IPL 2018 | Kohli, AB, Chahal or Gayle? Who will Royal Challengers Bangalore retain ahead of mega auction?

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BCCI

IPL 2018 | Kohli, AB, Chahal or Gayle? Who will Royal Challengers Bangalore retain ahead of mega auction?

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Faizan Qadiri

01/03/2018

In sports, adulation and hatred are often presented as two sides of the same coin. Successful teams - be it Man United in football, or the NFL’s Dallas Cowboys, or even the Australian cricket team - are loved by a set of fans often get criticism from rival supporters for the same reason.

This is, however, a stark contrast to animosity and veneration that one team in the IPL receives – Royal Challengers Bangalore. The team has never actually won the IPL crown, despite getting agonizingly close a couple of times, but it isn’t really the honours that have attracted the crowds to the Chinnaswamy for a decade. The role of the Pied Piper has been played by the sheer names that the management has been able to add to the teamsheet year in and year out.

Like most teams, RCB are spoilt for choices for their 3+2 or 2+3 retention policy. Considering the players that they have at their disposal they might just be interested in opting for the former. With the likes of Virat Kohli, AB de Villiers, Chris Gayle, Yuzvendra Chahal, Shane Watson, Samuel Badree, KL Rahul, and Kedar Jadhav, available for retention, it is sure to be a big headache for the three-time finalists. 

Retention List

Virat Kohli

Even though RCB have never won a title in the 10 years of their existence, they always start every single campaign as one of the major favorites but it has never really materialized into anything tangible. But RCB do have hope, and better yet they have Virat Kohli, about to trade his sherwani for a bat and some pads. He is quite easily the greatest limited-overs player in history and is a talent so unique that it is not even fair to compare anyone else to him. Even if one decides to ignore the 4,418 runs that he has scored at an average of 37.44 with a strike rate of 129.82, he still has the marketing pull that not too many, forget India, in the world, can hope to match.

 © BCCI

AB de Villiers 

In a country where the amount of devotion Indian cricketers receive from their fans is the same as the hate that is bestowed on the opposition, there is only one player who stands apart in this regard – Mr. 360. Unless RCB’s management have lost their marbles or want a full-fledged riot on the streets of Bengaluru, de Villiers’ inclusion in the retention list is a no-brainer. If you thought Kohli’s numbers were impressive, the South African has actually done better. He has averaged more than 34 runs in seven of the 10 editions of the IPL at an astonishing strike rate of 148.16. If there is one player every team would fear walking into bat, it has to be de Villiers – a man hardly anyone can hate.

Yuzvendra Chahal

Believe it or not, this IS the right call to make for the Challengers. There is no doubt that Chris Gayle still has a lot left in the tank to win games on his own. His exploits in all the leagues across the globe are a testament to his talent as a player. This could very well blow up in RCB’s face but it is definitely a risk worth taking. Let’s break it down to the two major reasons that a player is retained – marketability and ability. The aforementioned players take care of the first part so it's just the second part that needs to be addressed. While Gayle can pile on the runs, Chahal, at the other end, can restrict them. So it comes down to one simple factor – Who will be more expensive in the auction? The answer is the Indian. He, not only, does not fill up the overseas quota but is probably the best limited-overs bowler that India have to offer. That automatically makes him the best option available for RCB.

Right to Match Options

KL Rahul 

After an absolute monstrous performance in the Test series against Australia last year, where he scored an incredible six fifties in seven innings, Rahul was ruled out for more than four months and ended up missing the entire IPL season. But it wasn’t his Test exploits that RCB were interested in. A year before when RCB made it all the way to the final, Rahul had been one of the unsung heroes of the team. While the fans went gaga over Kohli and AB’s brilliance that year, very few will actually be able to remember that Rahul averaged a cool 44.11 at a strike rate of 146.49 in the same season. It is very likely that he will eventually go over the 10 crore bar in the IPL, but that will be an amount that RCB will be ready to pay. Being a local lad doesn’t hurt his cause as well.

Chris Gayle

This is a difficult one but it has to be the big man. He edges out Kedar Jadhav ever so slightly due to the fact that there are only two real franchises, Delhi and Punjab, that will be interested in signing the Windies star. His credentials speak for themselves but, to be realistic, it might be too much pressure on RCB’s purse to retain him and Rahul. However, Gayle’s ability cannot be discounted and if RCB can buy him back for anything less than 7 crores it might be the biggest heist since Mumbai Indians signing Hardik Pandya for a mere 10 lakhs in 2015. 

How logical is the policy 

Very. While RCB should ideally do away with one of the big three, it looks unlikely that they will go ahead with that plan. They have been a franchise that has always prided themselves as having the biggest names in cricket available at their disposal and it would be a real shock if they move away from that approach now. And if they are somehow able to hold on to all five of these players, with a couple of shrewd signings in the auction, they could become a real force to be reckoned with in the upcoming season.

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