The Virat Kohli-led Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) could bid for Australian stars Steve Smith and Glenn Maxwell during the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2021 auction on Friday. With INR 35.9 crore in their kitty, the Bangalore franchise has the second-highest purse in the tournament for this auction.
RCB squad ahead of the IPL 2021 Auction
Indian players: Virat Kohli (c), Devdutt Padikkal, Yuzvendra Chahal, Washington Sundar, Navdeep Saini, Mohammed Siraj, Shahbaz Ahmed, Harshal Patel, Pavan Deshpande
Overseas players: AB de Villiers (wk), Joshua Philippe (wk), Adam Zampa, Kane Richardson, Daniel Sams
RCB have 11 slots to fill, which includes three overseas picks.
Can Steve Smith fit into RCB?
If Steve Smith were to be picked up, RCB would have three of the current generation’s finest batters in their line-up - Virat Kohli, Steve Smith, and AB de Villiers. But RCB will be more concerned about their barren IPL trophy cabinet than their brand value.
With Aaron Finch released and Parthiv Patel retired, RCB will eye a solid top-order batsman. Steve Smith’s presence can provide Virat Kohli with a cushion of dependability in the middle-order and he would be able to bat more freely alongside Devdutt Padikkal as the opener.
It’s at the opening slot where Kohli has been at his lethal best. Steve Smith’s presence also takes away over-dependence from ABD.
Steve Smith’s IPL strike rate hovers around the 130-mark. Is it good enough in the modern age? The counterargument could be that Smith is playing more freely, having been relieved of the captaincy burden, and this could turn out to be an asset.
During the limited-overs leg of India’s tour of Australia, Steve Smith smashed back-to-back 62-ball hundreds against a bowling attack that comprised Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami and Yuzvendra Chahal.
The former Australian captain also smashed a century for New South Wales against Victoria in the Marsh Cup List A match on Monday, serving another reminder to the IPL franchises. Steve Smith smacked six sixes in his 124-ball 127.
If not Steve Smith, the other name that RCB could eye is Dawid Malan, the no.1-ranked T20I batsman. The England batsman has no IPL experience and didn’t have a great run in the BBL. However, Malan’s presence could help the RCB get more creative and flexible with the approach as he can be floated as an opener or at no.3.
Trivia: Steve Smith was a part of the RCB setup during the 2010 edition. However, the then 20-year-old leg-spinner all-rounder didn't get to play a game.
Can Glenn Maxwell finally find his home at RCB?
For all his reputation and ability, Glenn Maxwell hasn’t set the IPL stage on fire. Every year he pockets a hefty sum and creates a balloon of hype, before it all fizzles away.
However, despite a poor IPL 2020, he returned strongly against India in the ODIs, helping Australia win the series 2-1.
Maxwell is too big a name to go unsold. RCB will need to fill in the finisher’s void left by the released Moeen Ali and Chris Morris. The Victorian all-rounder carries an even bigger reputation than Ali and Morris. Smaller boundaries and good batting surfaces at the Chinnaswamy Stadium may end up suiting Maxwell's play in the IPL.
In Virat Kohli, he will have a captain who will give him the license to express himself. Maxwell’s presence will also help reduce the pressure on Kohli and AB de Villiers during crunch IPL matches.
Shakib Al Hasan is another option RCB may look at. But for him to be truly effective, he will have to bat up the order, and they are already a top-heavy unit.
RCB have excellent domestic bowling options in Mohammed Siraj, Navdeep Saini, Yuzvendra Chahal, Washington Sundar, Harshal Patel and Shahbaz Ahmed. To add to the variety, they also have Adam Zampa, Kane Richardson and Daniel Sams. They may look at buying Chris Morris at a lesser price or an all-rounder like Cameron Green to fill in for Shivam Dube.
With more local talent present as bowlers, an overseas players slot would be freed up at the top of the order. RCB's top five may just end up looking like this – Devdutt Padikkal, Virat Kohli (c), Steve Smith, AB de Villiers (wk) and Glenn Maxwell.