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RCB SWOT Analysis: Kohli-led side might prove IPL recruitment cell for young crop

Records, big names, exciting knocks and what not, you name it and Royal Challenger Bangalore have that in their arsenal. Name anything but not an IPL title. It isn’t like they have never come close to winning it. They have thrice and once when their captain Virat Kohli amassed 973 runs including four tons in one single season back in 2016. 

So what has gone wrong for RCB? 

Well, the question has been wandering like a traveller without any bucket list to strike-off. But this is not a travel itinerary, this is about the biggest domestic T20 league. Do they need to change the tactics? Of course. Do they need to tweak the line up? Obviously

But before we jump on to what has been wrong with the team’s combination over the years, let’s look at how did they fare in the last season. RCB managed to make it to the play-offs after winning the seven games they played out of 14. Looking at the last five matches that RCB played, they only managed to win one of them and the reason behind this slump was their inability to score enough runs while batting first. 

RCB tried a few different opening combinations that didn’t really work for them and they were eventually in a spot of bother. One of the major boxes that the RCB side need to tick is having a middle order batsman who can stay at the crease for a longer period if required or can accelerate to put pressure on the opposition especially while batting first. 

The franchise should focus on making a core team with young brigade.

Problems of “NOT” having plenty 

When you let go off someone like Chris Gayle and KL Rahul, you will always struggle to find a perfect combination for the opening slot. It was in 2018 when RCB took this flirtatious decision of releasing Gayle and Rahul. Both the players went to KXIP. While Gayle scored 368 runs in 11 appearances for Punjab, Rahul amassed 659 runs in 14 matches. Surely, a decision that me as a fan regretted, can’t really discuss what the team management had in mind. 

Moving on to Devdutt Padikkal who has been impressive in the brief stint that he has with RCB. SURPRISINGLY, RCB hasn’t let Devdutt go off. But the thorn that would keep stinging them is finding an opening partner for him. Well, they could have used up the services of Joshua Philippe who is one prolific batsman but he was only capped five times for RCB and that too mostly in the lower middle-order. 

The next complication that RCB face is of making a strong core team. They generally run out of options as soon as the senior pros fail to fire. With Devdutt, Virat, ABD in the top-order, RCB seek services of proper batsman and a genuine fast bowling all-rounder to take care of the middle order and for keeping the onus of laying the role of a bridge between the middle, lower-middle order and tail.

RCB for now have Philippe and ABD for donning the wicket-keeper’s hat but they would also need an Indian gloveman for the same duties who can be decent with the bat. 

Coming down to the bowling department, RCB’s pool of Indian fast bowlers include Mohammed Siraj and Navdeep Saini. Now the problem that the side faces is that the two seamers have a habit of leaking a lot of runs in the shorter format of the game. In 35 IPL matches, Siraj has given away runs at an economy of 9.08 while Saini has played 26 matches and given away runs at 8.28. 


Starting with the top order, RCB needs somebody to be the specialist opening batsman who can stick around with Devdutt and provide the team with decent and steady starts. Josh Philippe though has been retained by the franchise but the team also needs an extra batsman if required. RCB can bid for Dawid Malan who also solves the problem of the opening batsman as well as can be a replacement for an overseas player. 

The number three, four and sixth positions are pretty sorted for now with the likes of Kohli, ABD, Washington Sundar in the ranks. The Bangalore franchise needs a genuine batsman to play at number five who has the traits of holding the ends strongly while can also go after the opponent bowling attack if and when required. Well, to solve the issue, the franchise can have a look at some of the domestic players who have performed in a pretty decent manner recently. 

Players like Shahrukh Khan, Rahul Singh and Vishnu Solanki can solve this issue for RCB. The franchise can also go for an overseas all-rounder for this position who can play the role of an anchor in the middle order. Someone like Shakib Al Hasan can be picked in the squad if the team needs an overseas player. Being a former captain himself and a perfect all-rounder, he can bring a lot to the table. 

KS Bharat can be the third wicket-keeper batsman in the team to fill the void. 

With Daniel Sams, Yuzvendra Chahal, Adam Zampa, Mohammed Siraj, Navdeep Saini is on the retained list, Harshal Patel and Daniel Sams has been traded to RCB, which means that the team has a number of alternatives to choose from when it comes to bowling but when the RCB bowling unit leaks runs, they do it in the poorest way they can. 

The Bangalore team needs an overseas fast bowler and a couple of Indian bowlers of the same genre to bring strength to the side. Riley Meredith had a brilliant BBL season this year after he scalped 16 wickets in 13 matches for Hobart Hurricanes. Apart from this, the quick bowler had bowled at an economy of 7.83. RCB’s problem of leaking runs can be solved if someone like Riley comes in the side. Talking about some Indian bowlers, Ankit Rajpoot and Varun Aaron can be two players who can fill the spots. The two are experienced enough to play competitive cricket. 

Purse remaining

RCB have a purse of Rs 35.90 Cr remaining with them. 

Players retained and slots left

RCB have retained Virat Kohli, AB de Villiers, Yuzvendra Chahal, Devdutt Padikkal, Washington Sundar, Mohammed Siraj, Navdeep Saini, Adam Zampa, Shahbaz Ahmed, Josh Philippe, Kane Richardson, Pavan Deshpande. They are left with 8 Indian and three overseas slots making it a total of 11. 

What to spend and how?

With a purse of Rs 35.90 Cr, RCB can easily target players like Malan, Shakib and Meredith. Even if Malan and Meredith go under a bidding war, the three overseas slot might get filled in Rs 17 Cr. Malan and Meredith might fetch somewhere around Rs 7Cr while Shakib can be bought at a price of around Rs 3 Cr. The franchise is still left with around Rs 18 Cr in their kitty. 

Shahrukh Khan might get some good sum while uncapped players like Rahul Singh, Vishnu Solanki, KS Bharat and Rahul Singh can be picked somewhere around their base prices. Moving on to the two Indian fast bowlers, Ankit Rajpoot and Varun Aaron, they both can be picked up in decent amounts and won’t cost much. 

Predicted Starting XIs

Devdutt Padikkal, Josh Philippe (WK), Virat Kohli (C), AB de Villiers, Shahrukh Khan/Shakib/Dawid Malan, Washington Sundar, Daniel Sams, Yuzvendra Chahal, Mohammed Siraj, Navdeep Saini, Riley Meredith/Ankit Rajpoot

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2nd Test Report: Masterful Rohit, ruthless Ashwin, relentless spinners hand India series-levelling win

The version of India that every fan and cricket experts were expecting to see before the start of the series, finally arrived, although a Test match late. While the last game proved to be a rather uncharacteristic game for the Indians which surprised many, the second Test saw the ruthlessness and complete domination by the hosts as the buoyant England team capitulated completely in both the innings to hand India a chance to come roaring back in the series and the race for the World Championship Final. There were many architects for India on a pitch that sparked a wide range of debates from the experts across the world, but the hosts had a point to prove that they are a better side in their own conditions and the occasion could not have been greater when the series and the reputation of being invincible at home were at stake. Rohit stood a class apart playing a splendid inning of 161 while Ashwin taught the Englishmen the art of both bowling and batting on such pitches, while Rahane and Pant chipped in valuable contributions in the first innings. Rohit Sharma was exemplary to start off the proceedings and he was under serious pressure after trails of poor scores in the first Test and the two Tests against Australia. On a pitch that had seen the better of his other teammates who have had better credentials in Test matches, Rohit set a template for the batsmen on how to bat on such pitches, and still, he remained the highest scorer till the end of the game. In some sort, it was a career-defining innings from him where he proved the point why the team management keeps on backing him even when he fails to convert big and throws his big wicket in pursuit of expansive shots. Ajinkya Rahane was brilliant as well and the confidence Kohli had shown on him before the Test match was repaid with a partnership with Rohit that neutralised and battered the England spinners. England were guilty of being accurate on the first day and the score of 300 runs on the first day was already a situation that had gone out of their hands. Their spinners could produce some magical deliveries to get the best of even Virat Kohli, but the lack of control and consistency in the line proved detrimental for them in the first innings. Moeen Ali came into this Test after spending the entire length of the tour of Sri Lanka in quarantine. Ironically, he was brought in as the replacement for Dominic Bess who picked up wickets but was ineffective in giving skipper Root some sort of control to check India running away with the game. Jack Leach was more accurate of the two spinners, but desperate Root over bowled him on the spinning surface and he too started to dish out loose balls to Rohit and Rahane to capitalise. Although they clogged India back after the twin strikes of Rohit and Rahane on the first day, the score of 329 was good enough to send a stern warning on this pitch. England were under pressure with the amount of turn and bounce on offer to Indian spinners, and their fears were not unreasonable. Their openers were gone even before Ashwin settled in his spell and especially Dominic Sibley came with the premeditated thought of sweeping the ball having seen his skipper do it successfully on similar pitches in Sri Lanka. However, this pitch and the pace of Indian spinners were a bit different from the challenges they had faced in the recent past. Joe Root has been playing like Don Bradman in Test matches this year, but the law of averages finally caught the English skipper when his team badly needed him to perform. It has been a season of Indian debutants to shine and Axar Patel was the latest member to ride on the bandwagon. He was set to play in the last game but missed out due to injury, but he could not have asked for a more conducive pitch to aid his type of bowling. The pitch needed the spinners to bowl on or around the lien of stumps and he as the perfect man to do so, and hence he was missed by India in the last game. He got the big wicket of Root in the first innings, while followed it up with a stupendous five-wicket haul to make the most of the pitch. England did not do much wrong in this game but were still outplayed by India who looked on a mission to avenge the loss in the first Test. They gambled on putting out a surface that assisted spinners from the first day and it could have gone either way if they had faced another collapse, but the skills and temperament in their batting order stood firm and England’s limitations were exposed. Coming into the fourth day, the writing was on the wall for Root’s men, and any chance of magical comeback started to unravel when Ashwin foxed Dan Lawrence even before delivering his wicket-taking ball. The off-spinner was all over England’s makeshift number three and the effects of playing on his mind were telling in the second innings. Lawrence was guilty of premeditating playing Ashwin coming down the wicket and the off-spinner was too wily to beat him on the line. There were no chances of England saving the game, but it was more of earning some confidence before the pink ball Test for which they put all at stake by resting James Anderson, but all of that hopes were shattered as well when Stokes was once again done in by Ashwin, while Axar was too accurate for the resilience of Root. The smile that the England skipper offered after delivery from Axar took his glove after spitting off the surface like a cobra was the fitting end of England’s defiance and their helplessness. India were lucky enough that Kohli finally broke the chain of losing the toss but he was bullish in his assertion after the game that the nature of the pitch made the toss irrelevant as he had the resources at his disposal to run through the England batting line up even on the first day. Kohli was back to his fiery best while on the filed, but he too will do well to realise at times his behaviours did not look fitting to the stature he holds in world cricket. Ravichandran Ashwin was adjudged man of the match for his splendid innings with the bat and eight wickets across the two innings. He missed out narrowly on joining Sir Ian Botham, Imran Khan and Shakib Al Hasan in the special list of players who have had a ton and 10 wicket haul in a Test match, but his delight after completing the century and addressing the crowd in his native Tamil must have been enough to stamp his credentials as the biggest match winner for India on home soil. Now, the sides have higher stakes in next game and both Kohli and Root reiterated the importance of the pink ball Test scheduled to start on February 24 in Motera, Ahmedabad. Both India and England will bring one more seamer in their line up and while Root will welcome Anderson back, India too will welcome Jasprit Bumrah.


2nd Test Day 3 Report: Masterful R Ashwin owns Chepauk to put England on brink

The momen England were bolwed out at 134 in their first innings, it was always going to be a tough ask for them to save the second Test of the series on a picth that has been deemed too much in favour of bowlers, precisely spinners. England were behind in the game by more than 250 runs at the start of the hird day and their hopes were reliant on a collapse by the Indian batting order. The pitch was playing tricks and England were able to have a dream start, prizing out Cheteshwar Pujara, Rohit Sharma and Rishabh Pant fairly quickly. Although England were behind in the game, failure of Indian batsmen and a collapse would have fuelled the deabte around the quality of the pitch which was rated as a ‘beach’ by former England captain Michael Vughan. When India started to collapse in the first session, there was expectations that the match will be finished inside three days, but Virat Kohli and Ravichandran Ashwin took upon themselves to show that the pitch was not unplayable, and that with better application and decisive footwork, runs were there for the taking. The duo started defending going to the pitch of the ball and attempted to score off the backfoot when English spinners started to lose their discipline once again. Kohli looked in total command, and the put on half century that many rated as good as some of his best innings in Test cricket. They put on a 96 run partnership before Kohli was beaten for the first time on backfoot by Moeen Ali and another impressive innings from the Indian skipper was cut short before he could hit a mcuh-awaited hundred. On the other hand, Ashwin was continuing on his merry way and defied all England bowlers in a picth and nararrative defying innings that lasted 148 deliveries. He had alerted a warning to the English camp a aday before and there he was making all that warning come true at the expense of Root and his teammates. Kohli batted well for his 62 and while the English spin twins Moeen Ali and Jack Leach finsihed with four wickets each, but the day belonged to Ashwin who put on another masterclass on the second consecutive day in this Test. On the second day, it was his bowling that had thrown England out of the game, while his batting floored a dn deflated the England team on the third day. After teaching his English ocunterparts how to bowl on this pitch in the first innings on the second day, the batsmen inside Ashwin rose to the occassion on the next day to teach them another lesson, and this time, a rancourous one with the bat in his hand. Root threw everything he had at his dispoal from Olly Stone’s pace to Stuart Broad’s leg cutters, but Ashwin, the batsman was ina a idfrerent zone and the feeling that he carried his own pitch to the middle must have gone through the fruatarted minds of Englihsmen. Ashwin was batting with immense confidence on his defence, something that must have irked the English batsmen who could not muster him while bolw in his hand, but was proactive to chnage his appraoch after Ishant Sharma got out. Ashwin was in pursuit of a rare hundred that would have made the stage his own and the crowd at Chepauk were right behind the local hero who was at the top of his game. When Broad bolwed full in pursuit of taking out his stumps, he was delat with punch over his head, while Stone’s short deliveris were flat batted to all parts of the ground. Leach’s full balls were lofted over the top, while the long hops were pulled. He was merciless against anything loose, and Root must have gone through a phase where he would have loved to see his batsmen watching theoff spinner giving them a harsh lesson on how to bat. The last man with the bat, Siraj’s delight when Ashwin completed his century emphasized the place Ashwin holds in the dressing room and the sledge by Australian captain that the team does not love him must have been crushed to death at Chepauk. England finally managed to see his back after his century but the real challenge was remaining for the tourist on the third day. They were tasked with the target of 482 runs to go 2-0up in the series, but it looked like more a punishment and thundering from the Indian team which was clearly not happy at them getting outplayed at their own peril in the last game. The balls was turning from the stump line and after Kohli handed the task of rattling the batsmen towards the end of the day’s play to Axar as Ashwin was away after spending so much time on the field. Kohli also handed Ishant the opportunity to do wahtever he could do best with the new ball before Ashwin returned with a huge roar from the crowd at Chepauk. Axar was the man for India and his brisk pace and line of attack at the stumps made him a lethal weapon on this pitch. He has been brought in to do the task Ravindra Jadeja used to do when was fit and the left armer’s reliance on natural variation off the pitch paid dividends for the hosts as Dominic Sibley was caught hoping to hit the ball right infront of the wicket. Opener Rory Burns has not had the best of times with the bat and was on pair in the second innings. He was gifted a reprive when Rishabh Pant could not hang onto an edge from his bat off Ashwin, but he was proved too meak and incapable by Ashwin who kept coming at him. The drift that defeated Stokes in the first innings proved to be too good for him, but he was gukity of doing a cardinal sin when he tried to close the face of the bat to a ball turning sharply and the edge was caught by an ecstatic Virat Kohli in the gulley region. The day’s play could not have been any less action-packed as an acurate Axar Patel caught a nervous Joe Root right back in the crease. Umpire Nitin Menoo did not pay heed to vociferous appeal from the Indians, and the the hosts opted for the DRS. Turned out, Menon had adjudged it not out pressuming the appeal was for a cuaght behind, but the third umpire Anil Chaudhary clearly found on replays that Root had missed the ball and that it had hit him on the pad. On the ball tracker, the point of imapct was ruled ‘umpire’s call’ and hence the decisions which was given on the grounds of caught behind stayed on the grounds of an LBW appeal as well and the whole Indian players including Kohli and the support staff in the dressing room clearly looked upset with the call. The much-sought wicket of Root would have thrown match firmly into India’s on the third day itself but Kohli would back his troops to come up trumps against England on the fourth day. Even a draw seems highly unlikely, but Kohli and India would be all eager to see the back of Ben Stokes and Joe Root as quickly as possible on the fourth day.