The Indian Premier League (IPL) is back in the news as the franchises have announced their retention lists. Several big names have been released by the teams, and it will be interesting to see who bids for them in the auction.
One side which has released several big names is Royal Challengers Bangalore. The Virat Kohli-led side let go of players like Brendon McCullum and Sarafraz Khan as they look set to create a completely different batting line up for the new season in their quest to win their first IPL title.
RCB have a settled bowling lineup with Umesh Yadav, Tim Southee, Yuzvendra Chahal forming a potent attack. Moreover, Nathan Coulter-Nile is back after missing the last season due to injury. They released Chris Woakes and Corey Anderson to cut the costs as they had bought the former for a massive price at last year’s mega-auction.
With the bowling attack more or less settled, it is quite certain that the Royal Challengers will place high bids on bankable batsmen at the auction table. RCB have 18.15 crore left in the purse and with South Africa's wicket-keeper batsman Quinton de Kock traded to three-time champions Mumbai Indians, the Bengaluru-based franchise would want to prioritize a top order wicketkeeper-batsman at the auction next month.
The Gary Kirsten-coached side will have an eye on the Indian wicketkeepers in particular, as most of the overseas wicketkeepers will not be available for the entire tournament because of the World Cup.
Here is a list of five players who may be on the top of the target list of the franchise at the all-important auction.
5. Shimron Hetmyer
The West Indies middle order batsman impressed everyone at the start of his career by leading the Caribbean side to the U19 World Cup title in 2016.
Hetmyer was impressive in the ODI series against India last month too, with a hundred in the first match followed by 94 in the second at impressive strike rates.
The Guyana batsman will be in demand at the auctions as a lot of teams may bid for him given the potential he has as an explosive middle order batsman.
The 21-year-old could be an excellent buy for RCB as he can be useful playing alongside the experience of AB de Villiers and Virat Kohli.
4. Manoj Tiwary
At No. 4 on our list is Manoj Tiwary. The Indian domestic circuit veteran can fit into the scheme of things very well for the three-time runners-up. With his rich experience, Tiwary can be an excellent addition to the middle order.
The Bengal captain has been a part of the Delhi Daredevils squad in the past. The year before last, he was a member of the Rising Pune Supergiant team which finished as runners-up to the Mumbai Indians, in the 2017 season.
Tiwary won the 2012 IPL with his home team Kolkata Knight Riders. He even hit the winning runs in the final against Chennai Super Kings.
Last season, he was a part of the Kings XI Punjab unit but couldn’t cement his spot in the side with a mere 47 runs to his name from five matches.
Given his experience as a middle-order batsman and with RCB in need of Indian middle order batsmen after releasing some of the local players, Tiwary could prove to be an excellent addition for RCB.
3. Gautam Gambhir
Gautam Gambhir made a return to his home franchise the Delhi Daredevils last season. But he quit the captaincy midway through the tournament and also dropped himself from the team. As a result, Gambhir was released by the franchise and will now go under the hammer.
The former India batsman was the skipper of the Kolkata Knight Riders from 2011 to 2017 and he led them to two IPL titles - in 2012 and 2014. He is also the fourth highest leading run scorer in the history of the tournament with over 4,200 runs in 154 matches.
Royal Challengers Bangalore may target Gambhir at the auction as the franchise would want to get an opening batsman. Gambhir can be a good addition to the side and can give some valuable leadership inputs to Virat Kohli as the team looks to win its first IPL title.
2. Yuvraj Singh
Kings XI Punjab have released a lot of players and will be looking to revamp their squad at the auction in Goa. One of the major high profile releases made by the franchise is that of Yuvraj Singh.
The 2011 World Cup winner made a return to his home franchise but wasn’t successful with just 65 runs to his name from eight matches. It was no surprise when KXIP announced that his name was on the released players list.
Yuvraj has been a part of several IPL teams in the past and was the highest paid player at the auctions in 2014 and 2015. He won the IPL with Sunrisers Hyderabad in 2017.
The veteran all-rounder will feature in the auction next month, and one of the few franchises that may target him is his former team Royal Challengers Bangalore.
Given Yuvraj's ability as an attacking batsman and a part-time bowler, RCB may bid for him. That said, his qualities have declined over the years so picking him could be a risk.
1. Aaron Finch
The topmost player in our list is Australian opener Aaron Finch. The experienced batsman has represented the most franchises in IPL history as he has played for seven IPL teams over the years, including defunct teams like Gujarat Lions and Pune Warriors India. He was a part of the title-winning campaign of the Mumbai Indians in 2015.
Finch is a proven name in T20 cricket and has represented a lot of teams in different leagues all over the globe. Last season he played for the Kings XI Punjab but failed to impress, with just 134 runs in 10 matches at a disappointing average of 16.75.
Although Finch may not be available for the latter stages of the tournament, he will still be a worthy buy for the Royal Challengers Bangalore. His value as an aggressive hitter at the top of the order cannot be overstated.