Going into the auction, although RCB had the second largest purse, having released half of their squad, they also had the most numbers of gaps to fill.
Players Bought: Glenn Maxwell, Sachin Baby, Rajat Patidar, Mohammed Azharuddeen, Kyle Jamieson, Srikar Bharat, Suyash Prabhudessai, Daniel Christian
Death bowling looking thin?
After releasing Morris, RCB were left only with Saini – who himself blows hot and cold – as a death-bowling option in the squad. That might be a controversial statement given the retention of Kane Richardson, who comes across as a first-rate death-bowler in the BBL. Although, it’s critical to note that the IPL – a league of much finer batting quality, played in smaller grounds in India – poses different challenges altogether. Therefore, Richardson, who unlike Saini neither has the pace to trouble batsmen by hitting the hard-lengths, nor has a good, accurate yorker to contain batsmen can’t be relied upon to deliver at the death.
In fact, RCB could’ve released Kane, added an additional 4 crores to their kitty and push harder for his compatriot, Jhye Richardson and probably even Adam Milne, a proper top-tail seamer, at the auction.
Ultimately, RCB ended up acquiring the services of the 2.03m tall seamer – Kyle Jamieson – who with his ability to hit-the-deck hard and extract awkward bounce can cause inconvenience to the batsman. Whilst there’s little scepticism regarding the new-ball value he brings to the side, it’s his ability to bowl at the death that’s under scrutiny.
As per his coaches, Kyle – a fast learner – is working extremely hard on trying to ameliorate his white-ball skillset by developing the yorker, especially the wide yorker. If he’s able to learn and execute it consistently, given his high release point, it’ll be enormously beneficial for both – him, and the team.
That said, one must remember that Jamieson still is new to white-ball cricket and has never played a match in Asia. Thus, one can’t really be confident about his returns, consequently making RCB’s death-bowling unit highly unpredictable this season.
The middle overs conundrum
Last year, facing spin between overs 7-16, whilst all of RCB’s three main batsmen – Devdutt, Virat & AB – averaged above 60, Virat striked at just 105, Devdutt striked at only 118 and AB at 123, hence making RCB the worst performing side in the middle-overs. While this partly was due to the absence of a dependable finisher, it majorly was due to the impotence of the batsmen to accelerate vs spin. This season, by signing Maxwell & Christian, RCB have made an attempt to resolve their issues.
Maxwell, who has a strike-rate of 163.15 vs spin (albeit at an average of 24.42) in the IPL, might be the individual the team desperately requires in the middle-order, potentially sandwiched between Virat & AB. Of course, it’s a huge gamble considering Maxwell’s record in the IPL since 2015, but given his talent, skill and recent performances (we say this before every season, don’t we?), he’s not a bad buy. One can only stay optimistic since if he gets going, he’s an out-and-out T20 match-winner.
A specialist pace power-hitter, the 37 years old Dan Christian – often hailed as the title-winning magnet – brings a fair amount of experience and solidity to the lower middle-order.
Not to forget, both – Maxwell & Dan – can always chip in with a few overs.
Although, I would’ve been happier had RCB gone for Fabian Allen, a ferocious finisher who obliterates any trash bowling, instead of Christian.
RCB also made a few shrewd domestic acquisitions at the auction.
Sachin Baby, a former RCB player, was one brilliant buy. The southpaw boasts of impressive statistics in the past 3 editions of the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy and can potentially be deployed as a floater vs spin-bowling in the middle-overs. Besides Baby, RCB also bought the impressive Mohammed Azharuddeen – who smashed a swashbuckling 37 ball ton vs Mumbai last month – as an Indian keeper-batsman.
But the most impressive purchase of all was that of Suyash Prabhudessai, a young power-hitter from Goa. From whatever few videos available on the internet, one can watch and say that the lad possesses some serious potential and can be an asset in the future. Credit to Malolan Rangarajan, the head of scouting at RCB.
On paper atleast, the batting looks sorted. There are enough back-up options as well. The spin-bowling department in the presence of Chahal, Zampa, Sundar & Shahbaz always was top-notch. Powerplay bowling and middle-overs bowling also look sorted, thus leaving death-bowling as the major concern.
Overall, RCB neither had a brilliant auction nor a bad one. My first look at the squad (yet to go in-depth) says that if Saini has a good season, one can expect RCB to thrive this time around… fingers crossed!