If there ever was one wish – one player whom the RCB supporters would unanimously pick in the auction this year, one player to capture the imaginations of the entire fanbase, one player to put butterflies in the stomachs of the millions of RCB fans worldwide, one player to make us feel like Christmas had arrived a week early, it was Shimron Hetmeyer. And boy, was the feeling good when the paddle went up at 4.2 crores, the auctioneer’s gavel came down and confirmed Hetmeyer as the newest star in the constellation that is the RCB middle order.
Shimron Hetmeyer – The heir apparent to Christopher Henry Gayle
A middle order consisting of the best batsman in the world Virat Kohli and the legend AB De Villiers would send shivers down the spine of opposition bowlers. Add to that a match winner with the hitting ability of Hetmeyer, it becomes the stuff of nightmares for the opposition, and a dream for the RCB supporters. One look at the batting lineup now, and the first word that now comes to mind is ‘COMPLETE’.
Indian batting strength
Although the acquisition of Shimron Hetmeyer provided the middle order some much-needed strength and structure, an overseas batsman was not the only vacant spot that needed replenishments. The personnel representing the Indian batting quota of the squad was wearing really thin, and was addressed to a fair extent. Gurkeerat Mann Singh, Akshdeep Nath and local lad Devdutt Padikkal are all exciting prospects that give the batting line-up a fresh and bold new look.
The India Under-19 international, who has also represented Karnataka, Devdutt Padikkal can bat in the top 3. A stylish southpaw, who was impressive whenever he took the field for the Bellary Tuskers in the KPL, the local lad can be a serious contender to open the batting. Akshdeep Nath, a player who also has previously represented India at the under-19 level till 2012, can slot into the middle-order seamlessly if need be. Gurkeerat Mann Singh, who has been on the IPL circuit for a while now, and has even been a capped Indian international, is a bang-for-a-buck buy at his base price of 50 lakhs.
The new all-rounder on the block – Shivam Dube
With the overseas quartet of AB De Villiers, Shimron Hetmeyer, Marcus Stoinis and Tim Southee looking a certainty to start almost every game, the team was calling out for an Indian finisher. That’s where the team management took a punt on a relatively untested Shivam Dube. As was the trend in the auction this year, the uncapped Indian all-rounder, fetched a hefty sum of 5 crores – the most spent on a player by RCB this season. The Mumbai lad who burst onto the scene when he smacked veteran leg-spinner Praveen Tambe for 5 sixers in an over, and then repeated the feat in a Ranji Trophy match, can also give the captain a few overs of medium pace.
The value buy – Klaasen
The second and the last overseas addition to the squad, was a quintessential steal in Heinrich Klaasen at 50 Lakhs, who now occupies the void created by fellow South African Quinton De Kock. A mixture of classy and unorthodox, Klaasen has all the shots in his quiver, and can deliver the goods against both pace and spin. Bought at such a modest price, the Protea wicket-keeper Klaasen can be a very good understudy, in case the team is in need of a replacement to either of the two overseas batsmen as well as being an overseas wicket-keeping option.
The unknown(s) who hit the jackpot
One of the most enjoyable parts of the auction is seeing a player previously unheard of making us scratch our heads in disbelief when there is a bidding war that eclipses the price tag of even international stars. One such story this year was of Bengal leg-spinner Prayas Ray Barman. Completely unknown to the majority of the fans, the left-of-field bidding war saw the 15-year-old
fetch a handsome sum of 1.5 crores. Although it might be unfair to expect him to have an immediate impact in his first season, surely the teenager is one who has been purchased with an eye on the future. The RCB setup also presents Prayas with an opportunity to learn under the tutelage of one of the best leg-spinners in the format in Yuzvendra Chahal.
Delhi youngster Himmat Singh who plays mainly as a batsman who can bowl, and Sikkim all- rounder Milind Kumar who can bowl off-spinners as well, add to the squad depth in case of injuries to any of the first-eleven starters.
There is still an uncertainty with regards to where the tournament will be hosted, and the availability of players with the World Cup lurking in the near future post the IPL. The overseas core of the team in AB De Villiers, Shimron Hetmyer and Tim Southee will be available for the entire duration of the tournament, while there are adequate replacements for Aussie Marcus Stoinis in Colin De Grandhomme and Moeen Ali. The squad is well rounded-off with players capable of performing in any conditions irrespective of where the tournament will be played. The backroom brains deserve huge credit for assembling a squad which looks like they can beat any other team on paper, in any conditions.
The auction presented an opportunity for the team to be upgraded, and the bold army looks well and truly a complete unit with various options for every possible position. The acquisitions of Shimron Hetmeyer and Shivam Dube has immediately added two match-winners to the playing eleven.Unlike last season, the batting has depth, meaning lesser dependency on Virat Kohli and AB De Villiers to do the heavy-lifting. A plethora of all-rounders, offering more bowling options should someone have a bad day. A settled bowling unit with wicket-takers and death bowlers understanding their roles across the 20 overs. A smooth blend of experience and youth, which ensures the team can challenge for the title immediately, as well as being future-proof. An auction day and money well spent for the RCB fans, and an intriguing season to look forward to!