The Indian Premier League auction on December 19 will see teams bidding for more than 300 players to fill up 73 slots (with 29 of those for overseas players). This is a mini-auction with some teams opting to retain bulk of their side while a few have opted for a revamp. The auction for IPL 2021 will offer teams a chance to reset their squads so this year, it will be about preparing for just the upcoming season and not exactly looking at the long haul. In this series, we take a look at what teams need for the upcoming season.
For the neutrals (if such a group exists), Royal Challengers Bangalore are the perennial entertainers in the IPL. Not exactly for the quality of cricket they play — although that can be breathtaking at times — but for the tragicomedy that their journey in the tournament has been. Often boasting of the biggest names on paper, often filled with hype and enthusiasm in the period after an auction and before the tournament begins, RCB have the knack of under-performing in the best of years and struggling to make an impact at other times.
And here we are, getting ready to see if another season of changes behind the scenes will take them to the promised land in IPL. Former New Zealand coach Mike Hesson’s appointment as director has already enthused fans into thinking there will be more purpose and research going into their recruitment, which they have gotten spectacularly wrong in the past.
And on December 19, the team has another interesting day in store at the auction room with plenty of slots to fill in the squad but perhaps not enough dough to back them up. In a way, RCB might be forced to look for good bargain buys and for a franchise that has not always known what to do with the money in hand, it might not be a bad thing.
Purse available: Rs 27.90 crores
Remaining slots: 12
Overseas player slots: 6
Players released before auction (12): Marcus Stoinis, Shimron Hetymer, Akshdeep Nath, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Colin De Grandhomme, Prayas Ray Barman, Tim Southee, Kulwant Khejroliya, Himmat Singh, Heinrich Klaasen, Milind Kumar (and Dale Steyn, who was a mid-season replacement)
Current RCB squad composition
|Virat Kohli||Yuzvendra Chahal||Moeen Ali||Parthiv Patel|
|AB de Villiers||Mohammed Siraj||Pawan Negi|
|Gurkeerat Mann||Umesh Yadav||Shivam Dube|
|Devdutt Padikkal||Navdeep Saini||Washington Sundar|
Strengths of current squad
The batting of RCB continues to look solid on paper and in Devdutt Padikkal, they have the hottest property in the current Indian domestic season already in their squad. He is almost like a new signing, and one that Hesson has been keeping a close eye on. It should be a no-brainer for RCB to play Padikkal as their opening batsmen and have Kohli at No 3 with AB de Villiers to follow.
The domestic all-rounders in the squad are in good shape too with Dube and Washington expected to play significant roles this time around and Moeen Ali providing the star value.
Kohli stressed on many occasions during the course of their roller-coaster 2019 season that he is excited by the domestic talent in the squad and the franchise has now looked to back most of them for a second season running.
What the team needs at the auction
Having let go of a bunch of overseas players, RCB will have to look for quality foreign players but do not have the budget to break the bank. While KXIP have more than Rs 40 crores to spend on nine players, RCB have less than Rs 30 crores to spulrge on 12 players and six of those are overseas slots. Plenty will depend on the draw order of players on RCB might not have a say on who they bid for. They might be secretly hoping one of Chris Lynn, Tom Banton or Glenn Maxwell get their names drawn towards the end as all three of them would add quality to the batting line-up. Having an explosive opening batsman will free up the responsibility on the shoulders of Kohli and de Villiers as well.
Having let go of Shimron Hetmyer might not be the best of decisions made by the new support staff and it is unlikely they will be able to get him back on the cheap.
The squad is also short of wicketkeeping options and might take a punt with Robin Uthappa (a man who knows the Chinnaswamy Stadium like the back of his hand) for that slot, if not an overseas back-up option. Having released Akshdeep Nath and Prayas Ray Barman too, the franchise will be on the lookout for domestic batting talent like Jharkhand’s Virat Singh and Karnataka’s Rohan Kadam.
Overseas all-rounders and pacers are also areas the squad is desperately short of and Pat Cummins would fit the bill for the side, if they could afford him.
But, as mentioned above, it is difficult to imagine how much of what RCB need is in their control. A lot will depend on the luck of the draw for Kohli and Hesson and they better have backup plans for their backup plans.