After the auction for 2020 edition of Indian Premier League, in this series we take a look at how the teams stack up and what their strengths, weaknesses are.
Breakdown of the RCB squad with players bought at the auction highlighted in bold:
Royal Challengers Bangalore
|Virat Kohli||Yuzvendra Chahal||Moeen Ali||Parthiv Patel|
|AB de Villiers||Mohammed Siraj||Pawan Negi||Shahbaz Ahmed|
|Gurkeerat Mann||Umesh Yadav||Shivam Dube||Joshua Philippe|
|Devdutt Padikkal||Navdeep Saini||Washington Sundar|
|Aaron Finch||Kane Richardson||Christopher Morris|
|Dale Steyn||Isuru Udana|
Death, taxes and Royal Challengers Bangalore making you scratch your head with their auction strategy: some things in life won’t change.
Despite the wholesale changes to the backroom staff after the 2019 season, RCB fans would have hoped for an auction where the team went and strengthened a squad desperately in need of rejuvenation. Mike Hesson, the new Director of Cricket, spent time at the Syed Mushtaq Ali T20 tournament and won himself brownie points with the fans. Here’s a guy putting in the effort needed, one though.
Let’s get the positives out of the way first: in Devdutt Padikkal, they have one of the most promising young Indian batsmen already in their ranks and by adding Aaron Finch to the mix, they have an exciting opening pair to look forward to with Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers propping up the line-up. RCB’s batting has always been one a strong point and they now have a top four that is potentially among the best in the league.
Kohli had also mentioned repeatedly how he is excited by the domestic talent the team had brought in before last season, and in Shivam Dube and Navdeep Saini, RCB have two more talented players who can kick on next season.
Players bought in by RCB
|Shahbaz Ahamad||Wicket Keeper||₹20,00,000|
|Joshua Philippe||Wicket Keeper||₹20,00,000|
But after releasing their overseas players wholesale, RCB finished the auction on Thursday in Kolkata by ending up a squad that looks...RCB-esque. As we wrote in the auction takeaways, Hesson and Co did not make the best use of their funds.
At the end of the first session of the auction, when nearly 80 player names had been drawn, RCB had signed a grand total of two players: Aaron Finch and Chris Morris. There is no logic to that at all even taking auction dynamics into account when the franchise had so many gaps to plug. And by spending Rs 10 crores on Morris, a player who has been infuriatingly inconsistent in the league, they raised more eyebrows. In fact, had KKR not swooped in late, RCB were about to spend Rs 15 crores on Pat Cummins alone out of their Rs 27.90 crore budget.
As it turned out in the end, RCB filled up two overseas slots in the final round with players who went unsold twice before: Dale Steyn and Isuru Udana. That reeks of being unprepared with options to sign at the auction. The team did get a good player in with Aaron Finch and a steal for promising wicketkeeper Joshua Philippe but Mike Hesson and Co, it must be said, had a forgettable day.
Newly-appointed head coach Simon Katich, obviously, said he was happy with how the squad has shaped up. “The beauty of the squad at the moment is that we have retained so many Indian players, we have retained 11. We have got a lot of flexibility with how we line up,” the Australian told Star Sports on the day of the auction.
“Aaron is a top-order player but he has also batted everywhere in the batting order. The team will come first before any individual’s spot. The beauty is that you have experience at the top of the order and Morris’ experience as an all-rounder. You know realistically who is going to go for what otherwise there is no point structuring your budget because you are dreaming if you think that you will get everyone you want while knowing that they (the players) are going to be in demand,” he added.
But looking at it from a big picture, RCB have signed only two players who are nailed on to come into the starting XI if the tournament starts now: Finch and, at a stretch, Morris. Richardson or Steyn will add experience to the line-up, yes but they are not quite the game-changing buys for a franchise in need of game-changers.
Former SRH coach Tom Moody summed it up perfectly. “For me it looks exactly the same as it was in the past 3 seasons. They are lightning with their bat, but with the ball it doesn’t seem we can shut you down if you are in trouble,” the Australian said.
Hesson, Katich and Co might still get the best out of this side and turn them into contenders but, on paper, RCB continue to look like a side with a bowling lineup that is incapable of challenging the best sides in the tournament.