RCB had a great start to their IPL campaign last year, but their momentum fizzled out in the second half of the tournament. While Devdutt Padikkal, Virat Kohli, and AB de Villiers scored over 400 runs in the season, the other RCB batters failed miserably.
This year, though, RCB's squad looks better balanced and equipped to go all the way. They open their IPL 2021 campaign against defending champions Mumbai Indians in Chennai on 9th April. They will play their first three games at the Chepauk before shifting base to Mumbai for their next two games.
Virat Kohli's side will fly west to Ahmedabad to play their next four matches before ending their league campaign with five games at the iconic Eden Gardens in Kolkata. RCB will miss playing in front of their ardent fans in Chinnaswamy Stadium this time.
At the 2021 IPL auctions, they made a few smart purchases to bolster their squad. They went all guns blazing for Kyle Jamieson and Glenn Maxwell, for whom they shelled out Rs 15 and 14.25 crore, respectively. They also won the bidding war for veteran Australian all-rounder Dan Christian for Rs 4.8 crore.
RCB Squad for IPL 2021
Virat Kohli(c), AB de Villiers, Yuzvendra Chahal, Devdutt Padikkal, Navdeep Saini, Washington Sundar, Mohammed Siraj, Kane Richardson, Adam Zampa, Shahbaz Ahmed, Pavan Deshpande, Glenn Maxwell, Sachin Baby, Rajat Patidar, Mohammed Azharrudeen(wk), Kyle Jamieson, Daniel Christian, KS Bharat(wk), Suyash Prabhudesai, Finn Allen (wk).
Earlier, RCB's middle-order used to be overly dependent on AB de Villiers and Virat Kohli. But this time, the RCB management has made excellent buys at the auction and brought in quality international players like Maxwell and Dan Christian. The duo's presence in the middle order should ease some of the pressure on Kohli and De Villiers and allow them to express themselves more freely.
On that note, let us take a look at the best possible combination for RCB in the upcoming IPL season.
Virat Kohli(c) and Devdutt Padikkal
Virat Kohli has already announced that he will open the batting with Devdutt Padikkal in the upcoming IPL season. Last year Aaron Finch and Josh Philippe partnered with Padikkal, but both failed to create the desired impact. Now that RCB have a decent middle-order support cast for AB de Villiers, Virat Kohli has decided to promote himself to the opening slot.
Kohli at the opener's slot could be a boon for RCB, as that is where he has the best record while batting in the IPL. In 61 innings at the top of the order, he has scored 2345 runs at an impressive average of 47.86 and a strike-rate of 140.17, including a staggering five centuries and 15 fifties.
His highest IPL score - 113 against Punjab Kings (then called Kings XI Punjab) in 2016 - came while opening.
In comparison, at the no. 3 position, he has played 85 matches and scored 2696 runs at an average of 36.93 and a strike-rate of 123.84 with no hundreds. Without a doubt, Virat Kohli's stats at no. 3 pale when compared to that while opening.
Mohammed Azharuddeen and Finn Allen can be the back-up options for the opening role.
Mohammed Azharuddeen (wk), AB de Villiers, Glenn Maxwell and Daniel Christian
This season RCB possess a very destructive middle order.
AB de Villiers and Glenn Maxwell are arguably two of the most explosive T20 players today. If they get going in the middle, it will be carnival time for RCB and a nightmare for the opposition. Dan Christian and Mohammed Azharuddeen will round off the top 6.
Attacking Kerela player, Mohammed Azharuddeen is expected to keep wickets and bat in the star-studded RCB middle order.
Azaharuddeen came into the limelight by hitting a 37-ball 100 in this year's Syed Mushtaq Ali T20 Trophy. He scored his runs at an astounding strike-rate of 194.54 in the tournament. He now has the opportunity to showcase his skills on one of the biggest stages in the world.
Meanwhile, 37-year old Dan Christian is making a comeback into the RCB team after last representing them in 2013.
The power-hitting all-rounder was in red-hot form in the BBL 2020-21 season. His immense experience of playing in T20 leagues around the world could help RCB to overcome their perennial finishing woes.
Apart from having the ability to hit mighty blows with the bat, he is also a wily operator with the ball in the middle overs. Christian's presence should give a good balance to RCB's playing XI.
Kyle Jamieson, Washington Sundar, Navdeep Saini, Mohammed Siraj and Yuzvendra Chahal
Kyle Jamieson is likely to shoulder the pace bowling responsibilities for RCB along with Siraj and Navdeep Saini. Jamieson was bought for a hefty price at the auctions, so his performances will be under scrutiny in the upcoming season.
RCB are going to play five IPL 2021 games at the Eden Gardens, where the pitch usually offers some swing. The three talented pacers can exploit the conditions on offer and cause trouble to the opposition.
The usual suspects, Yuzvendra Chahal and Washington Sundar, will form the spin attack of the side. Chahal has been one of the leading wicket-takers in the IPL and a consistent performer for Royal Challengers Bangalore over the years. His wicket-taking ability in the middle overs could be crucial for his teams' fortunes this season.
Meanwhile, Washington Sundar is a versatile and economical off-spinner who can bowl at various stages of T20 games. Glenn Maxwell can also offer some part-time off-spin when his team may need him to.
Best XI: Virat Kohli (c), Devdutt Padikkal, Mohammed Azharuddeen (wk), AB de Villiers, Glenn Maxwell, Daniel Christian, Kyle Jamieson, Washington Sundar, Navdeep Saini, Mohammed Siraj, Yuzvendra Chahal.