaign on an unparalleled high with five wins from seven contests.
Despite a rambunctious start to the first half of the tournament, the second half of the contest saw the team come a cropper with three losses on the trot against the likes of Sunrisers Hyderabad where the team would be met with utter chagrin, the Rajasthan Royals and the Gujarat Titans, jeopardizing their campaign.
However, Faf and his geezers would bounce back in style with two emphatic victories in the following fixtures to floor the likes of Chennai Super Kings and the Sunrisers Hyderabad, exacting vengeance on the latter in response to their collapse in the first leg fixture.
With so much to play for and RCB’s chances dangling by a slender rope, the team would falter to the Punjab Kings in the penultimate encounter of the group stages, ironing out the equation to a must-win game against the Gujarat Titans and other invisible circumstances to align with the interests of the Challengers.
In the must-win tie against the Titans, the king would return to form to script a fine knock and build another century partnership with Faf du Plessis to do RCB’s part in the equation. In a dramatic thriller that had to produce a win for Mumbai, it witnessed Delhi slowly getting hold of the game before that final twist where Rishabh Pant would not seek a review and Tim David would obliterate any chances for the Capitals with a blitzkrieg that would eventually come in the deep.
With Delhi eliminated, it was RCB vs the Lucknow Super Giants for the first eliminator and on a track that was flatter than any other in the tournament, Rajat Patidar would stitch together an incredible ton, toppling a number of records, also sealing the first victory for RCB in the eliminator for the first time in three years.
Sadly, for the Challengers, despite Rajat’s brilliant half-century in the second qualifier, it would be Buttler’s blistering ton that would overshadow the other efforts to put an end to RCB’s memorable outing in IPL 2022. A tournament that turned a team into a family with people from widely diverse cultures and backgrounds dovetailing together, it was a journey worth taking.
Despite the fall just ahead of the finish line, there were seeds of promise and a flickering hope at the end of the line. Maybe it would still take some time to kiss the hallowed grounds but Rome was not built in a day. With all said and done, we at the Royal Challengers Bangalore would like to congratulate the Gujarat Titans for their incredible triumph in their very first season in the tournament. There will be a lot of meetings slated to be played down the line, but with the fray coming to an end, for now, let’s just say, “Go well, Titans.”