RCB is one of the biggest brands and attractions of the IPL, immensely popular because of being led by a host of international batting stars throughout the 13 year long history of the tournament, chief of whom are International Cricket’s most famous duo, Virat Kohli and Abraham Benjamin De Villiers.
RCB has traditionally been one of the strongest batting teams of the IPL, leading records for most centuries , most sixes , highest total in IPL history amongst others but yet this much loved and vaunted team has never ever had the opportunity of winning the IPL even once in history, a streak that RCB will looking to rectify in 2021.
RCB had an overall successful season in 2020, making it to the playoffs for the first time since 2016 but the season ultimately failed to deceive. RCB had an unusually impressive start to the season, topping the table at the midway stage before losing 4 out of their last 4 league matches, barely scraping through in fourth to the eliminator game and crashing out of the tournament , having lost 5 out of the last 5.
RCB heavily paid the prices for having depended heavily on their talisman AB De Villiers to provide with the bat , as the team’s slow and inconsistent batting approach weighed the total that they could set on multiple occasions.
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.
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.
RCB sought to bolster both their batting and bowling options at the 2021 IPL auctions but the verdict is still out on whether RCB actually managed to have a successful auction.
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 a whopping ₹14.25 crore, has been inconsistent in the previous few IPL seasons, notably struggling to score even a single six for Punjab in the last season
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.
RCB’s Best Buy of 2021 was undoubtedly pacer Kyle Jamieson. 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 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.
Washington Sundar will look to be a new star for RCB this season, fresh from his amazing all round exploits from down under and the England test series, all eyes will be on how he comes through for this season.
Dan Christian will be a key player for RCB this year. The Australian all-rounder will return to IPL with RCB this year. Dan has been a handy all-rounder who possesses hard-hitting skills along with scalping wickets at crunch situations.
In terms of bowling , RCB will depend a good deal on their Indian trio of Mohammad Siraj, Navdeep Saini and Yuzvendra Chahal.
Siraj will be one of the crucial cogs in Virat Kohli’s arsenal. He had a decent outing in IPL 2020, where he scalped 11 wickets in 9 matches. He then proved his mettle against Australia and England in the Test series and now is ready to roar in IPL 2021.
Saini has always been a positive factor of the RCB unit. He can control the run flow along with scalping wickets at regular interval. His presence completes the line-up with a lethal pace attack.
RCB kick off their season with a match against the reigning, defending and undisputed champions of the IPL, Mumbai Indians, in a marquee fixture which is usually one of the most looked forward to matches in the league. They will face a daunting but rewarding challenge of dethroning MI in the first game to get the ball rolling in their quest for their first ever IPL title.
Predicted XI – Virat Kohli (C), Devdutt Padikkal, Rajat Patidar / Mohammed Azharuddeen, AB de Villiers, Glenn Maxwell, Washington Sundar, Daniel Christian, Kyle Jamieson, Mohammed Siraj, Yuzvendra Chahal, Navdeep Saini.
Squad: Virat Kohli (c), AB de Villiers, Devdutt Padikkal, Yuzvendra Chahal, Mohammed Siraj, Kane Richardson, Washington Sundar, Pavan Deshpande, Finn Allen, Shahbaz Ahamad, Navdeep Saini, Adam Zampa, Kyle Jamieson, Glenn Maxwell, Rajat Patidar, Sachin Baby, Mohammed Azharuddeen, Daniel Christian, KS Bharat, Suyash Prabhudessai, Daniel Sams, Harshal Patel.