Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) had a decent run in the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2021. They reached the playoffs before going down to Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) in the Eliminator. Like Mumbai Indians (MI) and Chennai Super Kings (CSK), RCB also struggled to retain players. In the end, they went for Virat Kohli (Rs 15 crore), Glenn Maxwell (Rs 11 crore), Mohammed Siraj (Rs 7 crore).
RCB were keen on retaining leg-spinner Yuzvendra Chahal as well, but the franchise could not work out the financial aspects with the bowler. The other big-name RCB released were Devdutt Padikkal, Harshal Patel and Kyle Jamieson. Since the franchise retained only three players, they have a purse of Rs 57 crore left for the mega auction. Keeping in mind the same, we look at five players RCB could target at the auction in January.
One big purchase: Liam Livingstone (10-12 crore)
Agreed, Liam Livingstone did not have a great IPL 2021. He scored only 42 runs in five matches for Rajasthan at a strike rate of 102.43. However, the fact is that the 28-year-old is one of the most destructive batters in the T20 format at present. He has a strike rate of 165.78 in T20Is and 144.73 and in all of T20 cricket. Livingstone can bat anywhere in order and can charge the bowlers. His big-hitting skills have been evident in various T20 leagues.
He has displayed impressive form in the Abu Dhabi T 10 as well, captaining Team Abu Dhabi. Livingstone can score runs all over the park, which makes him an extremely dangerous batter. That’s not all. He is also a handy bowler who can deliver both off-spin and leg-spin with equal ease. Livingstone’s all-round skills will make him a big draw at the auction.
Elite purchases: Jason Holder, Devdutt Padikkal (6-8 crore)
Former West Indies captain Jason Holder is a highly underrated cricketer in the T20 format. He can win games with both bat and ball. And it was a massive surprise when he wasn’t picked in the original T20 World Cup squad, coming in as a replacement for the injured Obed McCoy. Holder was among the few bright spots for Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH) in IPL 2021. He played only six matches but claimed 16 wickets at an economy rate of 7.75 and an average of 15.43. Not only with the ball, but Holder also played a few cameos with the bat as well, which were significant to SRH’s cause. A high-quality all-rounder.
RCB could have retained opener Devdutt Padikkal as their fourth player, but they decided to pick only three players because they wanted a bigger purse for the mega auction. There is no reason why RCB wouldn’t look to try and purchase Padikkal at the mega auction. After all, he was the emerging player in IPL 2020 for hammering 473 runs in 15 matches. This season, he was in decent form, cracking 411 runs in 14 games. Definitely one for the future.
Decent purchases: Ambati Rayudu, Shakib Al Hasan (2-4 crore)
He may be 36, but Ambati Rayudu has not passed his prime yet. He played a few crucial knocks during CSK’s IPL 2021 campaign. Rayudu ended the season with 257 runs in 16 games at a strike rate of 151.17. He smacked a terrific 72, not out off only 27 balls in the first half of IPL 2021 against MI. It deserved to come in a winning cause but didn’t. If utilized smartly, Rayudu can be a match-winner with the bat.
RCB would be desperate for a replacement for Chahal. However, not too many quality spinners can match his guile. Hence, Bangalore could opt for left-arm spinner Shakib Al Hasan, who can also contribute with the bat. Shakib can open the bowling and send down his four overs at a stretch, and he can come up with the big hits as well with the willow. Not a bad choice given his experience and all-round prowess.