New Delhi: Can the perennial under-achievers of the IPL turn it around for good this time? It’s a question for which the Virat Kohli-led Royal Challengers Bangalore will hope to have a positive answer, having addressed the side’s death bowling woes at the auction.
Kohli has called the current squad the most balanced since the 2016 edition when the team reached its third final but ended up on the losing side yet again.
RCB paid Rs 10 crore for the services of South African bowling all-rounder Chris Morris and the management will be relying heavily on him for those tight spells in the death overs and the big hits lower down the order.
Ever since Chris Gayle’s departure in 2017, the batting has revolved around Kohli and A B de Villiers but they will certainly feel a lot less burdened with the arrival of Australian white-ball captain Aaron Finch.
Kohli can either open with Finch or come in at one down to make way for Parthiv Patel or the highly rated Devdutt Padikkal to opening alongside the Australian.
In games where the star players don’t fire, the onus will be on the likes of Gurkeerat Singh Mann and Shivam Dube to do the job lower down the order.
This time, RCB seem to have much better balance compared to the past three seasons but there are questions over their big-hitting ability late in the innings.
That area can be shored up if Moeen Ali is picked in the eleven as other overseas all-rounder alongside Morris.
There is likely to be a toss up between off-spinner Ali and leg-spinner Adam Zampa, who comes into the squad as a late replacement for pacer Kane Richardson.
To start with, RCB’s probably four overseas picks will be Finch, de Villiers, Morris and Dale Steyn, who was bought back at the auction in December.
With Ali, Zampa, Yuzvendra Chahal and Washington Sundar, the spin department, which holds the key on UAE pitches, looks a strong one.
The pacers who are likely to make it include Morris, Steyn, Navdeep Saini and Mohammad Siraj/Umesh Yadav.
RCB also have a handy option in Sri Lanka pacer Isuru Udana, who can be effective in the death overs.
With a new coaching staff in place, including Mike Hesson and Simon Katich, and a beefed up squad, RCB do have a shot at an elusive title.
Their loyal fans back in Bengaluru will be hoping they don’t flatter to deceive this time around and do a lot better than the past three seasons, when they finished eighth, sixth and eighth.
RCB play their opener against Sunrisers Hyderabad in Dubai on September 21.
Squad: Aaron Finch, Devdutt Padikkal, Parthiv Patel, Virat Kohli, AB de Villiers, Gurkeerat Singh, Shivam Dube, Chris Morris, Washington Sundar, Shahbaz Ahmed, Navdeep Saini, Dale Steyn, Yuzvendra Chahal, Adam Zampa, Isuru Udana, Moeen Ali, Josh Phillppe, Pawan Negi, Pavan Deshpande, Mohammad Siraj, Umesh Yadav. (PTI)