The Royal Challengers Bangalore will have some new faces as they resume their IPL season in the UAE.
The Royal Challengers Bangalore are still searching for that title-winning combination as Virat Kohli and Co. eye a first IPL trophy in the franchise’s history. Despite having some of the biggest names in their roster, RCB haven’t been able to get over the line in their last thirteen attempts.
Last year, as the tournament shifted to the UAE, it resulted in a change of fortunes for the Challengers; they won eight of their opening 10 league encounters and were one of the first teams to seal their spot for the Playoffs. But five defeats on the bounce following that, including getting dumped out in the Eliminator match, ended their hopes for a title once again.
As has been the case since the IPL’s inception, RCB always go big in the auction, and in the 2021 mini-auction too they went pretty big, acquiring the services of Kiwi speedster Kyle Jamieson for INR 15 crore and Australian all-rounder Glenn Maxwell for INR 14.25 crore. So far, both have been brilliant additions and certainly add quality to the group.
Moreover, there were six other squad-filler additions: Dan Christian, Sachin Baby, Rajat Patidar, Mohammed Azharuddeen, Suyash Prabhudesai and Kona Srikar Bharat. Most of these signings seem to have paid off as the team managed to win five of their seven matches during the first leg in India.
Virat Kohli (C), AB de Villiers, Yuzvendra Chahal, Devdutt Padikkal, Harshal Patel, Mohammed Siraj, Navdeep Saini, Shahbaz Ahmed, Pavan Deshpande, Glenn Maxwell, Sachin Baby, Rajat Patidar, Mohammed Azharuddeen, Kyle Jamieson, Dan Christian, Suyesh Prabhudesai, KS Bharat, Tim David, Dushmantha Chameera, Wanindu Hasaranga, Akash Deep.
So, without further ado, let’s look at the SWOT Analysis for the Royal Challengers Bangalore.
For RCB, their batting lineup is their biggest strength. A top four of Virat Kohli, Devdutt Padikkal, AB de Villiers and Glenn Maxwell is as ruthless and fearsome as it can get for any opposition bowling unit. And it goes without saying that these four were the highest run-getters from the RCB camp during the first leg.
Surprisingly, it’s Glenn Maxwell (223 runs) who’s the leading run-getter with a strike rate of 142. Following him are AB de Villiers with 207 runs, Virat Kohli with 198 runs and Devdutt Padikkal with 195 runs. Furthermore, the young domestic quartet of Pavan Deshpande, Sachin Baby, Rajat Patidar and Mohammed Azharuddeen are also going to benefit from the top four firing on all cylinders.
RCB’s Achilles’ heel has always been their bowling. While their inexperienced trio of Mohammed Siraj, Navdeep Saini and Kyle Jamieson were able to put in some decent performances here and there, the lack of skillset required for death bowling was quite evident as they struggled to restrict opposition sloggers at the death.
Harshal Patel, the man with 17 wickets from the first seven games, has been Kohli’s go-to death bowler this season and has taken important wickets at the death, albeit at the expense of leaking a bucket load of runs. In Chennai’s slow and dusty pitches, Harshal Patel’s change-up deliveries and variations were almost unplayable, but as soon as they moved to Mumbai, the floodgates opened for opposition batters as he was taken to the cleaners.
Although the Indian T20 World Cup squad has been finalised, with half of the IPL season yet to be completed, there could be unfortunate injuries and last-minute pullouts. Hence, the likes of Devdutt Padikkal, Mohamed Siraj and Navdeep Saini all stand a chance to make the reserves list or even the provisional squad.
Padikkal, in particular, has been impressive since the 2020 IPL, and if the second leg of the 2021 IPL does not get him selected for this instalment of the T20 World Cup, it will at least improve his chances to make the Indian squad for the New Zealand series.
Siraj, on the other hand, has been Kohli’s go-to guy in red-ball cricket and if he can graft his T20 bowling skills, there is no reason why he can’t be a part of the white-ball setup.
Over the years, the RCB management has been putting all the eggs in one or two baskets. While one or two world-class players can win you matches, it takes a team to win a title. Although they tried to address this issue during the 2021 mini-auction, by spending almost INR 30 crore on two players, they’ve barely scratched the surface. Moreover, if any one of their top four suffers a drop in form or gets injured, the team don’t have sufficient cover for them.
It is also possible that given the mega-auction is set to take place next year, RCB have thus only prioritised strengthening their playing XI rather than the squad. Yet, the fact that their middle order lacks steel and depth, their death bowlers aren’t death bowlers, and Yuzvendra Chahal is going through a dry spell has all the ingredients of a repeat of last season’s abrupt end to the season.