RCB look to beef up seam bowling

In form Australian paceman Pat Cummins will be one of the hottest draws in the IPL Players' auction in Kolkata on Thursday. AFP

For long, Royal Challengers Bangalore have meddled with the hearts and minds of those who piously follow their cricket. For all this support - the M Chinnaswamy stadium still witnesses a steady throng - they are yet to win an IPL title.

Worse yet, they have finished at the bottom of the table twice in the last three years. Injuries, a not-so-astute understanding of the ‘horses for courses’ policy and sometimes captaincy have been cited as reasons for their mediocre show. 

But as is annually the case, the IPL auctions come around, and hopes are raised. The fact of the matter is, the Bangalore side’s inability to build a team under the hammer is what has hampered them all along. 

While they have been known to pack the side with some of the biggest names known in the cricketing universe, they have always done so at the cost of wafer-thinning one facet. While Virat Kohli and Co continue to coddle the batting unit, as always, they have ignored their seam unit and a genuine all-rounder for far too long. 

This time around, with Rs 27.90 crore in their purse and 12 players released, they have some stretching room to construct a side worth turning up for. The appointment of the astute Mike Hesson as director has given the faithful some reason to believe so. 

Malolan Rangarajan, a former Tamil Nadu player, has been assigned scouting duties and he has been dutiful through the year. While Bangalore have an abundance of local talent in Devdutt Padikkal, Washington Sundar and Pawan Negi among others, foreign players are the concern. Having released six of them, they’ll need to bank on a favourable bid order to pouch some decent names. 

The likes of Chris Lynn, Glenn Maxwell, Aaron Finch, Eoin Morgan are around, but they should be looking at Tom Banton with eagle eyes as an exception to the rule of solely bolstering the batting line-up. The English youngster, whose base price is Rs 1 crore, is already being spoken of as the next Kevin Pietersen, and while the comparison should be taken with a pinch of salt, his numbers (549 runs at 42.23) in the English T20 Blast to point to some serious potential.  

Bangalore’s biggest concern, still, is their bowling and the purse they possess could just hinder them in their purchase. For example, Pat Cummins, who would be a consummate addition to the squad, is priced at Rs 2 crore and is someone almost every other franchise is going to be gunning for. Kings XI Punjab and Kolkata Knight Riders, both of whom could use a paceman of that calibre, are significantly better placed financially to pouch the Australian. 

There are a few other names worth punting on, including West Indies’ Kesrick Williams who comes cheap, but Bangalore won’t want to be pushed to a corner where they have to make do as they have in the past. This team has borne the brunt of enough ridicule. Kohli must think so too. 

Retained players: AB de Villiers, Devdutt Padikkal, Gurkeerat Singh, Moeen Ali, Mohammed Siraj, Navdeep Saini, Parthiv Patel, Pawan Negi, Shivam Dube, Umesh Yadav, Virat Kohli, Washington Sundar, Yuzvendra Chahal. 

Released: Akshdeep Nath, Colin de Grandhomme, Dale Steyn, Heinrich Klassen, Himmat Singh, Kulwant Khejroliya, Marcus Stoinis, Milind Kumar, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Prayas Ray Barman, Shimron Hetmyer, Tim Southee.

Purse left: Rs 27.90 crore.  

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