A batting heavy side who have underachieved time and again – that is how the Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) team has been personified over the last few seasons. Not surprisingly, a bottom of the table finish last season, has made them rethink their strategy.
Having gotten rid of the likes of Chris Gayle and KL Rahul, RCB will now look to have their batting revolve around skipper Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers, both of whom have been retained from the prior season. Add to that the likes of Brendon McCullum and Quinton de Kock and one might still say that the batting is top heavy. McCullum had a relatively under par performance in the Pakistan Super League 2018 in which he did not register a single fifty in ten games and had a strike rate of only 110.65. This might well make the scales heavier in de Kock’s favor, should they have to choose between one of the two.
However, they have added to their armory, Washington Sundar, who has been brilliant when it comes to powerplay bowling and has with him the likes of Tim Southee, Chris Woakes and Umesh Yadav to go along with Pawan Negi and Yuzvendra Chahal.
The addition of Sundar will allow Chahal to operate during the middle overs – something which he has done with success in the past. Add to that the pace of Yadav, Woakes and Mohammed Siraj and they have more than a decent bowling attack. One must also not forget the batting abilities of Woakes and Negi, which could give them much needed fire power in the latter stages of the innings.
The likes of Parthiv Patel, Manan Vohra, Mandeep Singh and Sarfraz Khan are expected to fill up the empty batting slots. Even though Sarfraz was one of the retained players from last season, he has played very little cricket of late and managed only 70 runs from seven innings in the recently concluded Syed Mushtaq Ali tournament.
Also present in the squad are New Zealand all-rounders Corey Anderson and Colin de Grandhomme, although only one out of the two might find a place in the first eleven. England all-rounder Moeen Ali is also in the squad and given his current form, he too might struggle to come into playing contention.
RCB have a lot of options in their squad this season and appear to be pretty well balanced. While they do have quite a good international contingent, it will be the performances of the slightly inexperienced Indian players that might make the difference for them this season.
Probable best XI – Quinton de Kock (wk), Manan Vohra, Virat Kohli (c), AB de Villiers, Sarfraz Khan, Colin de Grandhomme, Pawan Negi, Chris Woakes, Umesh Yadav, Yuzvendra Chahal, Mohammed Siraj
IPL 2017 Position – Eighth place
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