Royal Challengers Bangalore are top heavy but have a very balanced squad

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The Royal Challengers Bangalore have never won an Indian Premier League title despite appearing in two finals and having an enviable bunch of players over the last 10 years.

Led by Virat Kohli and featuring the likes of AB de Villiers and Chris Gayle over the years, it’s flabbergasting that RCB are still searching for their first title.

After the auction for the upcoming season, RCB again have a great squad – one of the best on paper – and this time they are not only heavy on batting but have also got a good mix of all-rounders and bowlers.

“Our plan going into the auction was to look at players that will help us to form a balanced squad and give us a strong advantage on the field,” head coach Daniel Vettori was quoted as saying.

“We are very happy with the players and as a team, we will ensure that we all come together including our fans, to celebrate the spirit of cricket by playing bold.”

Here’s a look at how RCB did in the auction:

Squad breakdown

Total players: 24
Overseas players: 8
Batsmen: Virat Kohli, AB de Villiers (o), Brendon McCullum (o), Manan Vohra, Sarfaraz Khan, Mandeep Singh, Pavan Deshpande
Wicketkeepers: Quinton de Kock (o), Parthiv Patel
All-rounders: Washington Sundar, Pawan Negi, Moeen Ali (o), Chris Woakes (o), Colin de Grandhomme (o), Aniruddha Joshi
Bowlers: Yuzvendra Chahal, M Ashwin, Umesh Yadav, Tim Southee (o), Mohammed Siraj, Navdeep Saini, Nathan Coulter-Nile (o), Kulwant Khejroliya, Aniket Choudhary.
*(o): Overseas player

Strengths

RCB had made their intentions clear by retaining three batsmen – Virat Kohli, AB de Villiers and Sarfaraz Khan – ahead of the auction.

They teased everyone by choosing not to retain or bid for Chris Gayle, who has won them several matches singlehandedly this decade, but then went ahead and bought three other destructive batsmen – Brendon ‘158’ McCullum, Quinton de Kock and Parthiv Patel.

The Bengaluru-based franchise has always preferred being top heavy but this year they have made an effort to ensure their batting runs deep. Apart from the beefy top-order, they’ve also got Indian batsmen Manan Vohra and Mandeep Singh, along with all-rounders Moeen Ali, Chris Woakes, Washington Sundar and Pawan Negi to shore up their batting.

RCB have, in previous seasons, also been accused of neglecting their bowling but that’s not the case this year. The M Chinnaswamy Stadium is renowned as a batting paradise, which explains RCB’s penchant for having their squad batting heavy, but this year they also have plenty of bowling options, such as Umesh Yadav, Tim Southee, Yuzvendra Chahal, Mohammed Siraj, Navdeep Saini, Nathan Coulter-Nile and Sundar.

With Ashish Nehra also in their coaching staff, RCB have made it clear that it’s not just about Kohli and ABD this year.

Weaknesses

It’s hard to pick a weakness in a very balanced-looking squad but if one had to nitpick, it would have to be the fact that they don’t really have a single match-winning all-rounder, who can single-handedly turn games. Moeen Ali is an interesting pick but has never played in the IPL before. Chris Woakes is good, but he’s no Ben Stokes.

RCB are banking heavily on Sundar, with CEO Amrit Thomas saying that the management was prepared to pay even more than the Rs 3.2 crore they eventually did for the Tamil Nadu all-rounder. But how influential can he prove?

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