IPL Team Analysis: RCB Bolster Bowling, Add Seasoned Players
A look at RCB’s auction choices after they spent almost half of their kitty on Chris Morris and Aaron Finch.
Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) have time and again underwhelmed in the IPL despite possessing a potent batting-order driven by the likes of Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers.
Usually aggressive bidders, RCB was off the mark early in the auction on Thursday as they roped in the Aussie T20 skipper, Aaron Finch. Chris Morris followed soon after for a whopping Rs 10 crores, but since then the Mike Hesson-led franchise chose to be circumspect, keeping their cards close to the chest.
New additions: Aaron Finch (Rs 4.4 cr), Chris Morris (Rs 10 cr), Josh Philippe (Rs 20 lakh), Pavan Deshpande (Rs 20 lakh), Dale Steyn (Rs 2 cr), Shahbaz Ahmed (Rs 20 lakh), Isuru Udana (Rs 50 lakh)
Retained Squad: Virat Kohli, Moeen Ali, Yuzvendra Chahal, AB de Villiers, Parthiv Patel, Mohammed Siraj, Pawan Negi, Umesh Yadav, Gurkeerat Mann, Devdutt Padikkal, Shivam Dube, Washington Sundar, Navdeep Saini
Players released: Marcus Stoinis, Shimron Hetmyer, Akshdeep Nath, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Colin de Grandhomme, Prayas Ray Barman, Tim Southee, Kulwant Khejroliya, Himmat Singh, Heinrich Klaasen, Milind Kumar.
RCB went into the auction with Rs 27.9 crores and 12 slots to fill. After two rounds, they had shelled out Rs 14.4 crores for Finch and Morris combined, leaving them with quite a few holes to plug and less bank balance. But, the experience of Mike Hesson seemed to work in their favour as RCB resisted the urge to dish out big money at expendable players. They did try bringing in players like Varun Chakravarthy, Rahul Tripathi, Alex Carey and Chris Jordan, but importantly backed down as soon as the price rose higher.
Waiting for the last round with Rs 9-plus crores remaining in their purse was RCB’s smartest move and it allowed them to pick the likes of Dale Steyn, Isuru Udana – a handy all-rounder and a back-up for Chris Morris in case he doesn’t find his groove – and Pavan Deshpande. Kane Richardson at Rs 4 crore is a wicket-taking option for them although it’s hard to see him make the starting XI ahead of Morris or Steyn.
What They Did Right
RCB had their priorities sorted out for once and wasn’t too eager to get into bidding wars like they have been before. Instead, they chose to spend on the absolute must-haves they had in the list – Aaron Finch and Chris Morris. Having acquired the two big names, RCB tried their luck at getting in a few value-for-money purchases, but quickly shelved the plan as they realised waiting for the last round was possibly smarter.
Even in the last few rounds, RCB were careful with their choices and in fact bagged two rather underrated T20 talents in Josh Philippe, the Big Bash League hero who has been hogging headlines of late, and Isuru Udana. While Philippe will serve as Heinrich Klaasen’s (released before auction) replacement, Udana will fill in for someone like Nathan Coulter-Nile with his pace variations and lower-order hitting forming a potent combo.
Chris Morris is a dynamic pick who can replace Stoinis and perform his role in the side much better. A good death overs bowler and a power hitter, Morris will serve a dual purpose by also plugging the death overs issue they have.
Pavan Deshpande offers a middle-order batting option who can also chip in with the ball and at Rs 20 lakh is a decent buy.
Final Squad Analysis
While RCB have covered most bases at the auction, they still look a tad weak in the middle-order with an impactful no. 5 back-up batsman for Shivam Dube missing in their ranks. With AB de Villiers, Devdutt Padikkal, Virat Kohli, Aaron Finch and Moeen Ali at the top, RCB have too many top-order batsmen but lesser finishers. Squeezing in a Parthiv Patel or else wasting a spot for a young keeper will be on the cards. Unless Parthiv bats at 6 or de Villiers keeps, we might see one of those powerful top 5 batsmen having to move down the order.
Death overs bowling will be on Dale Steyn – a last-ditch buy at his base price – and Chris Morris although it remains to be seen if they can play both in tandem, a very unlikely proposition. Navdeep Saini, Morris/Steyn and Umesh Yadav are likely to be the pacers in the starting XI which could mean that death overs options are still slim.
Fitting in the available players in their top seven will be RCB’s biggest task this season. They have a lot of right players but with overlapping roles, it could be tricky to find the ideal combination that could work for them.
Predicted Starting XI
Devdutt Padikkal, Aaron Finch (overseas), Virat Kohli (c), AB de Villiers (overseas), Moeen Ali (overseas), Shivam Dube, Parthiv Patel (wk), Chris Morris (overseas), Yuzvendra Chahal, Umesh Yadav, Navdeep Saini
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