Royal Challengers Bangalore have published their retentions and releases for the upcoming IPL season. Multiple factors have influenced the retention strategy this time. There’s been a cloud of uncertainty with regard to player availability due to the ICC 2019 World Cup starting early June. Many cricketing boards are apprehensive of their players playing the IPL this upcoming season fearing injuries and burnouts. Cricket Australia has come out and cleared the air about Australian players’ availability stating the World Cup-bound players shall play no franchise cricket after 1st of May 2019. A similar stance from other cricket boards including BCCI is expected in the coming days. There are also question marks over the hosting of IPL in India with the federal elections dates likely to clash with proposed IPL dates and hence the IPL being moved to UAE or South Africa is also a possibility. Franchise owners are expecting a clearer picture of schedule and venues soon. The player auction is set to take place in mid-December at Goa.
Virat Kohli, AB de Villiers, Parthiv Patel, Washington Sundar, Pawan Negi, Moeen Ali, Colin de Grandhomme, Yuzvendra Chahal, Mohammed Siraj, Tim Southee, Umesh Yadav, Navdeep Saini, Kulwant Khejroliya, Nathan Coulter-Nile
While Kohli, de Villiers, and Chahal form the core of RCB having been at the club for past 5 seasons at the least, RCB have also invested in local young talent. While Negi, Siraj, Saini, and Sundar are on the brink of breaking into Indian national teams, experienced pros Parthiv Patel and Umesh Yadav have earned recalls owing to their performances in IPL and domestic cricket in the past year. Moeen Ali, Southee, de Grandhomme have continued their good form for their respective national sides with impactful performances.
The form of Umesh Yadav with the new ball was a big positive for RCB in IPL 2018. He bowled feisty spells, often hitting 145+ and swinging the ball late. Yadav finished the season 4th on the list of highest wicket takers with 20 scalps. RCB’s struggles with death bowling continued as they had the worst economy rate among all teams. Only in the latter stages of the tournament did we see some sort of hope with Tim Southee nailing Yorkers after his comeback from injury and Mo Siraj also getting better at the death. These two will probably be given the duties this season as well.
Moeen Ali gave a glimpse of what he’s capable of with an innings of 65 off 34 balls in the penultimate game of the season against Sunrisers Hyderabad. Even though Moeen is a handy off-spinner, RCB will hope Moeen comes good with the bat in that brittle middle order taking some load off the shoulders of Virat and ABD.
Brendon McCullum, Chris Woakes, Corey Anderson, Sarfraz Khan, Aniket Choudhary, Manan Vohra, Murugan Ashwin, Aniruddha Joshi, Pavan Deshpande
Without a doubt, Brendon McCullum is an IPL legend. Having retired from international cricket in 2016, he’s well past his prime. Baz in IPL 2018 was a shadow of his former self and couldn’t get going the way we’re used to seeing him. RCB tried him at multiple positions in the batting order but he didn’t look menacing enough in any of those. In all, he could only get 6 games, scored 127 runs averaging 21 and striking at 144. Those are decent numbers but with only 4 overseas slots in the XI, you’d expect more from an international star.
Corey Anderson wished the IPL 2018 never happened. He had a disastrous outing in his debut season for RCB. Signed as a late replacement for the injured Coulter-Nile, Anderson misfired with both bat and ball. RCB trusted him with death bowling duties, which admittedly isn’t his forte, and he returned economy rate of 13.26 in the 3 games he bowled. His batting was no better with an average of 5.40 and a S/R of 77. It would’ve taken him a string of miraculous performances for New Zealand to have any chance of convincing RCB to retain him and sadly that didn’t happen.
While Sarfaraz and Vohra found it tough to break into the XI, they didn’t capitalize on the chances when they did. Vohra averaged 13.75 and Sarfaraz 10.20. With the top order pretty much settled, Vohra was always going to be overlooked.
M Ashwin got only 2 games while A Joshi and P Deshpande got none. It was actually surprising to see Bengaluru local boys Joshi or Deshpande not getting a go while the likes of Sarfaraz played 7 games. Not having enough players with local knowledge at Chinnaswamy has cost RCB dearly in the past with the likes of Karun Nair, Shreyas Gopal representing away teams at Chinnaswamy and delivering match-winning performances.
Apart from death bowling, another area of concern for RCB last season was the all rounder’s slot. RCB spent a fortune on Chris Woakes but the Englishman didn’t live up to his billing. Although he did pick up 8 wickets in his 5 outings, an economy rate of 10.36 meant Kohli couldn’t always turn to his overseas star when other bowlers went for runs. Picked up as an all-rounder, he disappointed with the bat as well scoring just 17 runs in 4 innings with a highest score of 11. Even as Colin de Grandhomme did his bit after replacing Woakes in the latter stages of the tournament, he struggled to finish off games (like the one against Sunrisers Hyderabad). Marcus Stoinis is a proven all-rounder at the international stage and is currently in rich form in an otherwise misfiring Australian lineup. He will add the necessary balance and power-hitting beef to RCB’s middle order.
Quinton de Kock, Mandeep Singh
RCB had a problem of plenty. They had too many wicketkeepers and they had too many openers. De Kock had to have an exceptional season to be retained. He scored 201 runs in 8 games at an average of 25 and S/R of 124. Those are perfectly respectable numbers for a keeper batsman but the balance of the team was always compromised when he was in the XI. With Parthiv Patel in the team, he has been deemed a surplus to the squad and when Mumbai Indians came calling, RCB couldn’t refuse an all-cash deal for De Kock.
Mandeep Singh was RCB’s third highest run-getter last season behind Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers. He scored 252 in 13 innings averaging 25 and striking at 135. Given where he batted most times, Mandeep had a good IPL and has been rewarded with the captaincy of the Punjab team in Ranji Trophy this season. The lack of secondary skill is what prompted RCB to let him go and getting Stoinis to fill the all rounder’s slot was deemed more important for team balance. Also, Mandeep re-unites with his home club KXIP. A win-win situation for all parties then.
After all the releases and trades, RCB will go into the auction with INR 18.15 Cr., the 4th highest purse among the 8 teams.