IPL 2021 RCB team preview: Challenges aplenty for Challengers

IPL 2021: RCB depended much too heavily on Virat Kohli and A. B. de Villiers. But to boost the middle and lower order, the team’s only notable signing this year was Maxwell.

RCB paid the price for depending much too heavily on Virat Kohli (left) and A. B. de Villiers last season.   -  Sportzpics / BCCI

After a fairly good start to the 2020 Indian Premier League (IPL) campaign, Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) skipper Virat Kohli and his teammates spoke of “good vibes” taking over the dressing room. This was the year that RCB would break its jinx and win a maiden IPL Trophy, the players believed.

It was not to be. The side did make it the playoffs — for the first time since 2016 — but exited in the Eliminator after losing to Sunrisers Hyderabad.

IPL 2021 KKR team preview: Can the Knights tell a new tale?

IPL 2021 Punjab Kings team preview: New name, renewed hope

IPL 2021 CSK team preview: Chennai Super Kings looks to roar again

IPL 2021 Rajasthan Royals team preview - Samson and Co. ready to rumble  

Once again, RCB paid the price for depending much too heavily on star batsmen Kohli and A. B. de Villiers. With little support from the middle and lower order, Kohli chose to curb his naturally aggressive style, going at a dormant tournament strike rate of 121.35. The likes of Aaron Finch, Shivam Dube and Chris Morris failed to deliver with the bat, leaving de Villiers and Kohli with too much on their plates.

Devdutt Padikkal impressed for RCB in 2020, scoring 473 runs with five fifties.   -  Sportzpics / BCCI

 

On the bowling front, Dale Steyn was nowhere close to his old menacing self, while Morris missed the first few fixtures due to an injury. An unimpressive Umesh Yadav was dropped after just two games.

At the IPL 2021 player auction, RCB did not sufficiently address these concerns. To boost the middle and lower order, the team’s only notable signing was Australian Glenn Maxwell. The other batsmen and all-rounders — Dan Christian, Sachin Baby, Rajat Patidar and Suyash Prabhudessai — do not count as proven match-winners. Even Maxwell, signed for ₹14.25 crore, has been inconsistent in the previous few IPL seasons.

RCB's Best buy of 2021

Pacer Kyle Jamieson counts as the most exciting auction signing for RCB. The Kiwi can bowl at great speed, and his 6’ 8” frame generates tremendous bounce. At ₹15 crore, Jamieson was RCB’s costliest auction deal. The 26-year-old is among the brightest fast bowling prospects in international cricket. Jamieson came into the spotlight in the 2019 Super Smash, when he picked up record figures of 6/7.

RCB also signed two uncapped wicketkeeper-batsmen in Mohammed Azharuddeen and K. S. Bharat. While Azharuddeen showed his hitting power with a 37-ball century for Kerala in the Syed Mushtaq Ali T20 Trophy, Bharat is known to be a dependable first-class cricketer. It remains to be seen how they handle the pressure of playing on the big stage.

KKR's Dinesh Karthik: Need to spend a little more time at the crease

Punjab Kings coach Kumble says he wanted to strengthen middle order

CSK's Robin Uthappa eyeing opener’s slot in IPL 2021  

RCB faces another concern — at the top of the order. Having released underperforming opener Finch, the side needed a replacement to partner the impressive Devdutt Padikkal. That role was expected to be taken by Josh Philippe, but the Australian wicketkeeper-batsman recently withdrew from the tournament citing personal reasons. Philippe was replaced by New Zealand cricketer Finn Allen, an inexperienced but talented hitter. RCB will likely go with Kohli as an opener — a move that the India captain himself suggested at the end of the T20 International series against England. If Kohli does indeed move up to an unfamiliar opening position, it only increases the pressure on the weak middle order. The tactic could turn out to be a hit-or-miss lottery.

Ideal Playing XI

Devdutt Padikkal, Finn Allen, A. B. de Villiers, Virat Kohli, Glenn Maxwell, Mohammed Azharuddeen, Kyle Jamieson, Washington Sundar, Mohammed Siraj, Navdeep Saini, Yuzvendra Chahal.