If IPL trophies were to be decided based on a team's appearance on paper, Royal Challengers Bangalore would have probably pipped Mumbai Indians to be the record holder. Each year, RCB, with captain Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers at the helm, delivers immense promise with a daunting lineup on paper. But somehow they lose their way as the season unravels.
2021, so far, has started much on the same lines. After letting go of a few top names, they managed to rope in big-name players in Glenn Maxwell, Kyle Jamieson and added to their batting depth to take the pressure off Kohli and De Villiers. Notably, the franchise will have the option of maintaining a left-right combination in the batting line-up. On the bowling front, RCB lack potent death-bowling options although the squad comprises multiple new-ball bowlers.
The addition of Jamieson and fellow all-rounder Dan Christian offers RCB a batting depth up to No.8. Only Rajasthan Royals, with the addition of Chris Morris, can boast of such a feature heading into the 14th season.
Besides, the lineup can feature as many as three left-handed batters if Sachin Baby is added as an Indian top-order option, besides certainties - Devdutt Padikkal and Washington Sundar.
VIRAT KOHLI TO OPEN
To understand the role of an opener and in a bid to fit in a player like Suryakumar Yadav in India's T20I lineup, Kohli revealed that he would open for RCB in the impending season. Kohli previously opened for RCB on 18 occasions, scoring 595 runs at 37.2 with a strike rate of 142.3 with three centuries and a dot ball percentage of 29.4. And given his prowess as an anchor, arguably the best in T20 cricket, the subsequent batters can play freely before Kohli begins to fire in the death overs where he averages 243.2 since 2018.
However, Kohli's scoring rate in the middle overs remains a concern. Between overs 7 and 16, Kohli has an IPL strike rate of 127.3, and 116.3 since 2018 with a boundary rate of 11.16. Among the 40 batters who have at least faced 200 deliveries in the middle overs in the last three IPL seasons, Kohli's strike rate is among the worst and his boundary frequency is only better than MS Dhoni. RCB will hence depend on the middle-order lineup to take charge in those overs.
WHO ARE THE DEATH-OVER OPTIONS?
|PowerPlay||Middle Overs||Death overs|
|Type||Variety||Bowler||Economy Rate||Strike Rate||Economy Rate||Strike Rate||Economy Rate||Strike Rate|
|Spinner||Slow left-arm orthodox||Shahbaz Ahmed||12||Nil||8.08||19.5||12.5||12|
|Pacer||Right-arm medium fast||Dan Christian||9.61||27.2||8.09||19.9||10.28||14.6|
|Pacer||Right-arm medium fast||Kyle Jamieson||7.86||16.7||7.94||9.9||9.75||8.9|
|Pacer||Right-arm fast||Navdeep Saini||7.76||41||7.97||174||9.59||14.2|
|Pacer||Right-arm medium fast||Mohammed Siraj||8.46||17.3||8.18||34||10.48||13.8|
|Pacer||Right-arm medium fast||Harshal Patel||9.44||27||9.4||24||8.92||9.8|
|Pacer||Right-arm medium fast||Kane Richardson||6.37||25.9||9.39||16.7||9.03||9|
|Pacer||Left-arm medium fast||Daniel Sams||7.8||21.2||7.9||22.6||10.21||8.2|
Seven out of RCB's 11 bowling options (barring all-rounder Rajat Patidar) are new-ball bowlers with a T20 economy rate of below 8 in the PowerPlay since 2018 with Chahal and Kane Richardson standing out of the lot with their impressive strike rates as well, followed by Jamieson. Six of those 11 concede less than 8 in the middle overs with Washington Sundar and Chahal having impressive strike rates as well. Jamieson's strike rate of almost 10 is the best among RCB's options. In the death overs, Harshal Patel could be a potent option, especially on pitches like Chennai and Ahmedabad. Richardson, Jamieson, and Saini too have impressive numbers.
RCB can hence rely on Chahal, Sundar, and Jamieson to operate through the PowerPlay before Dan Christian or Harshal makes his way in for the middle overs. Jamieson and Saini for the death overs along with Harshal, if picked.
PREDICTED PLAYING XI
Kohli, Padikkal, Baby/Mohammed Azharudden, Maxwell, De Villiers, Sundar, Christian/Harshal, Jamieson, Saini, Siraj and Chahal.
If Harshal is picked over Christian, then either RCB can take Finn Allen as their No.3 option in the batting lineup or Zampa can be brought in as an additional spinner, replacing Siraj.