A look at how the RCB squad looks before the all-important auction.
Although the next edition of the IPL is still 3 months away, the anticipation is already starting to bubble up. It’s that time of the year again, when all the eyeballs begin to fall on the auctioneer’s gavel, with each team getting an opportunity to fix the shortcomings in their squad. That being said, all the teams had an opportunity to plug a few leaks, even before the first name is called out; enter the IPL trading window! Unlike the norm, this time around, most of the teams chose to use the trading window to upgrade their team in key positions, as well as clear some of the deadwood that was clogging up crucial salary cap and overseas quotas. In the following paragraphs we take a look at how “Namma RCB” did during this crucial period, and how the squad looks before the auction.
Royal Challengers Bangalore’s team management went in with a clear strategy in mind of making space for overseas all-rounders and bowlers by letting go off the overseas batsmen. Apart from that, the management has decided to release/ trade a few of the under-performers from the previous season(s).
Trades and releases
Firstly, the in’s(or more aptly the in) – RCB decided to bring in Marcus Stoinis from Kings XI Punjab – the hard-hitting Aussie all-rounder, who can bat in the middle order and roll his arm over for a few overs of medium pace when required. Stoinis could prove to be a crucial cog in the RCB wheel, as he could provide an extra bowling option among the top 6 batters. Oftentimes during the last season, we didn’t really have a reliable medium pace bowling option in the top 6 to fall back on, which proved costly over the course of the season.
In exchange, Mandeep Singh moved the other way, to Kings XI Punjab. Mandeep who has been a long-serving mainstay in the batting unit has moved to the franchise based out of his hometown. A versatile batsman, who played in any position asked of him, Mandeep Singh will be a loss to RCB.
Quinton De Kock who came in with much promise, was also traded to the Mumbai Indians, tying into the team management’s emphasis on clearing up spaces occupied by overseas batsmen.
Apart from the two trades, the disappointments from last season, Brendon McCullum, Chris Woakes, Corey Anderson, and the unrealised talent in Sarfraz Khan have all been released back into the auction pool.
The overseas quota in the playing eleven, is likely to be filled up by one foreign batsman(who does not need naming), two all-rounders – whether it be two seam bowling options or a spinner will depend on the conditions, and a fast bowler. With a plethora of quality foreign all-rounders that RCB have done well to retain, the captain will have a whole spread of options to chose from, as and when the conditions and the situations demand.
Two modern-day greats of the game and the ever-entertaining duo of Virat Kohli and AB De Villiers will again be expected to shoulder the responsibility in the batting department, unless another top batsmen gets signed during the auction. The two all-rounders among Moeen Ali, Colin De Grandhomme and the newly acquired Marcus Stoinis will be expected to chip in with meaningful contributions in the top 7. Parthiv Patel is the only wicket-keeping option in the current squad, who is also likely to open the innings again, with the management having parted ways with the likes of Quinton De Kock and Brendon McCullum.
The core of the bowling unit, has been retained, despite it’s inconsistencies during the previous season. The Indian bowling trio of Umesh Yadav, Mohammed Siraj and the spin wizard Yuzvendra Chahal will play a key part across the duration of the season. Tim Southee, whose inclusion during the latter parts of the previous season alongside Siraj helped drastically improve the death bowling , will once again be the go to man when the opposition is swinging for the fences. Nathan Coulter-Nile, who missed the entirety of last season from a stress fracture to his back, will be a welcome addition to the bowling line-up, as a backup to Tim Southee. Nathan Coulter-Nile’s big hitting prowesses will also come in handy during the slog overs. The fast bowling duo of Navdeep Saini and Kulwant Khejroliya, will gain a lot of experience under the watchful eyes of fellow Delhiite and bowling coach, Ashish Nehra. The two spin-bowling, Indian all-rounders in Washington Sundar and Pawan Negi will give the captain an extra option, to fill in and perform certain roles as and when necessary.
All in all, the squad looks pretty balanced, apart from the Indian quota in the batting department, which has lost two long-time servants in Mandeep Singh and Sarfraz Khan. Expect this to be addressed in the upcoming auction. The captain and the team management will have options aplenty to chose from when it comes to the bowlers and all-rounders. Given the team management sorts out the need for Indian batsman, and all the players remain fit during the course of the season, the first eleven on paper looks competent enough to mount a serious title challenge. Here’s to another season, and hopefully a successful one for us RCB fans. May the roar of “RCB! RCB!” engulf the Chinnaswamy once again!