Bowlers, prime focus of RCB

Bowlers, prime focus of RCB

The firepower in Royal Challengers Bangalore squad has always kept them among the chief contenders for the Indian Premier League title. But they have not managed to bring the silverware to their cabinet despite coming close a few times in the past six seasons.

Many reasons can be pointed out for them stumbling on the final hurdle but the primary reason could be their inability to defend totals. Unlike their top order batsmen, the Royal Challengers bowlers could not deliver consistently, and that explains them finishing fifth in two consecutive seasons after reaching the final in 2011. Boosting their bowling attack could be the primary aim of Royal Challengers in the auction ahead of the seventh season of the IPL.

They have retained the core of batting -- Chris Gayle, AB de Villiers and Virat Kohli -- and now they would like to add more depth and quality to their bowling line-up. That they have decided not to retain any bowler is a strong indication of them gunning for some new names ahead of the tournament. And there is plenty on offer too, particularly after Delhi Daredevils chose not to retain any player and the annuling of Pune Warriors. With a purse of Rs 30.5 crore available for them to spend after retaining three players, the Royal Challengers can look to draft in some heavy names like Morne Morkel, Mitchell Starc and Pat Cummins from the non-India players’ pool and from among the Indian players they can aim for Mohammad Shami and Bhuvneshwar Kumar.

Of course, they also have a right to match card at their disposal with which they can acquire one of their own players during the auction, and Karnataka skipper R Vinay Kumar, who played a stellar role in the state’s triumphant Ranji Trophy campaign this season, looks favourite for that slot at this point of time. Vinay had also led the Bangalore attack quite efficiently during the last season when Zaheer Khan was nursing an injury. 

The RCB officials also have expressed their wish to rope in the experienced Zaheer as the left-arm pacer could work in tandem with the new bowling coach, the legendary Allan Donald.

The Mumbaikar, in the past, had donned the role of a mentor to the younger bowlers in the side.

However, it will be naive to think that the RCB batting doesn’t require any beefing up. Over the last two seasons, they relied heavily on Gayle, De Villiers and Kohli to post and chase big totals. But the Royal Challengers have struggled badly when the troika had an off-day, and in that context the Vijay Mallya-owned side would be eager to add some more muscle, class and depth to their middle and late order. Here too, they have a number of options to explore.

They can train their eyes on home boys Robin Uthappa and Manish Pandey and swashbuckling India batsman Yuvraj Singh, let free after the disbanding of Warriors. It’s possible that the Bangalore outfit might go for Kiwi Ross Taylor, whom they have off-loaded after the 2009 season, as the hard-hitting right-hander has reinvented himself as a batsman in recent times. ust like many other franchises in the fray, RCB may also go after New Zealand all-rounders Corey Anderson or James Neesham after their recent exploits.

That former New Zealand skipper Daniel Vettori is their coach this time too come in handy for the Royal Challengers in the pursuit of these high-on-demand Antipodeans.

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