Royal Challengers Bangalore have always been one of the most followed teams in the Indian Premier League. Led by Virat Kohli, the franchise has, however, not been able to taste much success in the tournament over the seasons. Over-dependence on AB de Villiers and Kohli along with the lack of a reliable overseas fast bowler over the editions has meant that RCB has under-achieved in the IPL.
Though they managed to reach the playoffs in the last edition of the league, their campaign was riddled with inconsistency, including five losses in a row.
We look at some players the team might target this season.
Players Released by RCB ahead of IPL 2021 Auction: Chris Morris, Aaron Finch, Moeen Ali, Isuru Udana, Shivam Dube, Umesh Yadav, Pawan Negi, Gurkeerat Singh Mann, Dale Steyn (opted out) and Parthiv Patel (retired).
Players Retained by RCB ahead of IPL 2021 Auction: Virat Kohli, AB de Villiers, Yuzvendra Chahal, Devdutt Padikkal, Josh Philippe, Mohammad Siraj, Washington Sundar, Navdeep Saini, Shahbaz Ahmed, Pavan Deshpande, Adam Zampa and Kane Richardson.
IPL 2021 Auction Purse: 35.4 Crores INR (after trades)
Slots to fill: 12 (including three overseas)
The RCB team will be eager to get on board an Indian wicket-keeper after Parthiv Patel announced his retirement ahead of the season. Patel did not play a single game last season, which forced de Villiers to keep wickets. This is where Vishnu Vinod could come in handy. He was the leading run-scorer in the Vijay Hazare Trophy last year for Kerala, and topped the six-hitting charts, with 29 maximums during the domestic ODI competition.
Vinod hits a boundary every 5.33 balls in a T20 innings, which makes him an ideal candidate to play at the top of the order. The batsman has an array of shots like the sweep and the reverse sweep, and is a fine player of spin as well. Vindo is capable of taking maximum advantage of the powerplay overs. He averages 48 in this year’s Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy, and could prove to be an X-factor in the RCB line-up.
The over-dependence on Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers has been a big Achilles Heel for the RCB team over the last few seasons. The top-seven batters of RCB had a combined strike rate of just over 124 last season – the lowest among all teams in IPL 2020. The players struggled against spin as well, with Aaron Finch having the best strike rate among spinners (125.6), while de Villiers could only manage a strike rate of 113.7 against the slower bowlers.
Sam Billings is a decent player of spin bowling and adds the much needed aggression lower down the order in any team. He can attack them by playing sweeps and reverse sweeps, and had a good season in the recent Big Bash League. RCB have a number of gaps to fill in the side, and are unlikely to go after more expensive players like Glenn Maxwell, in order to save their purse for an overseas fast bowler. Billings, then, is an ideal choice.
The South African all-rounder was out injured in the first half of the IPL last year, but left his impact right away when he got a chance. Morris managed to pick up 11 wickets in 9 games with best figures of 4 for 26, but what stood out was his economy rate of 6.63. The RCB team released him ahead of the tournament considering his high price (INR 10 crore), but head coach Mike Hesson already hinted that the franchise might look to buy him back at a cheaper price.
Morris has been a consistent performer in the death overs in T20 tournaments. Between IPL 2019 to IPL 2020, Morris had conceded 8.27 runs at the death in T20 leagues, and he can be more than handy with the bat as well.
The fast bowler will be much sought after especially after the Big Bash League season that he had. The Australian ended as the leading wicket taker of the recent tournament Down Under, with 29 scalps, and is sure to be a fine addition in the RCB camp as well. Despite the presence of Kane Richardson and Daniel Sams, RCB are expected to splurge on another foreign pacer due to the lack of confidence inspired by Sams and Kane.
Jhye is regarded as one of the most skilled bowlers in Australia due to his ability to bowl accurate line and lengths at great pace. He has control, can bowl economically with the new ball and can send down yorkers along with short balls consistently as well.
Though Jhye is not the most economical at the death, RCB can plug the weakness if they get Morris on board as well.
Shakib Al Hasan:
Though RCB have two of the best spinners in Yuzvendra Chahal and Adam Zampa, they can target Shakib Al Hasan as well, who can not only win games with his slower deliveries but can be more than handy with the bat as well. The Bnagaleshi was banned for a year by the ICC for his failure to report match-fixing advances, but is likely to be bagged by a side for the upcoming IPL edition.
In 317 T20 games thus far, Shakib has scored over 5000 runs and has also picked up 360 wickets with best figures of 6 for 6. Moreover, his economy rate of 6.87 could help a side that has always been guilty of leaking runs aplenty. Shakib returned to international cricket last month, and picked up 6 wickets in the ODI series. He also had scores of 43* and 51, along with a 68 in the first Test against Windies, to prove that his skills have not diminished even after being away for a year.