Ee sala Cup Namde, meaning “Next time the Cup is Ours.” It has been the famous tag line for Royal Challengers Bengaluru ever since they reached the final and lost against Sun Risers Hyderabad. And now, in 2022, in the mega auction for IPL, RCB had a free hand to pick the players they like to build a strong team that can fulfill the phrase: “Ee Sala Cup Namde.” Did RCB get all the firepower they needed and wanted? Is this team an upgrade over the last year’s team? Who is the best buy from the mega auction? Who is the surprise pick? Who will change the fortune for RCB? Let’s compare and analyze the newly gathered team of RCB. Will Faf du Plessis do what Virat Kohli couldn’t?

The Challengers were at the number 4 position in the points table at the end of the tournament last season. RCB missed the opportunity to win the cup again. Ee sala cup namde? Let’s hope so!

Players retained by RCB before the mega auction:  Virat Kohli (15 Cr), Glenn Maxwell (11 Cr), Mohammad Siraj (7 Cr).

It was an unfortunate and emotional moment when AB de Villiers announced his retirement from all cricket. He has more fan following in India than South Africa because of his incredible performances for RCB over the years. This led RCB to get a player of his caliber from the mega auction.

Buybacks From The Mega Auction:

Harshal Patel, Shahbaz Ahmed, Wanindu Hasaranga, and Finn Allen.

The ABd Replacement

Faf du Plessis (7 Cr) & Finn Allen (80 L)

RCB got the replacement for ABd in the player from the same nation, Faf du Plessis! And fans were cheering this buy from the team management. Faf had an excellent last season of IPL playing for CSK as an opening batsman, and now he will play at the top of the order, which team management confirmed in the post-auction interview. Another option for a destructive batsman + wicketkeeper RCB bought is young Kiwi Finn Allen. He is known for his hard-hitting abilities in T20 format. The young gun can bat at the top order and keep the wickets. But he is most likely to be sitting on the bench most of the time unless there is injury or some players are out of form!

Faf scored 633 runs at the strike rate of 138.21 and an average of 45.21 in the last season playing for CSK. He was the 2nd highest run-scorer in the tournament, with just two runs short of securing the top position. This shows he can score like ABd and become a dependable batsman for RCB in the coming season.

Wicket Keeper + Finisher?

Current list of keepers: Dinesh Karthik (5.5 Cr), Anuj Rawat (3.4 Cr), Luvnith Sisodiya (20 L)

People who follow RCB know that middle-order batting and lack of Finisher have been the Achilles Heel for the team for years. So, did they solve it? Most certainly, yes!

RCB bought 3 WK’s and, most notably, “Indian WK’s”: Dinesh Karthik, Anuj Rawat, and Luvnith Sisodiya. DK will undoubtedly keep the wickets for the whole season as it appears. Anuj and Luvnith are the two young batters with excellent domestic batting records, but both of them will be a backup for DK.

RCB’s Love for Pace:

RCB always had good pacers and was pretty expensive ones too! But they failed to perform as their status for RCB regularly. Be it Starc or Jameson, or Steyn could not win matches for RCB. But this year, they got medium-pacers instead of express bowlers.

Aussie bowlers Josh Hazlewood & Jason Behrendorff, English seamer David Willey, and Indian medium-pacers Siddharth Kaul, Akash Deep, Chama Milind. 3 out of these 6 are left-arm bowlers. A strategic advantage for particular matches.

Current pace attack:

Josh Hazlewood (7.75 Cr), Jason Behrendorff (75 L), David Willey (2 Cr), Siddharth Kaul (75 L), Chama Milind (25 L), Akash Deep (20 L).

Out of 3 foreign pacers, Josh Hazlewood is most likely to play most matches as there is a restriction of a maximum of 4 foreign players in playing 11. He played last season for CSK and took 12 wickets in 12 games with a respectable economy rate of 7.93. But his ability to strike early in powerplay will solve RCB’s opening bowling problem.

Weaker Spin Attack?

It was shocking for the cricket community when RCB decided not to retain Yuzvendra Chahal. He holds the record for most wickets by any RCB bowler, with whopping 139 wickets in 114 matches. Yuzi had a bad season last year, struggling to get wickets, and RCB chose to break the knots with him this season. He was always the partnership breaker for RCB. So, did RCB get his replacement? It isn’t very clear!

Spinners RCB bought are Wanindu Hasaranga & Karn Sharma. The other 3 are all-rounders who can bowl: Shahbaz Ahmed, Mahipal Lomror, and Aneeshwar Gautam.

Current spin strength of RCB:

Wanindu Hasaranga (10.75 Cr), Karn Sharma (50 L), Shahbaz Ahmed (2.4 Cr), Mahipal Lomror (95 L), Aneeshwar Gautam (20 L).

Wanindu Hasaranga will be the crucial spinner and middle-order batsman, and he can bat as well. But it all depends upon his form in the tournament. He failed to deliver last season and played two matches with 0 wickets and one run.

Lack of a proper right-arm off-spinner will hurt RCB? Time will tell.

Over dependency on all-rounders?

Over the years, RCB used all-rounders as middle-order batsmen and failed to get expected results most of the time. This auction was not much different, and RCB bought most of their players in the bowler or all-rounder category. Only 5 batsmen were purchased, and that includes wicket keepers too.

RCB all-rounders: Glenn Maxwell (11 Cr), Shahbaz Ahmed (2.4 Cr), David Willey (2 Cr), Wanindu Hasaranga (10.75 Cr), Mahipal Lomror (95L), Sherfane Rutherford(1 Cr), Aneeshwar Gautam (20 L), and Suyash Prabhudessai (30L).

Glenn Maxwell is most likely to bat at no. 3 or 4, making batting top-heavy, again. Shahbaz can bat and hit the ball well, but he is not consistent enough. Hence, RCB is again in a dilemma to choose between bowlers and all-rounders to play in the team.

Top Order or Top Heavy?

King Kohli has opened the batting for RCB for years now, and it isn’t very certain for him to go down in the batting position. So, that makes Faf and Virat an opening pair. Number 3 and 4 are most likely to be filled by Glenn Maxwell and Dinesh Karthik. That again shrinks the batting depth. Virat is going through a tough time catching a good form. It concerns RCB batting. If these top 4 batsmen collapse, it will be the same old story for RCB when the team doesn’t score enough to defend.

Mingling Middle and Lowe-order Batting

Maxwell, in recent times, has proven himself a decent number 3 and 4 batter by scoring a century in the current season of the BBL. In the middle and lower order, Mahipal Lomror/Shahbaz Ahmed, Wanindu Hasaranga, and David Willey/Harshal Patel are most likely to get a place in the playing 11. So much depends on Maxwell and DK that if they fail to perform, the team will surely be at the mercy of all the all-rounders to make a defendable score.

The Core of the Team

RCB core team will revolve around these players, mainly: Virat, Faf, and Maxwell as top batters, Siraj and Hazlewood will lead the pace attack, DK will keep the wickets, and Shahbaz & Wanindu will be spin department.

Now, this core team includes 4 foreign players, so the rest of the team has to be Indian:

Virat Kohli, Faf du Plessis, Glenn Maxwell, Dinesh Karthik, Wanindu Hasaranga, Shahbaz Ahmed, Harshal Patel, Mohammad Siraj, and Josh Hazlewood.

The following best options are Anuj, Siddharth, and Mahipal. Anuj can be used as number 3 or 4 as an experiment to stabilize the batting; Maxwell can go down to 4 and DK to 5:

Siddharth Kaul, Mahipal Lomror, and Anuj Rawat.

These 11 players include 4 batters, 1 wicketkeeper, 3 fast bowlers, 2 spinners, and 1 all-rounder.

Strength:

  • Top batting order.
  • Good quality foreign players.
  • Harshal Patel’s form in the middle and death overs.
Weakness:

  • No right-arm off-spinner can cause troubles against teams with leftie batters.
  • Inexperienced middle-order batting.
  • Many good foreign player options.
  • Better foreign player options are available but fewer better options for Indian players.
Opportunities:

  • Uncapped Indian players can perform well if given chances. Example: Anuj Rawat.
  • Most of the batting issues will be solved if Virat gets his form back.
  • Rotation of foreign players in the squad.
Threats:

  • Virat is exposed to his weakness against left-arm seamers and leg-spinners.
  • The collapse of the top order will be a significant threat.

Fun Fact: Karn Sharma played for 4 IPL teams and won titles for 3! Except for RCB. Can he be the X-FACTOR for RCB and bring luck to the Challengers? It will be interesting to see if RCB gives him enough opportunities to perform.