It's that time of the year when the mock-auctions and price predictions are doing rounds on the social media. The hype & enthusiasm around fans keeps getting bigger every year.
This is where the IPL is won or lost, this is where dreams are fulfilled. This two-day event is responsible for shaping up the franchise's future for the next four years. Unlike the initial years, franchises have started investing in players purely on skill rather than their stardom. They are using data extensively by running complex machine learning algorithms. Every team now has a huge group of analysts and scouts. This will be well reflected in the upcoming auctions.
A total of 590 players will go under the hammer (370 Indian and 220 overseas). 30 players have been retained by 8 franchises. The 2 new teams have signed 3 players each.
RCB have retained Virat Kohli (15cr), Glenn Maxwell(11cr), Mohammad Siraj (7cr) and have 57 crores available in their purse.
In 2018, they had a disastrous mega auction. Many picks baffled majority of fans and experts. They went for a 37 year old Brendon McCullum, a medium pace attack of Woakes-Southee to bowl at Chinnaswamy. This did not stop there, as they went on to give up KL Rahul by using their RTM for Pawan Negi instead. Last nail in the coffin was signing Corey Anderson and then trading Quinton de Kock the next year.
The biggest concern in front of them is to get a captain. Things would have been easier if they had announced Maxwell to lead before the auctions. This would prevent them from exhausting majority of their purse in quest of a leader.
There are 5 areas RCB would like to fill
2. Middle order batter (preferrably a left-hander)
3. Indian middle order batter.
4. Leg Spinner
5. Death bowler
So lets look at the available options for these 5 positions.
Dhawan, Paddikal, Warner, Roy, Bairstow, du Plessis
2. Middle order batter.
Best set of available players -> Ishan, Pooran, Livingstone, Mitchell Marsh.
3. Indian middle order batter.
Best set of available players -> Rahul Tripathi, Shahrukh Khan, Manish Pandey, Ambati Rayudu
4. Leg Spinner
Best set of available players -> Chahal, Hasaranga, Zampa, Mujeeb, Chahar
5. Death bolwer
Best set of available players -> Lockie, Rabada, Cummins, Jhye Richardson, Trent Boult, Harshal, Jofra Archer (silent bid)
Out of these set set of players RCB might aggresively target these 5-6 players
A left handed opener would be the perfect partner with Virat Kohli at the top. Warner comes with the captaincy package as well. His stature in IPL is gargantuan. Over 5000 runs at an average of 41 and SR of 140 are ridiculous numbers.
Bairstow on the other hand can keep as well. Thats what edges him ahead of his English teammate Jason Roy. That 185-run partnership against the Challengers would make them bid even more fiercely for the duo if we go by the pattern of big-buys in the last few auctions.
2. Ishan Kishan
He is been already predicted as the most expensive buy in the auctions. And why shouldn't that be. Indian southpaw who can open as well as bat in middle order with the ability to keep makes him a rare commoditity. RCB have struggled for a good left-hander who can bash spin in the middle order since ages. So much so that they had to promote Washington Sundar at top few times. An average of 45 and SR of 137 in the middle overs of last 2 seasons make him an ideal pick.
3. Rahul Tripathi/Shahrukh Khan
One area along with death bowling where RCB should break the bank is this one. Batting in middle order is one of the toughest jobs going around. Rahul Tripathi is one batter who looks to go after the bowlers right from ball 1. He has proved his potential for KKR where he was assigned this job. Shahrukh Khan is expected to fetch huge sum just like he did last year. His last-ball heroics against Karnataka in SMAT Final is just a glimpse of his talent and skill. A hard-hitting finisher after Maxwell is what RCB would be looking for.
4. Yuzi Chahal
This man doesn't get enough recognition which he deserves. He has been one of the strongest pillars of the RCB when the limelight was focussed on Kohli-de Villiers all these years. Chahal has taken 139 wkts for RCB at an eco rate of 7.59 since his first match for the franchise in 2015 and no other bowler has been more economical in high-scoring games of the league.
Last time they got him through RTM but this time they don't have this luxury. Many teams will be eyeing him since his impressive run in the 2nd half of IPL in the UAE.
5. Lockie Ferguson
Probably the biggest area where RCB have improved themselves in the last couple of seasons is death bowling. From losing winnable games to pulling things back from impossible situations has been a pattern which RCB exhibited in the last 2 seasons. Mohammad Siraj and Harshal Patel are the major enforcers for this turnaround. Lockie + Siraj would be just the perfect recipe. But one major concern is Lockie's fitness. He misses games quite often. Missed few games in IPL's 2nd half and the T20 World Cup. There is one more gamble in Jofra Archer that can prove worthy. But that totally depends on how much money is available during the accelerated session.