The Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) has often boasted of some of the biggest superstars from all around the world. Their batting order is so fierce that it often sends shivers down the spines of the opposition bowlers. However, things have seemed to change in recent times. With the nature of the pitch at the Chinnaswamy Stadium changing, there has been more emphasis on bowling than ever before.
The lack of nip in the bowling attack showed clearly in the previous two IPL seasons. Hence, the results haven’t been as per their liking. In this auction, the RCB management has worked a bit on this weakness. While it remains a question mark if these new set of additions will make a difference overall, the bowling attack looks more promising now. The side appears more dynamic and flexible which gives the captain a few more options to play around with.
Here is how the starting XI of the Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) could look like:
1. Parthiv Patel (wk)
Apart from the new recruit Shahbaz Ahmed, Parthiv Patel is the only other Indian wicket-keeper in RCB’s ranks. Clearly, he is the better option for them and thus will find a place in the starting XI. However, Parthiv Patel hasn’t made many significant contributions to RCB in the past with the bat.
His role has been to pick the gaps and score some quick runs in the powerplay. He isn’t one of those big hitters of the cricket ball and fancies playing shots along the ground. Even for this season, he will possibly have a similar role to play.
Parthiv is a decent option behind the stumps. He is often a safe catcher and should do the job in the shortest format of the game. Since RCB has got more depth in the batting order now, Parthiv Patel can look to be more aggressive than he earlier was.
2. Aaron Finch
Aaron Finch at just INR 4.40 crores is a steal deal for RCB. The Australia captain has got some unfinished business in the IPL. He struggled in the 2017 and 2018 seasons. Further, he opted out of the IPL 2019 season because he wanted to prepare for the World Cup 2019.
In recent times though, he has looked to be in great form with the bat. Moreover, he brings great leadership qualities to the table for his team. The last time India toured Australia, he had an interesting banter with the Test skipper Tim Paine that Bengaluru is the only team that he didn’t represent.
Apparently, Virat seems to actually like him which could be good news. At the top of the order, Aaron Finch can look to play with full freedom with someone like Virat Kohli coming to bat after him. He won’t have someone like a David Warner here for company and should look to play the aggressor.
3. Virat Kohli (c)
Virat Kohli likes opening the innings when he plays for the RCB. That way, he gets an opportunity to take advantage of the field restrictions and he even gets some extra time to get his eye in. However, things will have to change this season and that could be beneficial for him in a way.
In all likelihood, the 31-year-old will bat at three for India in the T20 World Cup 2020. Thus, playing around 14 games or more could be a wonderful preparation for him. Since the Indian opening combination is somewhat similar, Virat will have different scenarios to adjust to and that will come in handy when you look at the bigger picture.
Depending on the conditions, they might also prefer to play Moeen Ali in the middle order instead of Aaron Finch. Then, Virat can open the innings. Also, his captaincy moves will be closely monitored this season. With all the resources available, Virat has managed to do well with Team India. But the options are comparatively limited and restricted here and that is what might test him.
4. AB de Villiers
AB de Villiers is the kind of player anyone would love to have in their team. He is a complete package and a team man. The former South Africa cricketer is electric on the field and is capable of pulling off some blinders. Moreover, he can be quite flexible with his batting position and can fit into different situations quite comfortably.
AB de Villiers might have to bat at number three or four for RCB this season depending on the combination the team goes ahead with. His MSL 2019 form is a great sign and the fans would want him to replicate similar exploits in the upcoming IPL season as well. The cricketer performed really well in the last two seasons.
He mustered 480 runs in 12 games at an average of 53.33 back in 2018. In 2019, he scored 442 runs in 13 games. Now that there is no international cricket burden, he can express himself completely given that he decides not to make a comeback to the South Africa side.
5. Shivam Dube
In the recent T20I series against the West Indies, Shivam Dube has shown a glimpse of what he is capable of. He is a clean striker of the cricket ball and hits a long way. However, there are a few aspects of his game that he will need to work on further.
Dube should work on his off-side game as teams might look to target him with those wide of off-stump deliveries. Also, he should add a few more variations to his bowling and should be able to deliver at least a couple of overs as per the requirement. Unlike they do with most of the other players, Virat Kohli and the management should look to back Shivam for the entire season irrespective of his performances.
He is still a young cricketer and will gradually evolve into the role the team expects him to fit into. Shivam Dube is one of those players who can win a few games completely on his own with the bat. RCB should identify him as a great batting option and must provide him with chances at five on a consistent basis.
6. Chris Morris
The market price for Chris Morris was expected to go down slightly after the Delhi Capitals (DC) decided to leave him. Also, his form of late hasn’t been very encouraging. However, his value still holds for the franchises and it could be seen at the auction.
RCB seemed adamant about having him in the team and went hard to finally get him at INR 10 crores. From the outlook of things, this seems a good addition to the squad. They have been looking for a big hitter down the order. Morris can do that right from the first ball and should be preferred over Moeen Ali given that he can bowl at different stages of an innings.
Morris, on most of the days, can give four overs and has got some good experience of playing in various T20 leagues. He could be a solution to RCB’s death bowling woes. Even though he might not be the best, he can definitely do a better job than some of the others in the last couple of seasons. It shouldn’t be a surprise even if RCB bowls at least three of his overs in the last 10.
7. Washington Sundar
With the current set-up, RCB can have as many as 8 bowling options in their line-up without upsetting the balance of the side. The likes of Aaron Finch, Shivam Dube and Washington Sundar are only an icing on the cake. Compared to the other two, Sundar is the better bowling option and is capable of delivering four overs in most of the games.
The off-spinner has first started off as a bowler who does a fair job in the powerplay overs. Teams often preferred completing his quota right at the start. But in recent times, he has matured as a bowler and adapted to different situations really well, which is a huge positive for the franchise.
RCB can use him in various situations and he is quite economical with the ball. But it will be interesting to see how he reacts when he becomes a target bowler for the oppositions. He can do a fair job with the bat and RCB can have faith in him to bat at seven.
8. Umesh Yadav
Even though he performed well in the last couple of seasons, Umesh Yadav failed to contribute to the balance of the side. The fast bowler did a good job with the new ball in hand by swinging it both ways and often posed questions to the top-order batsmen. However, the same good and short length deliveries that he operates with at the start of the innings aren’t effective in the latter half.
Thus, he became a target for the opposition batsmen in the death overs. RCB didn’t have a better option to replace him either. But this time around, they have got a few bases covered and therefore can manage to make the best use of Umesh Yadav.
Virat Kohli can bowl four overs of Umesh straightaway at the top with the other options he’s got. If Umesh can provide the team with a couple of early wickets, he can be very useful. Some might argue that the team needs a better batting option at this position. But this combination seems the best to make up for the shortcomings of the team and the other batsmen will have to take up more responsibility.
9. Dale Steyn
There are a couple of other options other the Dale Steyn for this fourth overseas spot in the line-up. For obvious reasons, it has to be a genuine bowler and not an all-rounder. Kane Richardson and Isuru Udana are the options that the team has got. Kane Richardson has got a great record in the BBL and has done extremely well in recent times.
Kane has got some brilliant variations and can be useful as a death bowling option. Udana adds more depth to the batting and is a great option as well. This is a spot they will have to figure out as the tournament goes on as all three are great options. Dale Steyn, though, is the most experienced campaigner and will definitely make it to the Starting XI.
He has been brilliant in MSL 2019 and Quinton de Kock made terrific use of him. Virat should pluck a leaf out his the South African wicket-keeper’s book and should try to use Dale in a similar way. He should be looked at as a wicket-taking option in the middle overs rather than someone who can be used to bowl a couple of overs towards the death. Steyn has been a game-changer in this role for the Cape Town Blitz.
10. Navdeep Saini
Navdeep Saini and Mohammed Siraj are two options who can be looked at for this spot. The former, however, has been the preferred choice and will definitely make it to the Starting XI. In recent times, Saini has been bowling really well.
He can hurry the batsmen with his pace and has also shown signs of improvement with his death bowling in the last season. Unless they decide to go with an additional Indian batsman, Navdeep Saini is highly likely to find a place in the side. Moreover, he has got the backing from the captain which is a great confidence booster for any bowler.
With the number of bowling options they have, RCB can be more flexible with Saini. He might have an off-day or two. Yet, the management should look to instil confidence in him and must give him complete backing.
11. Yuzvendra Chahal
There isn’t anyone better than Yuzvendra Chahal to round this eleven off. The leg-spinner is a brilliant option when it comes to the shortest format of the game. Chahal is extremely smart about how he goes about things and has been one of the most successful wrist spinners in the IPL
In the last three IPL seasons, Chahal didn’t pick as many wickets as he picked in some of the earlier seasons. His strike rates went up when compared to the IPL 2015 and 2016 seasons. One of the reasons behind this could be that RCB chose to use him in different roles and put him out of his comfort zones at times.
Virat Kohli surely has got some good bowling options this time. He might not have the kind of death bowlers he’d have liked. But there are resources and he’d be tested how he will use them. Making the optimum use of Chahal and Sundar will be a challenge.
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