RCB in past have always boasted of a team consisting of superstar players, primarily in batting. Despite all the firepower, they haven’t managed to win an IPL trophy. Not only they haven’t managed to win a trophy, they have also failed to enter the playoffs in past 3 seasons. With the start of a fresh decade and the inclusion of some fresh faces both in batting and bowling, the team and their loyal fans would hope to turn things around this season but for that, they will require the perfect balance in the 11. Here is what their playing XI might look like in the first game of IPL.
What Aaron Finch brings to any batting lineup needs no reckoning. He is a new signing and RCB team management was absolutely delighted to have him in the team. Finch can bat both in the top and the middle order but with RCB already having two of the world’s best middle order players, his job will be to open and play his natural game. With his opening partner Parthiv having limited range in shot making, Finch will have to take the onus of majority of run scoring in the beginning. He also brings leadership qualities to the team and can assist Kohli with his valuable inputs here and there.
If Finch fails to deliver, Parthiv Patel can open allowing Moeen Ali to bat at 5.
Devdutt Paddikal, the poster boy of Karnataka cricket will hold the responsibility of being the second opener alongside Aaron Finch. He has a strong game against spin which was shown in last year’s Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy where he amassed 580 runs in 12 matches at an average of 64 and strike rate of 175. The southpaw can also bat in the middle order if needed but with the current dynamics of RCB, he will be most suitable at the top of the order.
Virat Kohli (captain)
At no. 3, you don’t need to look for someone else when you’ve world’s greatest number 3 batsman in your team. Captain Virat Kohli who has opened in last few seasons and has gone on to produce fine results only, will shift back to his favourite batting position. For some reasons, Virat hasn’t been able to produce top results for RCB which he does for Indian T20 team since 2016. Lack of aggressors at top and in middle order has always put extra pressure on him but this season, with Finch getting that role on top and a batsman like AB De villiers to follow, Kohli would love this suitable role and he would like to play like how a Kohli bats at 3 wearing blue jersey.
However, this is only how RCB would be starting. Kohli might still move to opening if they decide to play an overseas middle order batsman instead of Finch going forward in the season.
AB De Villiers (wicket keeper)
AB De villiers will be strengthening the middle order with his presence which would make sure top order can express themselves freely. He has played some incredible knocks for RCB in past few seasons and has been their biggest match winner with bat since 2017. With a slight change in role which will put him in his comfort zone, he would feel less burdened this time. Despite the retirement from International cricket, he has shown no signs of rust as he keeps amassing the runs in different T20 competitions. For AB, class and form both are permanent. He will also have the wicket keeping responsibilities this season which means Parthiv doesn’t necessarily have to play.
Gurkeerat Singh Mann
RCB did have a decent auction but they missed out on adding some Indian batsmen who can bat in middle or lower middle order which leaves Gurkeerat Mann Singh as the only good option who can bat at 5. Notwithstanding the fact that Gurkeerat played only 3 matches for RCB last year, his performance in the season ender at exactly this position must give management a lot of confidence to start with him at 5. He came to bat at 20-3 and stitched a partnership with Hetmyer to chase the total of 178 runs set by SRH. On slow surfaces, he can roll his arm with ball too.
Shivam Dube made his IPL debut for RCB and had a horrendous season last year with only 40 runs in 4 matches he played for them. RCB, a team which is not known for showing too much faith in players has gone on to retain him for another season which makes it important for Dube to start afresh and start well. Dube in the last two T20I series for India has done decently with both ball and bat even though he is still a work in progress and RCB can’t completely rely on him for a strong finish. Fair to say the middle order completely revolves around AB.
Their most expensive signing in this auction, Chris Morris will be batting his way at 7 and will have the responsibility of bowling at death which has been a headache for the team over the years. Morris hasn’t had a great IPL record off late but given his recent form in MSL and the lack of too many options in the auction, RCB decided to bid boldly for him. Morris will play most of the matches as one of their front line overseas fast bowlers given his ability to bowl at various stages of the inning even though Kohli will use his overs like he manages the overs of Bumrah for India.
Washington Sundar adds variety to the attack with his off spin bowling. He is another bowler who can be used at various stages of innings but unlike Morris, his 2-3 overs will be used with the new ball which is his forte as well. It will also help the captain in saving the overs of Morris and other fast bowlers for later stage of the inning. His batting skills too will come in handy, especially in some tight chases.
Dale Steyn was an injury replacement for Nathan Coulter-Nile previous year and even though he could only play a couple of matches before getting injured, he did a fine job for RCB last season. They bought him back in the Auction and would surely play him in the first XI. He can be vulnerable at death with not too many options in his kitty but with the new ball, he still finds good shape which was seen in couple of games last year. He will have a job of picking early wickets or at least check the run flow during powerplay.
Right hand fast bowler Navdeep Saini was the find of the season for RCB where he picked up 11 wickets and impressed one & all with his bowling. Surely, RCB fans wouldn’t have forgotten the first five balls of the 19th over he bowled to MS Dhoni which led to a famous win for them against CSK in an otherwise gloomy season. Saini would be preferred over Umesh to partner Morris at death although his death bowling is understandably not perfect and he still has plenty to learn but he is surely better than Umesh in that aspect.
That leaves us to the last player to talk about who picks himself in playing 11 on all the given days. Being the leading spinner and the best bowler of the team, Yuzvendra Chahal is an obvious selection. Chahal is a multi dimensional bowler who gives his captain an option of using his overs at any stage of the inning. He can bowl in powerplays, in middle overs and even at death. Despite the addition of some bowling options, the attacking leggie will have to play a vital role with ball yet again where his overs will majorly be used as an attacking option. Chahal is someone who is well capable of breaking partnerships and thus plays a massive factor in how RCB bowling attack shapes up. Chahal has not yet been hit for a boundary in UAE in IPL matches and that is an impressive record for sure.