Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) had a decent budget going into the IPL 2020 auction, but they had a few key and major pain points that they were trying to address. With 27.9 crores in their pocket, they were looking for a bowling all-rounder who can complement Moeen Ali in the middle-order, an overseas fast bowler and a back-up keeper for Parthiv Patel.
While they managed to seal a couple of good deals in the auction, the most noticeable of which was the Aussie opener, Aaron Finch, they would still be a little disappointed with their overall work. They certainly could have bolstered their squad by including some young uncapped players who largely went unsold at the mini-auction.
RCB couldn’t get the right kind of fast bowlers they needed to fill the loopholes in their bowling- an area that has haunted them and their ardent fans all these years. They needed fast bowlers who could bowl yorkers rather than those who bowls good length and mostly rely on variations. But, all the three overseas fast bowlers they ended up buying fall in the second category.
One gets the notion that they could have tried harder to get either Sheldon Cottrell or Patt Cummins who could have sorted their death bowling woes. But from his brief stint in IPL 2019, Dale Steyn proved to be the leader of the attack that RCB missed. Under him, the likes of Mohammad Siraj and Navdeep Saini flourished. So it’s a positive sign that Steyn is back in their squad for IPL 2020.
Here’s looking at the 3 best buys at the players’ auction for Royal Challengers Bangalore:
1. Dale Steyn (South Africa)
It can be argued that Dale Steyn is someone who is at the fag end of his career as a fast bowler. With age not being on his side and injuries ruling him out of competitive cricket for the most part of 2019, it was a big doubt as to which franchise would opt to buy him. And it didn’t come as a big surprise when Dale Steyn went unsold in the first round of the auction.
It was when he was bought back in the second round of the Accelerated Auctions did RCB show interest and acquire him at his base price of 2 crores. Steyn’s best performance in MSL 2019 came when he took 2 for 4 in his opening spell, which included deceiving Dean Elgar with a slower ball and then he claimed the big fish, AB de Villiers, who top-edged in the dying stages of the Spartans innings. The speedster mentioned that it was an achievement of sorts for him to be able to dismiss ABD.
The 15 wickets Steyn took at 15.13 contributed to him now having his best T20 average since 2012. His ability to strike upfront and operate at the death could serve a dual purpose for RCB in IPL 2020. He would need to take on the mantle of being the leader of the bowling attack and guide the other bowlers to deliver and maintain composure under pressure situations at the death overs.
This purchase by RCB at the last minute is a very good one, something that the team required. Steyn at full fitness even now can pose a huge threat both at the beginning and at the death overs.
2. Aaron Finch (Australia)
Virat Kohli led-RCB had the worst outing in the 2019 season. This was the prime reason that they retained 12 players, but only two amongst them are overseas. Hence, RCB decided to go all guns blazing to acquire Aaron Finch in the auction. The best thing for RCB is that they have a bankable, reliable opener who can attack right from the word go who can partner the sensationally talented Devdutt Paddikal.
There is no doubt that Challengers are relying heavily on Kohli and AB de Villiers, therefore, Finch’s addition will certainly solve this problem. The Aussie right-hander can give a different dimension to this line-up. Finch has also transformed his LOI game in 2019 and that is an added advantage for a team that’s in pursuit of their elusive first IPL title.
Finch has the potential to go after the bowling and tear them in parts. The pitch at RCB’s home ground will also help him express himself very well. His game against the spinners can be iffy at times, but his inclusion allows Kohli and ABD to play sheet anchor roles in the middle order and allow the likes of Moen Ali and Chris Morris to finish the innings off.
Also, Finch being the limited-overs captain of Australia, can offer a helping hand to Kohli when required. The Indian skipper prefers to guide his team from the boundary in the end overs as he’s an exceptional boundary rider. It at this time where Finch could chip in and make some subtle fielding changes and guide the bowlers if required.
3. Chris Morris (South Africa)
Having lost his national contract in April and made himself unavailable for the India tour, Chris Morris appeared to have taken his career into his own hands, and what a decision that has turned out to be. Morris had strong returns at the IPL (13 wickets in nine matches at 23.53) and the Vitality Blast in England (12 wickets in 11 matches at 24.75 for Hampshire) and his 10 wickets in the MSL 2019 means that he has taken more T20 wickets in 2019 than in any other calendar year in his career. But it’s not just the wickets that matter in Morris’ case, it’s the timing of them.
Morris has displayed greater maturity and willingness to play under pressure, whether batting or bowling, something RCB have always required and in search of over the years. He is also a genuine lower-middle-order batsman, which is a huge boost for RCB as they have a good batsman who can assist Moeen Ali to finish innings.
The ability to bowl well at the death overs along with a gun arm in the outfield coupled with his explosive batting are the reasons why RCB broke their bank and spent 10 crores to buy him. They will need Morris to deliver some fine overs at the back end of the innings and support and guide the Indian bowlers in the squad like Siraj, Umesh Yadav, Pawan Negi and Navdeep Saini.
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