While the original expectation was that the Indian Premier League’s 14th edition would be preceded by a mega auction, franchises are set for another short-term recruitment drive. With no new teams added to the league, the eight existing franchises were given the chance to retain the bulk of their squad. And so, a maximum of 61 slots spread across teams are to be filled up during the IPL 2021 auction, to be held in Chennai. The tournament is expected to be played in India, starting from April. You can read about rest of the teams here.
The 2020 IPL season ended for Royal Challengers Bangalore as many a season in the past has ended. With a series of defeats, no trophy and questions over Virat Kohli’s captaincy. But the early part of the season was so impressive for the team that they managed to re-enter the post-season after a couple of poor campaigns. The way it ended clouded over the fact RCB actually had a pretty season overall.
The problems, though, were once again evident. The squad’s over-dependence on Kohli and AB de Villiers was not quite addressed despite the breakthrough season that Devdutt Padikkal had. The captain’s rusty sesaon did not help either even as the bowling was inconsistent despite impressing in patches.
In what would turn out to be the last match of the season, Kohli walked out to open the batting to shake things up and it did not pay off. But it was a clear indication of where the team’s problems lay.
Results in last three seasons
|Season||League stage finish||Playoff result|
|IPL 2020||4th||Lost in Eliminator|
Speaking on Star Sports when the retentions were confirmed, former New Zealand and CSK all-rounder Scott Styris was stunned looking at the names that RCB had let go. He could not quite come to terms with the fact that the team chose to go for a massive overhaul despite a playoff finish. But in essence, except for Chris Morris perhaps, the team management did not let go of any indispensable member of the squad (and Aaron Finch simply did not do enough to merit retention).
Players released after IPL 2020: Chris Morris, Shivam Dube, Aaron Finch, Umesh Yadav, Dale Steyn, Moeen Ali, Parthiv Patel, Pawan Negi, Isuru Udana, Gurkeerat Mann
Player traded in: Harshal Patel and Daniel Sams from DC
What was also impressive was the trade of two all-rounders from Delhi Capitals. By bringing in Harshal Patel, RCB have strengthened their bowling options because the team did not get enough out of Shivam Dube. In Daniel Sams, they have an upgrade in the batting department compared to Isuru Udana, while both of them are similar type of bowlers. The teams that go trade in the off-season, usually have a clear plan in mind and it is an appreciable move from RCB.
RCB squad for IPL 2021 ahead of auction
|Virat Kohli||Mohammed Siraj||AB de Villiers||Washington Sundar|
|Devdutt Padikkal||Navdeep Saini||Josh Phillipe||Harshal Patel|
|Pavan Deshpande||Yuzvendra Chahal||Daniel Sams|
There could be quite a bit of inflating and deflating going on from the RCB table. They have the most slots left to fill in the squad (even if they don’t *have* to, like they left a few empty last season). There is no doubt that the focus would be on getting three good overseas players to improve their existing Indian core.
Salary cap remaining: Rs 35.40 crores
Overall slots remaining: 11
Overseas slots remaining: 3
Areas to target
- Middle-order power-hitter
- Indian wicketkeeper
- Top order overseas batsman
- Spin-bowling allrounder
Whisper this, but RCB could really do worse than going for Glenn Maxwell in the auction as one of their primary targets. The team’s batting order is crying out for a floating power-hitter given the workload on a certain South African. Having released Moeen Ali, they could also use a spin-bowling option. If (and it’s a big if) they believe they can get the best out of maverick Aussie star, he would fill in a gap perfectly in the squad.
An Indian spinner as a squad option should on their shopping list as well as a back-up wicket-keeping option if they are not keen on a certain South African carrying that load as well.
It’s the batting that looks light and given the purse available, the franchise could look at one or even two marquee overseas names if they are willing to punt. The likes of Jason Roy,
In a video piece from their digital team, Director of Operations Mike Hesson gave some interesting insight into the thought process ahead of the auction. “This year was a good chance for us to make our own assessment of players in differentsituations and also make calls over whether we felt they fitted the way we wanted to play as a team,” the former New Zealand head coach, who teamed up with Simon Katich for IPL 2020 as part of the think-tank, said.
“So, you know you factor all of those things in... you also factor a small auction in terms of trying to open up some cash to be able to buy some potential targets and that gives you flexibility; it doesn’t mean that you know some of those players we might not want back at a different price point, so all of those things are thrown into the melting pot,” Hesson added.
Whether that means that RCB are looking to bring perhaps Morris back for a price that is not high as last time around, remains to be seen. But clearly, the franchise rates him highly enough to think his absence due to injury for crucial matches was one of the reasons for their drop-off.
The one thing that has been clear since Hesson-Katich-Kohli joined hands is that the franchise seems to be formulating plans better (even if it did not seem evident in the last auction). The management will once again be busy in the auction this time, and given the time they have had to work together, the result at the end of the day in Chennai, could set this team up for improving further.
IPL 2021: Purse & squad details before auction
|Franchise||No of Players||No of Overseas Players||Purse remaining (Rs crores)||Available Slots||Overseas Slots|
The auction will be telecast on Star Sports Network on 18 February from 3 pm IST.