Who are the first two names on the RCB team sheet irrespective of the venue, the opposition or the state of the team in a season? No points for guessing, the names are of skipper Virat Kohli and Mr 360 AB de Villiers.
That is all well and good, and to be honest, most teams would give their hand off to have the duo in their ranks. By the same token, it does a lot of harm to the side given that so much of their fund share goes to the two stalwarts and the Royal Challengers Bangalore are seldom left with enough moolah in their kitty for other resource management. It is thus not without reason that despite the two stars in their ranks, Bangalore are yet to lay their hands on an IPL trophy.
Cue Ee Sala Cup Namde. Facepalm.
Pre-Auction Offloading and Onloading
The case this time though was different. The team had let go of big-bucks players like Chris Morris, Aaron Finch and Moeen Ali who flattered to deceive in the last season. This meant that they went into this year's auctions with a purse of INR 35.9 crore, the second-highest among the eight franchises.
RCB were in need of a top-order overseas batsman and a couple of all-rounders to provide balance to their generally-skewed side. They also needed an Indian back-up wicket-keeper, with Parthiv Patel having hung his boots.
The team does have a young and upcoming Australian wicket-keeper batsman in Josh Philippe who was sensational in this year's Big Bash League and finished as the Player of the tournament. AB de Villiers, too, has begun to entertain the idea of donning the big gloves.
It helped that RCB were successful in trading two quality all-rounders from Delhi Capitals. They roped in Australian all-rounder Daniel Sams who was sensational with both bat and ball in the 2019-20 season of The Big Bash League. This year as well, he picked up 11 wickets from 10 matches in the BBL at an average of 23.72 and an economy rate of 8.51 while scoring 200 runs at 40 and a strike rate of 188.
Harshal Patel was in terrific form in the last season of the Syed Mushtaq Ali trophy but did not participate in this year's edition.
The biggest buys for the franchise in this year's auctions ended up being Kyle Jamieson (INR 15 crore), Glenn Maxwell (INR 14.25 crore) and Daniel Christian (INR 4.80 crore).
Christian - A Great Buy
Daniel Christian at less than INR 5 crores is a great buy. The Australian all-rounder is a star in the T20 circuit across the globe but has been quite underrated in the IPL over the years. He has not been given an extended run in the league since 2017 despite proving his mettle in various other leagues.
Christian picked up 15 wickets in the last edition of the BBL at 26.53 while bowling at an economy rate of 8.84. He also scored 272 runs at 34 and a strike rate of 182.55, and it is a brilliant purchase.
I am afraid, the same cannot be said about their other two million-dollar buys - Glenn Maxwell and Kyle Jamieson.
Maxwell - How Long (And Big) Do You Bid on Promise?
It is no secret that Maxwell has been a huge disappointment in the IPL despite dishing out some sensational performances in T20 International cricket. Maxwell had a shocker in IPL 2020 and pilfered 108 runs at 15.42, without hitting a single six in the entire season.
The ridiculous thing is that despite his failures, he was expected to go for big bucks and this is exactly what transpired. RCB were in need of a big hitting all-rounder - yes, Maxwell can be called that now after sending down 126 balls in IPL 2020 - and their choice is not without reason.
RCB had their issues with middle-overs batting in the UAE and scored at just 6.93 between overs 7 and 15, the lowest among all franchises. They were looking for a middle-over enforcer but could have done with a more dependable player. Splurging 14.25 crores for a player who has managed an average of just 22.13 over 82 IPL matches seems unnecessary, doesn't it?
Jamieson - A Bit Too Much for Unproven Credentials
Their other massive buy is Kiwi all-rounder Kyle Jamieson who made his international debut only in February 2020 but has already taken the world by storm. There is little doubt that in his short international career, Jamieson has already proven himself as an all-rounder of pedigree in red-ball cricket.
The case in T20 cricket though is a lot different. In domestic T20 matches, he has scored 190 runs from 38 games at an average of 27.14 and a strike rate of 138.68. The lanky bowler has also picked up 54 wickets at 20.59 and an economy of a tick under eight. Good numbers, but nothing extraordinary.
In T20Is, he is yet to score a run and has picked up three wickets from four matches. While Jamieson may have looked impressive in the T20 Internationals against West Indies and Pakistan, it is worth noting that all his four T20 Internationals have been in the conditions of New Zealand which suit his style of play - to hold the ball on a particular patch and allow the conditions to do the rest. For a player without a single international match outside New Zealand, extravagantly spending INR 15 crore is not the wisest decision, surely.
To add to that, RCB already have Josh Philippe, AB de Villiers, Daniel Sams, Daniel Christian and Kane Richardson in their squad and it would be tough to fit in Jamieson and Maxwell at all times.
Value for Money Indian Buys
Srikar Bharat and Mohammed Azharuddeen are the two wicket-keeper batsmen that the team has roped in, both at a reasonable price of INR 20.00 lakh. RCB also successfully bid for three Indian batsmen of proven credentials - Suyash Prabhudessai, Rajat Patidar and Sachin Baby - each at INR 20.00 lakh.
All said and done, RCB have managed to rope in some impressive Indian talent. Despite that, the franchise's affinity for million-dollar buys might cost them big time, yet again.
Probable starting XI: Devdutt Padikkal, Virat Kohli, AB de Villiers (wk), Glenn Maxwell, Harshal Patel/Pavan Deshpande, Kyle Jamieson/Daniel Sams/Daniel Christian, Washington Sundar, Navdeep Saini, Kane Richardson, Mohammed Siraj, Yuzuvender Chahal