All the teams are gearing up for the IPL auction, which will take place on 19 December 2019 in Kolkata. Half of the work has been done: retention and liberation of players, and, now, the focus shifts on acquiring players to fill the voids. One team, which is under the spotlight for the same, is RCB. One thing that makes RCB’s strategy watchable is a revamp in their coaching and supporting staff this year. Simon Katich was appointed their head coach in August, while Mike Hesson as the Director of Cricket Operations.
In an interview, Hesson revealed that they will not just fill their squad with plenty of options. Instead, they will go for 18-20 players with specific roles. RCB, one of the top teams in the IPL a few years ago, had not received good returns in the last three years of the competition. Having failed to qualify for the playoffs since IPL 2017, they bagged two wooden spoons. The reforms have boosted the confidence of the RCB fans as they expect a good performance by the Red Army in the next season.
The Karnataka-based franchise has released twelve players, retaining only two foreigners: AB de Villiers and Moeen Ali. They have to fill as many as twelve spots and have the highest number of overseas slots (six) left. The Challengers have taken the correct calls, albeit a few decisions are debatable as well. RCB have to find two first-choice overseas players apart from de Villiers and Moeen Ali.
Since RCB can accommodate an ample number of overseas players in the squad, we take a look at overseas players, for whom they should bid in the auction.
RCB have struggled to find a suitable opening pair after IPL 2016, in which Virat Kohli had a dream run as an opener. Currently, Parthiv Patel is their settled opener who has been doing his job decently i.e. giving quick starts in the powerplay. Although, the captain Kohli enjoyed opening in 2016, one down is the most suitable position for him.
They might try Devdutt Padikkal as their second opening batsman in the upcoming edition. The southpaw had a good time in the Karnataka Premier League, a great Vijay Hazare season, and was in the sublime touch in the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy. He finished all the mentioned tourneys as the leading run-scorer. However, the 19-year-old young talent might find it difficult to crack the biggest T20 league, at least now. Thus, the team must be ready with solid options.
Aaron Finch, arguably the best opener in the international T20 cricket currently, has failed to perform in the IPL so far. The right-handed batsman who has represented seven teams across nine IPL seasons (2010-18) has ordinary numbers. However, Finch is a tempting option to go for. Among all the openers who have played at least thirty T20Is, Finch has the second-best average (36.73) and the second-best strike rate (155.25) as well.
The 33-year-old is an outrageous power-hitter of pace bowling and can also whack spinners once set. Finch along with Parthiv can form a good opening pair, capable to utilize the powerplay very well. He plays big shots from the beginning of the inning and does not take much time to settle.
Besides being an excellent batsman in the shortest batsman, the Victoria-born might be a good asset in the leadership group too. The current RCB captain Virat Kohli requires help on the field at times, and Australia’s white-ball skipper who is a good captain tactically can help Kohli. Thus, RCB should go for Aaron Finch in the auction.
Lack of a solid middle-order has been a perennial problem of RCB. Kohli and ABD have had the major share of responsibility to score runs, and their failures have often pushed RCB into troubled waters. Moeen Ali impressed in IPL 2019, and now, they need to find a partner in the middle-order for the southpaw. Since the pitch at Chinnaswamy has been on the slower side (a bit) recently, they should go for batters who can play spin well.
We have mentioned two players for this role, considering RCB should go for one of the two choices.
The World Cup-winning captain, Eoin Morgan is an excellent batsman in the shortest format. Very much like Finch, Morgan is yet another overseas batsman who has failed to prove his mettle in the cash-rich T20 league. However, Morgan is worth giving another go. His excellent gameplay against spinners and ability to score at a very quick rate make him a good prospect for RCB.
Among all the middle-order batsmen (4-7) in T20Is, the left-handed batsman is the second-highest run-scorer with most 50+ scores. The 33-year-old has been in brilliant form this year, accumulating 268 runs with an average of over 44 in nine international T20s. Among all the batsmen who have scored at least 250 runs in T20Is this year, the Englishman has the best strike rate – of about 173. The World Cup-winning captain is an excellent leader with a calm head. Thus, Morgan can also be a valuable asset in the leadership group of RCB.
Glenn Maxwell is yet another player in this article, who could not manage to live up to the expectations in the Indian Premier League. Maxwell has come up with mixed returns and failed to set the stage on fire consistently. The 31-year-old is an exciting player in the shortest format and had attracted high bids in the IPL in the past.
The right-handed batsman is an impact player and can turn the match in his team’s favour in a very short time. Yes, sometimes he gets out in frustrating ways, but that’s how Maxi is. Albeit he has played sensibly in recent times. Maxwell is also a part-time off-spinner and can roll over his arm if required. It would not be a bad call by RCB if they recruit him.
In a discussion show (Game Plan Programme) on Star Sports, Mike Hesson picked Maxwell in his squad for the T20 World Cup 2020. So, do not be surprised if RCB bid for the Aussie in the auction.
The Challengers have released Marcus Stoinis and Colin de Grandhomme from their squad, and now, they don’t have any reliable all-rounder apart from Moeen Ali. RCB have Shivam Dube, Washington Sundar and Pawan Negi in their squad, but their secondary skill-set (other from their primary role) are not trustworthy enough. RCB need a finisher who can bowl as well. Thus, they need to get an overseas all-rounder in the auction due to the lack of Indian options.
Chris Morris was one of the best all-rounders in the world in T20 cricket, at one point of the time. But the South African has not been at his best for a while. Morris was retained by Delhi Capitals before IPL 2018, but two poor seasons have resulted in his exclusion. It is expected that DC will look to get him back at a lower price, but RCB too should go for him.
Since 2018, the 32-year-old has a batting strike rate over 144, picking 57 wickets in 45 matches. Even in IPL 2019, Morris was good with the ball, but his poor batting form did not help his cause. The bowling all-rounder is currently playing Mzansi Super League and has been good so far. At his best, Morris is a good death bowler and can contribute decently with the willow in the lower-middle-order.
One of the biggest reasons behind RCB’s failure is the lack of good death bowlers. Their bowlers conceded too many runs in the death overs on multiple occasions, which eventually cost them matches at times. Even in the current squad, they do not have any death bowler apart from Navdeep Saini, and even he is not fully ready yet. Thus, buying a gun death bowler will be their top priority in the auction. It might be a hard task for them, as not many options are available for that role.
Since Mitchell Starc has opted out of IPL 2020, RCB should go for Patrick Cummins. T20 is neither his best format nor he is as effective as Starc in the death overs but Cummins is the better among a lot. Cummins is as good as anyone with the new ball and it’s not easy to hit him. He provides early breakthroughs to his team, which sets the tone for other bowlers. The right-arm pacer can clock over 145 kph and can succeed in the death overs by hitting hard lengths.
Cummins does not play much T20 cricket around the globe, as he is Australia’s main man in all the formats now, and due to injury issues earlier. He has featured in three seasons of the IPL with only 16 matches under his belt. Representing Delhi Daredevils (Capitals, now) in 2017, Cummins scalped 15 wickets with an economy of around eight. With T20 World Cup coming up in 2020, Cummins too would want to play IPL as this league boasts of having the best competition.
Besides buying the first-choice players, RCB will look to accommodate back-up options in their squad. The reserve players can come in the playing XI, in case of any injury or if any player remains in poor form for a long time.
We have mentioned three overseas players for different roles whom RCB should buy as a back-up option.
RCB have only one wicketkeeper-batsman – Parthiv Patel in their current squad. Thus, they will have to buy another wicketkeeper-batsman in the auction. Among Indians, not many wicket-keepers are available, So, most likely, the second gloveman will be an overseas player. Among overseas wicketkeepers, Alex Carey is probably the best option available.
Carey is an opener in the shortest format; however, he plays as a finisher in the Australian team. So, Carey is a flexible option who can open and bat in the middle-order as well. The southpaw who plays for Adelaide Strikers in the Big Bash League has been best batsman for his team since 2017, amassing 772 runs. Carey was also the second-highest run-scorer in the BBL 2017 and contributed heavily for his team, who eventually became the champions in that edition.
Unlike many other foreign players, the 28-year-old is a good player of spin. Carey was very imposing in the World Cup 2019, especially in the semi-final against England, where he displayed his determination. It is expected that Carey won’t receive a huge bid in the auction, thus, RCB should go for him.
Ashton Turner was recruited by Rajasthan Royals in the last IPL season, but he failed to create any impact. And, hence has been released by the franchise. Turner is an attacking middle-order batsman, equipped with the finishing skills as well. Turner is one of the best middle-order batters in Australia’s domestic circuit and is in their plans for the T20 World Cup 2020.
The right-handed batsman is also a BBL commodity, who has been good for his team – Perth Scorchers in the last few years. Since BBL 2017, Turner has accumulated 630 runs with an average of 31.50 and an excellent strike rate of over 143. The 26-year-old is an expert while chasing the targets in BBL and can be useful for the Kohli-led side. RCB have crumbled while chasing many times in the past, and someone like Turner can be a good addition in their squad.
Surprised to see this name? Yes, many people might get surprised to see this name, and many people would be even unaware of this name. Ali Khan is a Pakistan-born pacer who moved to the USA at the age of 18 with his parents. He also played a One-Day International for the USA against Papua New Guinea this year.
Khan is a right-arm fast-medium bowler who can bowl at a speed of 135 kph. The thing which makes him a good prospect is that he can swing the new ball and the old as well. The 28-year-old can nail the Yorkers at the will, which is also the best part about him. There are not many bowlers in the world who can bowl Yorkers consistently, but Ali can do that job, given his excellent control.
Ali Khan was first recruited by Guyana Amazon Warriors in the Caribbean Premier League and was later acquired by Trinbago Knight Riders. In the CPL which is the third-best T20 league in the world (according to CricViz), he has been mighty impressive. Playing for TKR in the league, Khan snared 26 scalps in 22 matches with an economy of around eight. In CPL 2018, he was the third-most successful bowler with sixteen wickets to his name.
He might not come up with the same returns in the best T20 league, but RCB should definitely consider him.