Royal Challengers Bangalore have added key overseas players this IPL season, but who should get a run-in in the starting XI? We assess.
Royal Challengers Bangalore have undergone some fundamental changes among the support staff, with Mike Hesson hired as director and Simon Katich made head coach ahead of this year's Indian Premier League. Sridharan Sriram and Adam Griffith also come in to bolster their specialist coaches list. A revamped RCB should prove to be threatening this season as their squad itself was never short of firepower. They have added key overseas players this season and although the availability of some England and Australia players at the start is doubtful, on a more regular basis, these four players should start regularly for RCB this IPL season.
Overseas players: Aaron Finch, AB de Villiers, Chris Morris, Moeen Ali, Josh Philippe, Adam Zampa, Dale Steyn, Isuru Udana
The Australian skipper is one of the most sought-after T20 openers in the world with his explosive starts even forcing David Warner to play second-fiddle. Finch was an interesting choice by RCB given that they already had AB de Villiers and Virat Kohli in the top-order. That said, the reason RCB wanted Finch is perhaps to take some pressure off Kohli and de Villiers. With Finch opening alongside Devdutt Padikkal or Parthiv Patel, the two regular stalwarts are left to handle the middle-order role alongside Moeen Ali and Shivam Dube.
A terrific spin hitter, Moeen Ali breaks a trend in the RCB middle-order by adding some left-handed power to take down leg-spinners, a job Shivam Dube couldn't quite fulfil last season. A handy off-spinner too who can be used for match-ups, Moeen Ali will likely be the sixth bowler in the setup. The England batsman could even be used to step in at no.4 to break the Kohli - de Villiers pair and split their strengths across different phases. He is likely to play whenever he is available for this very reason, particularly since the UAE pitches take turn and Moeen is both a spinner and an exceptional player of spin.
Royal Challengers Bangalore have a major decision to make in choosing between Dale Steyn and Chris Morris. Both gun-fast bowlers who can deliver across phases, Morris pips the legendary Steyn because of his batting ability and the knack of bowling searing yorkers in the death, an area RCB have often fallen short. Morris lends balance to the RCB line-up and can not only cover for the middle-order batsmen and finish off innings but also step in to partner Navdeep Saini in the last few overs. How he is used this season could be key to RCB's fortunes.
AB de Villiers
It is perhaps time AB de Villiers is given Indian citizenship. The South African star has been an evergreen presence in the IPL and has rocked the league several times before. His crucial camaraderie with Virat Kohli will once again be the area where RCB pin their hopes on. Although he might have additional wicket-keeping duties this year, it is likely that de Villiers will be given a lot more freedom to play a free hand in the middle given that RCB have bolstered their batting around him with new resources.
Feature image courtesy: AFP / Manjunath Kiran