With only INR 8.75 crores in their coffers, RCB were never going to be fishing in the popular pond at this auction, having placed their trust in the core that led them to a third-straight playoff appearance. They did, however, make a couple of wise acquisitions, most notably the signing of England all-rounder Will Jacks for INR 3.2 crores.
Jacks, like Aussie veteran Glenn Maxwell, provides an attacking approach with the bat as well as a bowling alternative, especially if Wanindu Hasaranga is compelled to leave the campaign early due to Sri Lankan obligations.
After trading Jason Behrendorff to Mumbai Indians, the Royal Challengers were in desperate need of a quality backup left-arm seamer. Sure enough, they signed Reece Topley for INR 1.9 crores. The Englishman can swing the new ball, has gained a yard in speed, and has enough variety to cause batsmen a number of problems in the other phases of the game.
He can fill in for Josh Hazlewood if the Australian’s workload becomes an issue with his upcoming Ashes commitments. Surprisingly, RCB’s streak of playoff finishes has coincided with their separation from the Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bengaluru. How they handle the challenges of the small stadium could very well define their chances in the upcoming season.
This is especially important when one considers the fact that a few of their bowlers, including the likes of Mohammed Siraj and Harshal Patel, have shown a tendency to leak runs. The smaller dimensions of the Chinnaswamy Stadium might not do them any favours in that regard, but the Mike Hesson-led RCB management will take heart in the fact that Patel did exceptionally well in the previous two seasons, where he primarily bowled in grounds whose dimensions were not exactly huge, such as the Wankhede and the Sharjah Cricket Stadium. Patel was brilliant, as he used his change-of-pace deliveries to great effect, picking up more than 50 wickets in the two seasons combined.
Going into the mini-auction in Kochi on Friday, the RCB management did not exactly have a lot on their plate, having retained most of their side which helped them get to three successive knockout stage finishes. Their big purchases in the previous auction, such as Hasaranga, Harshal Patel and Faf du Plessis, have all worked very well.
Even the acquisition of Maxwell for a huge sum back in 2021, which was considered risky at the time owing to the player’s unconventional style of play, has worked fantastically, and therefore, his retention was an absolute no-brainer. The big revelations came in the form of Dinesh Karthik and Rajat Patidar, who were spectacular in the bygone season.
The only area where the Royal Challengers seem a little light is the middle order, where there are no obvious choices in terms of Indian batsmen to support Karthik. The acquisition of Jacks, however, could perhaps tackle this very problem.
This would, nevertheless, require the use of the Impact Player rule, something that RCB could potentially use to devastating effect with Topley, Finn Allen, and Jacks. The three-time finalists will require their bowling to fire, as Mohammed Siraj will play a huge part in deciding their fortunes. Hasaranga’s exploits with the bat and the ball could also make or break the Challengers’ season.
Predicted lineup for Mumbai Indians
Faf du Plessis, Virat Kohli, Rajat Patidar, Glenn Maxwell, Mahipal Lomror, Dinesh Karthik, Wanindu Hasaranga, Shahbaz Ahmed, Harshal Patel, Josh Hazlewood, Mohammed Siraj