Freddie Wilde previews the Royal Challengers Bangalore.
Last season: 6th
A late run of victories took RCB to the brink of qualification and a win in their last match of the season against Rajasthan Royals would have been enough to finish in the top four. However, they lost and ultimately finished sixth on Net Run Rate. This was probably a fair reflection on a season marred by death bowling struggles, inconsistencies in selection and an over-reliance on Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers.
RCB have made a number of changes to their squad from last season. Before the auction they released Brendon McCullum, Chris Woakes, Corey Anderson and Sarfaraz Khan, traded Quinton de Kock to Mumbai Indians and Mandeep Singh to Kings XI Punjab in exchange for Marcus Stoinis coming in to the squad. Star batsmen de Villiers and Kohli were retained along with all the all rounders and the majority of the bowling attack. At the auction RCB spent the bulk of their purse on three players: the exciting all rounder Shivam Dube, rising star batsman Shimron Hetmyer and the local batsman Akshdeep Nath. RCB also picked up South African wicket-keeper batsman Heinrich Klaasen for just Rs 50 lakh.
- Total players: 24
- Numbers of overseas players: 8
- Openers (1): Devdutt Padikkal
- Middle order batsmen (5): Virat Kohli, AB de Villiers, Milind Kumar, Himmat Singh, Shimron Hetmyer
- Wicket-keepers (2): Parthiv Patel, Heinrich Klaasen
- All rounders (7): Moeen Ali, Colin de Grandhomme, Marcus Stoinis, Prayas Ray Barman, Akshdeep Nath, Gurkeerat Singh, Shivam Dube
- Wrist spinners (1): Yuzvendra Chahal
- Finger spinners (2): Washington Sundar, Pawan Negi
- Pace bowlers (6): Kulwant Khejroliya, Umesh Yadav, Navdeep Saini, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Mohammad Siraj, Tim Southee
De Villiers is the best T20 batsman in the world and Kohli is one of the most consistent, together they have formed the bedrock of RCB’s batting for half a decade and will continue to do so this season. Hetymer is an exceptional talent and will join de Villiers and Kohli in a potentially fearsome triumvirate, Klaasen is also a dangerous T20 basman. On their day they RCB be hard to stop, particularly at the batting-friendly Chinnaswamy Stadium.
Chahal, Washington and Negi has the potential to be a strong spin trio. Chahal has been a consistent performer in the IPL for many years now. RCB need Washington to replicate his brilliant debut season, not his first season for RCB where his struggles robbed the team of a controlling finger spinner and a potential all rounder.
Umesh, Southee and Coulter-Nile are all dangerous new ball bowlers. The earlier wickets are taken the more valuable they are and last season Umesh was a revelation for RCB, making regular breakthroughs in the first six overs – helping RCB to the equal best Powerplay strike rate of all teams of 20.1 balls per wicket.
Indian batting depth
Aside from Kohli RCB’s Indian batting is alarmingly light. This was a problem for RCB last season with Indian players other than Kohli averaging 17.11 runs per dismissal. Since then they have traded Mandeep, their second highest Indian run-scorer last year, to KXIP and made no significant Indian additions to the batting other than Nath who remains unproven at IPL level. The experienced Parthiv will be carrying considerable responsibility.
Having used three overseas spots used on all rounders and spent a large proportion of their budget on batsmen RCB’s squad is unbalanced. They have a number of bowling options but their first choice attack is unclear while their batting appears to be heavily reliant on de Villiers, Kohli and Hetmyer.
Death bowling was one of RCB’s major problems last season – their economy rate in the last five overs of the innings of 11.86 was by far the worst in the competition. This season they will be strengthened by Coulter-Nile who missed last with injury but Umesh, Southee and Siraj are inconsistent defensive bowlers and they may struggle to contain runs towards the end of the innings once again.
Key Player: Virat Kohli
RCB’s reliance on Kohli cannot be overstated. Their failure to bolster the Indian batting leaves him with huge responsibility to anchor the innings and provide stability to the big hitters around him. His captaincy will also be put under pressure, particularly in the death overs where he lacks options.
4) de Villiers
Freddie Wilde is an analyst at CricViz. @fwildecricket