It’s almost here folks. The biggest T20 league in the World, the IPL is about to get underway from April 07.
There are plenty of reasons to be excited about this year’s IPL, the most prominent being a complete shake-up of the squads as per the 10-year cycle.
While the systematic overhaul will enhance the competitiveness of the tournament, it will also help teams who have struggled in the past to get their combinations right and thus form a more potent unit.
One of the franchises that were clearly struggling with their team combinations last year was the Royal Challengers Bangalore. While the franchise has always boasted a famed batting order led by the likes of Kohli and de Villiers, they had serious holes to fill in the fast bowling department.
As a result, they had injected the likes of Umesh Yadav, Mohammad Siraj, Chris Woakes and Tim Southee.
On that note here’s a look at the probable XI RCB will field in their first match of IPL 2018.
#1 Brendon Mccullum
The former Kiwi skipper lit up the tournament in its inaugural game with a breathtaking 153 off 60 balls against the Royal Challengers Bangalore at the Eden Gardens.
Ten years later McCullum will represent the same franchise that he had pulverized into submission. A farrago of excruciating power-hitting and a calm head over his shoulders, McCullum would be an ideal foil at the top.
#2 Parthiv Patel (Wicket-keeper)
Joining McCullum at the top will be Parthiv Patel. Patel is a seasoned campaigner who has opened for successful franchises like CSK as well as the Mumbai Indians in the past.
Patel’s ability to play sparkling strokes during the powerplay was on full display last year where he churned out 395 runs across 16 innings at a blazing strike rate of 134.81. More importantly, Patel would bring his experience of keeping in crunch situations, something RCB has been missing in the past seasons.
#3 Virat Kohli (Captain)
The de-facto choice for the No.3 spot in the side is captain Virat Kohli.
An immaculate game-sense and astounding running between the wickets remains his prime arsenal while he can shift gears with ease as and when the situation demands.
#4 AB de Villiers
With an intrinsic quality to play shots all around the ground, de Villiers on his day can reduce the bowlers to a mere machine.
With Kohli at No.3, de Villers at five remains a perfect foil as both batsmen enjoy batting with each other, evident from numerous century partnerships, the highest being a 229-run assault of Gujarat Lions bowlers in the 2016 season of the IPL.
#5 Mandeep Singh
At No.5 comes the recipient of ‘Rising Star of the tournament’ in 2012, where he ended up as KXIP’s highest run-getter, Mandeep Singh.
Mandeep has been in good form in the domestic season, having accumulated 313 runs for Punjab at a strike rate of 149.76. Mandeep, with the kind of form he has displayed, can give stability to a batting order who has overwhelmingly revolved around the top four over the years.
#6 Colin de Grandhomme
A marauding, broad-shouldered batsman, and a handy medium-pace bowler, Colin de Grandhomme has all the requisite ingredients of a handy all-rounder.
With the Banglore pitch having shown signs of being slow and sluggish ever since it was re-laid in late 2016, Grandhomme’s subtle variations can come in handy for Kohli in case one of his main bowlers suffers an off day.
Apart from his bowling, Grandhomme can hit the ball a fair distance and can the role of a finisher as well.
#7 Chris Woakes
His red-ball game may have gone off the boiler in the past few months but there’s no doubt that Chris Woakes is one of the most improved all-rounders in limited overs cricket.
With his ability to bowl the death overs, a skill he so brilliantly displayed in the recently concluded ODI series against New Zealand, coupled with handy batting at the backend of the innings, Woakes might just turn out to be the go-to player for captain Kohli.
#8 Yuzvendra Chahal
While bowling on a ground as small as the Chinnaswamy stadium, Yuzvendra Chahal has developed into a wicket-taking bowler.
The guile and loop that he gives to the bowl have proceeded to fox batsmen all around the world especially against the power hitters.
#9 Washington Sundar
The teenage sensation has made heads turn with his consistent performances both in domestic as well as International cricket.
A classical off-spinner, Sundar’s biggest strength is his penchant for bowling the dirty (Read: Powerplay and death) overs. Sundar will resume his partnership with Chahal, a pair that had proceeded to create a stranglehold on the opposition in the recently concluded Nidahas Trophy.
#10 Umesh Yadav
The Vidarbha pacer has found himself on the sidelines from India’s limited overs scheme of things for good 12-15 months now and he’d have realized that the slide started when he went unsold in last year’s IPL.This IPL will be extremely important for Yadav This IPL will be extremely important for Yadav The Vidarbha pacer has found himself on the sidelines from India’s limited overs scheme of things for good 12-15 months now and he’d have realized that the slide started when he went unsold in last year’s IPL.
When on the song, Yadav with his smooth rhythm, beautiful action and an incisive base coupled with reverse+swing, is a treat to watch.
The 2018 edition of IPL promises to bring different challenges along the way for Yadav.
He will play under his national team’s skipper Virat Kohli, and in the absence of experienced Indian fast bowlers in the squad, he’d have to step up as the leader of the attack, adherence to which may pave way for a comeback into the white-ball setup again.
#11 Mohammed Siraj
The leading wicket-taker (23 at an average of 15.65) in the 2017-18 Vijay Hazare Trophy, Siraj has endured an abysmal start to his International career having been taken for plenty by the opposition batsman.
Having faced adversity, this IPL will be a test of the youngster’s temperament as a string of good performances would go a long way in establishing his credentials as a top-level bowler.