Drained by the Yuvi bid

Blue chip… Yuvraj Singh, the most expensive player at the auction, will add to the batting firepower of Royal Challengers.-K. BHAGYA PRAKASH

Royal Challengers Bangalore made the biggest outlay on any one player at the auction, purchasing Yuvraj Singh for Rs. 14 crore. Having retained Chris Gayle, Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers, RCB now boasts the sort of batting firepower bowlers will shudder to face. Parthiv Patel, a useful batsman, could open alongside Gayle. A middle order of Kohli, de Villiers and Yuvraj is the stuff fantasy teams are made of. Albie Morkel can be a powerful lower-order hitter, the sort RCB has lacked since its inception. The young Australian batsman Nic Maddinson, given a chance, could surprise a few people.

But the bloated price at which Yuvraj came left RCB with a very small purse. It told on the sort of bowlers the team could bid for and acquire at the auction. Although Mitchell Starc is a fine prospect and Ravi Rampaul did reasonably well last season, they cannot be relied on to send down four watertight overs, game after game. It is the sort of safety teams like Sunrisers Hyderabad and Kolkata Knight Riders are guaranteed in Dale Steyn and Sunil Narine.

Unable to hunt for established Indian bowlers, RCB had to settle for the likes of Varun Aaron and Ashoke Dinda. Aaron’s injury history makes for unpleasant reading while Dinda — an earnest, hard-working bowler, no doubt — finished with an economy rate of 9.48 runs per over last season. Harshal Patel, whom RCB used its Right-to-Match (RTM) card on, and Abu Nechim Ahmed also offer pace-bowling options.

Daniel Vettori, who will coach the side this season, revealed that RCB had been particular about buying Patel back. But the team could have done with a spinner of Vettori’s calibre. Muttiah Muralitharan, who took eight wickets at 19.62 for Melbourne Renegades in the Big Bash League, is the only big-name spinner; and he is 41 and foreign. Shadab Jakati and Yuzvendra Chahal will have to step up if they are to prove useful. Much will rest on Yuvraj.

One striking aspect of this RCB side is the absence of any players from Karnataka — this in a season when the state emphatically won the Ranji Trophy. In contrast, Kings XI Punjab retained, re-purchased or acquired five players from Punjab.

It raises questions about team identity and RCB’s seriousness — for all its campaigns on social media — about building a bond with its fans.

THE TEAM

Players retained: Chris Gayle, AB de Villiers, Virat Kohli.

Players bought: Yuvraj Singh (Rs. 14 crore), Mitchell Starc (5), Albie Morkel (2.4), Varun Aaron (2), Ashoke Dinda (1.5), Parthiv Patel (1.4), Muttiah Muralitharan (1), Ravi Rampaul (Rs. 90 lakh), Nic Maddinson (50), Harshal Patel (40, RTM), Vijay Zol (30), Abu Nechim Ahmed (30), Shadab Jakati (20), Sachin Rana (20), Sandeep Warrier (10), Yogesh Takawale (10), Yuzvendra Chahal (10).

Shreedutta Chidananda