How can a team which is one the most valuable brands in the entire IPL also concurrently be the biggest laughing stock of the competition? Only Virat Kolhi knows the answer to that.
Every RCB season is so predictable: by the end of the campaign, if you’re a fan, you’ll inevitably be reduced to tears and if you’re a hater, you’ll have the last laugh. KXIP might think choking is their ally, but RCB was born in it and molded by it. Their shenanigans date back to the first-ever season, where they unironically picked a full-fledged Test XI to feature in the IPL.
Thankfully, they decided to do away with that god-awful ploy. Throwing caution to the wind post 2010 saw RCB transform into a formidable batting side - at least when they’re not under pressure - and the fact that in IPL 2019, they still scored 165.07 runs per match despite finishing bottom spoke volumes about their steadfast batting line-up. The men largely responsible for the runs they scored were, of course, skipper Kohli (464) and AB de Villiers (442), and the trio comprising these two and Parthiv Patel accounted for 59.59% of the total runs scored by the team. Delhi is the only other side last season which saw the Top 3 contribute more.
With the addition of Australian skipper Aaron Finch, who recently became the second-fastest to 2000 T20I runs and averages 45 in his last 11 T20Is, this figure is only going to get more monstrous this season. Not only that, the coup of Finch, who has a career T20I strike-rate of 154.65 (!!!), coupled with the emergence of Padikkal, will also help the side bolster the numbers in the powerplay, which, last season, were only ‘okay’ by their standards - ranked 4th amongst 8 teams, scoring 49.69 on average.
However, the abnormal amount of runs scored by RCB’s top-order last season only masked the shortcomings of the middle-order - no RCB middle-order batsman scored over 250 runs and only two middle-order batsmen, in fact, passed three figures for the entire season. Heading into IPL 2020, RCB are incredibly thin on this front, once again, having let go of all three of Stoinis, Hetmyer, and de Grandhomme and having made no middle-order enforcements.
This effectively means that the duty of both run-accumulating and finishing will fall on the shoulders of Moeen Ali and Shivam Dube. Moeen did a fine job last season as a finisher, as is evident from his SR of 165.41 and RCB’s tally of 49.76 runs per game at the death, the third-highest of all teams, but Dube, who played only 4 games last season, would have to step up considerably to help his side tonk more sixes, particularly towards the death - their tally of 93 sixes was only the fourth-best in the competition.
Another candidate who could potentially club a few sixes towards the end is RCB’s new million-dollar recruit Chris Morris, but you imagine Kohli would much rather have him stopping teams from hitting sixes. For RCB are easily the worst bowling side in the entire competition. Last season, they conceded more boundaries per match (23.5) than any other team in the competition and they leaked a staggering 55 runs per match at the death, on average four runs per game more than any other team in the tournament. Thus it is understandable why their purchases - Morris, Isuru Udana, and the now-withdrawn Kane Richardson - revolved around specialist death bowlers. Ignoring the money paid for Morris, they’re all smart buys.
But it’s not like it was only RCB’s death bowling that stank. They were simply terrible with the ball in hand. The average runs they conceded per match (174.3) and the average runs they conceded in the powerplay (51.46) were both the second-worst in the competition. They also took just one wicket per game in the powerplay, again, a figure worsened by only Punjab.
Both Siraj and Umesh were largely culpable for these numbers, so despite the team retaining the duo, it could very well be possible that they turn to the duo of Steyn and Saini to do damage up-front. Steyn and Saini striking up-front could also have a domino effect on the number of wickets RCB take at the death as last season, in the last five overs, they managed just 2.15 wickets per game, the third-worst amongst all teams.
Also, last season, seamers (34) marginally edged spinners (31) in the number of wickets they took, but with Adam Zampa and Shahbaz Ahmed joining an already strong spin quarter of Moeen Ali, Yuzvendra Chahal, Washington Sundar, and Pawan Negi, spin might rule the roost for the Reds come IPL 2020.