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IPL 2024: Is this the year Royal Challengers Bangalore get over the line?

Since its inception in 2008, the Indian Premier League has evolved into the most popular and fiercely contested franchise cricket competition in the world.

There have been seven different champions of the IPL in that time, with Chennai Super Kings and Mumbai Indians leading the way with five titles each.

But of the existing teams not to have lifted the trophy, the most eye-catching are Royal Challengers Bangalore - a team previously captained by India legend Virat Kohli.

Kohli has indeed been a one-club man in the IPL, but while his side have made the final of the IPL on three occasions, in 2009, 2011 and 2016, they are still yet to go the distance.

The question is - will 2024 be the season the 15/2 shots finally get over the line?

Bangalore hoping fourth time's the charm

For a team blessed with such iconic players over the years, it is a surprise that Bangalore have never won the IPL.

Indeed, they have not even made the final since the 2016 season, which felt like their golden opportunity to snap the unwanted streak.

That season Kohli rose to the occasion with 973 runs scored at a ridiculous average of 81.08 - a record which is yet to be surpassed.

He made four hundreds and seven 50s that season and the former India captain was at the peak of his powers.

But it was not meant to be as Sunrisers Hyderabad pipped Bangalore by eight runs at the M. Chinnaswamy Stadium and the wait for a first title goes on for the Royal Challengers.

Expect Du Plessis and Kohli to combine again

It has been a frustrating several years for Bangalore, but there were certainly positives to be taken from the 2023 campaign.

Under the captaincy of Faf du Plessis Bangalore finished sixth in the overall IPL standings, just one win away from making the play-offs.

In their final league game of the season, they lost by six wickets to Gujarat Titans, despite an unbeaten knock of 101 from Kohli.

As has often been the case for Bangalore, they lacked the quality below their opening pair to get over the line and their middle-order issues have to be resolved if they are to challenge for the title in 2024.

But, looking at the positives, Bangalore at least know they have a steady base at the top of the order.

Both Du Plessis and Kohli were contenders for the Orange Cap last year, scoring 730 runs and 639 runs respectively throughout the course of the season.

And, if Bangalore do go on to win the IPL this year, that pair will surely both have played pivotal roles.

Joseph headlines draft additions in 2024

Given both Du Plessis and Kohli will likely take the lead with the bat, Bangalore focused most of their attention in the IPL auction on enhancing their bowling attack.

Yash Dayal, Lockie Ferguson and all-rounder Tom Curran have all been brought in, but the headline acquisition was West Indian Alzarri Joseph, who arrived for 11.5 crore.

Joseph's IPL game time was limited last season as he played only seven matches for Gujarat Titans, but he picked up seven wickets and has a good record in the IPL.

Indeed, in 2019, Joseph set the record for the best figures in IPL history, when he finished with 6-12 from just 3.4 overs for Mumbai Indians against Sunrisers Hyderabad.

He has taken 20 wickets in 19 matches in the IPL and, although he may need to improve on his existing figures, he should be a valuable addition to the squad.

Joseph is seriously quick and makes the most of bounce, a key attribute given he will be playing regularly at the M. Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bangalore.

But it will likely take more than a strong season from the Windies man for Bangalore to put together a title charge.

Not only do the Royal Challengers need both Kohli and Du Plessis to perform similarly to how they did in 2023, but they also need their middle-order to step up and their new bowlers to hit the ground running.

It is a tall order, but they have one of the best fanbases in the world and the talent required to go the distance in the 2024 IPL season.

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