The Royal Challengers Bangalore have put up a good fight in a few editions of the IPL – they have reached the final three times but have failed to cross the last hurdle. RCB are yet to win a title in 14 editions of the tournament, but with a new captain and a largely revamped side, the Men in Red will hope that their trophy drought comes to an end in 2022.
Contrary to most teams that retained four players ahead of the mega auction, RCB retained three - Virat Kohli (Rs 15 crore), Glenn Maxwell (Rs 11 crore) and Mohammed Siraj (Rs 7 crore). Meanwhile, they also made some surprise releases in the likes of Devdutt Padikkal and Yuzvendra Chahal.
Coming into the auction, the franchise signed some big names - Australian pacer Josh Hazlewood, South African batter Faf du Plessis, Sri Lanka all-rounder Wanindu Hasaranga and West Indies batsman Sherfane Rutherford among others. Du Plessis has also been named the captain of the side after Kohli decided to relinquish captaincy.
Virat Kohli, Glenn Maxwell, Mohammad Siraj, Faf du Plessis, Harshal Patel, Wanindu Hasaranga, Dinesh Karthik, Josh Hazlewood, Shahbaz Ahmed, Anuj Rawat, Akash Deep, Mahipal Lomror, Finn Allen, Sherfane Rutherford, Jason Behrendorff, Suyash Prabhudessai, Chama Milind, Aneeshwar Gautam, Luvnith Sisodia, David Willey
Now that Virat Kohli will not have the added responsibility of captaincy on his shoulders, RCB can expect him to play a bit more freely. The IPL will present Kohli the opportunity to overcome his lean patch ahead of the T20 World Cup later this year. If Kohli gets going, like he did in 2016 (973 runs from 16 matches at an average of 81.08 and a strike rate of 152.03), there will be no stopping him.
RCB’s acquisition of Faf du Plessis was a brilliant move. The South African batsman played a big role in both of CSK’s title wins in 2018 and 2021. It will be interesting to see who comes out with du Plessis to open the innings. It will be either Virat Kohli, unless he decides to bat at number 3, or the uncapped Anuj Rawat, on whom the side spent Rs 3.4 crore.
RCB’s pace attack also looks pretty strong on paper, and they should be able to overcome their problem of leaking runs in the death overs this time around. In Mohammed Siraj, Josh Hazlewood and Harshal Patel, the team has three quality fast bowlers who can give batsmen a run for money. Siraj and Hazlewood are established international bowlers, while Patel was the highest wicket-taker of IPL 2021. For backup, they also have Jason Behrendorrf, Siddharth Kaul and David Willey.
They also have an able all-rounder in Glenn Maxwell, but we have seen in the past that the Australian can disappoint just as much as he can surprise.
RCB have too many question marks at the moment. What if Kohli does not return to form? What if Maxwell fails to get going? Given that their ever-best Ab de Villiers has retired from the game, most of the responsibility of hitting shots at all corners of the ground will lie on Maxwell. Similar questions arise about Dinesh Karthik, who has been largely inconsistent in the IPL over the last couple of years and was subsequently released by the Knight Riders. If the former KKR skipper fails to perform at no. 5, the burden on Kohli, du Plessis and Maxwell will further increase. The team’s middle order looks a little unreliable, and that could be a concern for them in the tournament. The likes of Mahipal Lomror and Luvnith Sisodia do not bring much experience to the table. Additionally, the spin department seems to be a bit too dependent on Hasaranga.
Predicted playing XI – Virat Kohli, Faf du Plessis ( c ), Mahipal Lomror, Glenn Maxwell, Wanindu Hasaranga, Dinesh Karthik (wk), Shahbaz Ahmed, Harshal Patel, Josh Hazlewood, Mohammed Siraj and Karn Sharma.