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December 13 2018

Bangalore keen to Strengthen Up as they chase First IPL Title

- by Benny Thompson

Despite reaching the final in 2016, Royal Challengers Bangalore have endured two miserable seasons after that, finishing 6th and 8th respectively. Having not even made the playoffs in both seasons, RCB will be keen to set things right and will approach the upcoming auction in Jaipur with urgency.

Ahead of the auctions, they have released 10 players, most notably Brendon McCullum, Corey Anderson and Chris Woakes. Others include Sarfaraz Khan, Mandeep Singh, Aniket Choudhary, Anirudha Joshi, Murugan Ashwin, Manan Vohra, Pavan Deshpande.

The three foreigners will be crucial misses but Bangalore have to change things around to strengthen their squad. Holding on to their foreign players would mean they couldn’t have brought in more. They now have a salary cap of Rs 18.15 crores and can bring in 10 players which include 8 Indians and 2 foreigners.

Touted as a star in the making, Sarfaraz might still go on to excel elsewhere but he never lived up to expectations at RCB and needed to be released. Mandeep however was their third highest run scorer last season and his release is questionable even though they did bring in Marcus Stoinis to solidify their bowling department. Another move that has raised eyebrows is the trade of Quinton de Kock to Mumbai Indians. The wicketkeeper-batsman might not have done much for RCB last season but he is a valuable member in front of the wickets and behind it. His all around abilities will be missed.

But despite all the departures, RCB still have two of the best T20 batsmen in the world in Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers. They also have the likes of Colin de Grandhomme, Moeen Ali, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Tim Southee, Yuzvendra Chahal, Umesh Yadav, Mohammad Siraj, Parthiv Patel, Navdeep Saini, Kulwant Khejroliya, Pawan Negi and Washington Sundar. So a few astute signings could offset the gap causes by the departures.

Over the seasons, Bangalore’s main problem has been the fact that despite always possessing two or three world class T20 batsmen, their support cast has never lived up to expectations. So though there are matches where their stars blow the opposition away with their batting, their early departures often lead to a batting collapse.

That can be addressed by signing some supporting batsmen who can play down the order. Manoj Tiwary is high on every team’s wish list and RCB could be eyeing his signature too. Hanuma Vhari is another name that has been linked with them. Other interesting stars who are up for grabs in the auction are West Indies’ Shimron Hetmyer, England’s Joe Denly or South Africa’s Colin Ingram. Carlos Braithwaite can be expected to come up with late fireworks down the batting order and can chip in with crucial wickets as well.

Another area that needs to be strengthened is the pace attack. The death overs is a tricky area for RCB as they leak unnecessary runs that make life difficult. Daniel Christian and Keemo Paul are good fast bowling all rounders and both could grab wickets as well as add late runs for RCB.

Despite everything he does at the international level, Kohli seems to have no answers to end RCB’s title drought. The upcoming auctions in Jaipur would be a good place for the RCB think tank to start if they hope to change that fact in the 2019 season.

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