One of the three teams yet to win the IPL, Royal Challengers Bangalore released a lot of big names ahead of the auctions and went into the auctions with plenty of slots to fill. In the auctions, the Kohli-led side was involved in a number of high bids including that of Glenn Maxwell and Kyle Jamieson. The management seemed to have a clear vision on what they needed in the auctions and hence made some pretty good buys, having a huge purse left also helped the cause.
Here we look at how the squad shapes up for the upcoming season:
Virat Kohli (c), Devdutt Padikkal, Josh Philippe (wk), AB de Villiers (wk), Pavan Deshpande, Washington Sundar, Daniel Sams, Yuzvendra Chahal, Adam Zampa, Shahbaz Ahmed, Mohammed Siraj, Navdeep Saini, Kane Richardson, Harshal Patel, Glenn Maxwell, Sachin Baby, Rajat Patidar, Mohammed Azharuddeen, Kyle Jamieson, Daniel Christian, Suyash Prabhudessai, K.S. Bharat
Strengths and Weaknesses:
The RCB squad has never been short of stalwarts and the case is no different this time around, with the ever-sought-after Glenn Maxwell added to the side. The batting looks as solid it can be, a little more dependable as compared to last season. Youngsters Padikkal and Azharuddeen are most likely to open to accommodate the overseas trio of AB, Maxwell and Christian in the middle order. With a middle order comprising of Kohli, AB, Maxwell and Christian, RCB have a very strong top six. There might also be a toss-up between Christian and Sams, depending on which aspect of the game they want to strengthen more.
Padikkal had a decent debut season in 2020 and Azharuddeen comes off after a stellar show in the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy where he scored a 37-ball hundred. Skipper Kohli needs to work a bit on his approach to better his scoring rate as compared to last season, but that might not be an issue this season with AB, Maxwell and Christian to follow, all of whom can tonk the ball from the word go.
However, RCB lack a dependable Indian middle order batsman and that could be a setback in case Maxwell and Christian do not fire or they want to add an extra overseas pacer in the XI. Also, it will be interesting to see if AB can keep for all games. If not, they need to play either Phelippe or Bharat depending on the combination they want. Playing Phelippe would mean dropping Christian, which compromises finishing with the bat. Pavan Deshpande is inexperienced at this level and Sachin Baby has been on and off with his form off late.
Familiar issues continue to persist with RCB. With Morris and Udana gone the death bowling has taken a hit. Siraj and Saini have been highly inconsistent at the death and Jamieson does not have enough experience in T20 cricket at this level. Christian bowled at the death in BBL but was also a bit expensive. A lot will depend on if they can fit in Kane Richardson or Daniel Sams and how well Saini adapts to the situation. Though the death bowling on paper looks a bit fragile, it completely boils down to the execution and there is no reason why the set of bowlers cannot exceed the expectations and excel at the death.
The spin department holds a formidable look with good enough variety. Chahal and Zampa are ever reliable and the advantage with both of them is that they always look for wickets and can be relied upon to bowl an over or two at the death too. Washington has improved a lot as a T20 bowler, being able to bowl both in powerplays and middle overs. With Maxwell in the squad, they now have even more options in the XI in case they need additional overs of spin.
Overall, the squad look well set and a lot will depend on how quick they find the right balance. With the squad they have, RCB can definitely field a well-balanced XI and they need to do it right from the start of the season, unlike most of the previous seasons. The major concern remains the death bowling and they will want the current set of bowlers to improve on that aspect.
Probable first choice playing XI: Devdutt Padikkal, Mohammed Azharuddeen, Virat Kohli (c), AB de Villiers (wk), Glenn Maxwell, Dan Christian, Washington Sundar, Kyle Jamieson, Yuzvendra Chahal, Navdeep Saini, Mohammed Siraj