We are currently approaching the middle-stage of the 12th edition of Indian Premier League (IPL). Barring Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB), all the other teams have opened their account in the points table. RCB have lost all of the four games they have played so far.
In the batting department, ever-dependable Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers are misfiring along with the newly recruited overseas star Shimron Hetmyer. RCB’s bowling woes need no introduction. If not for Yuzvendra Chahal, their bowling problems would have been much bigger.
With RCB now needing to win at least eight out of their remaining ten games to qualify for the playoffs, let us look at a powerful playing XI that can enhance their chances of finishing in the top four. The upcoming line-up will have nine batting options and eight bowling options.
#1 Parthiv Patel (WK)
Parthiv Patel, the Gujarat skipper, is perhaps the only in-form batsman for RCB right now. In four matches, he has scored 138 runs, with one half-century to his name. Besides, he is the current leading run-scorer for RCB and the only batsman from the franchise to feature in the top 10 run-getters list this season.
If not for the lone battle from Parthiv in the opening match of the season, RCB could have easily bundled out for even less than 50. Also, his 67 runs from 41 balls against Rajasthan Royals in the last match ensured his team got something to defend in the second innings.
#2 Marcus Stoinis
Marcus Stoinis, the Australian all-rounder, joined the team a few days ago and made his debut for RCB in their last encounter against RR. He made a decent contribution with the bat in that match by scoring 31 runs from 28 balls and stretched a 50+ partnership with Parthiv after three quick strikes from Shreyas Gopal.
Though Stoinis batted in the middle-order for RCB, he used opened the batting for Melbourne Stars in this year’s Big Bash League. In BBL 2018-19, he had scored 533 runs from 13 innings, with an impressive average of 53.30 and four half-centuries.
Since RCB have already experimented three different opening pairs in their four games, there is no wrong in trying this new combination for the next few games.
#3 Virat Kohli (C)
Virat Kohli is having a tough time in IPL 2019. His batting looks very ordinary and his captaincy skills are also being questioned. In four games, he has managed to score only 78 runs with a poor strike rate of 98.73. Besides, confusion in the batting order is causing trouble for both him and the team. In four games, he has opened the batting twice and batted at no.3 twice. Hence, a fixed batting slot (preferably no.3) can bring wonders for Kohli and his team. It is a matter of time for the Indian skipper to regain his magical touch with the bat.
#4 AB de Villiers
Just like every other season, plenty is expected from AB de Villiers. However, he has failed to meet the expectations thus far. In four games, the South African has managed to score only 93 runs, with 70 of those coming in a single match against the Mumbai Indians. Though he batted well against MI, he failed to guide the team to the finishing line. However, the day is not too far away for a player like ABD to return to his true form.
#5 Washington Sundar
Since Moeen Ali featured in the first four games, Washington Sundar had to warm the bench in those matches. With Ali failing to deliver, it is time for RCB to bring back Washington to the playing XI. Since Washington has the skills to bowl in the Powerplay, he can take wickets and control the run rate at the start of the innings.
Besides, he can contribute with the bat too as he regularly does for Tamil Nadu. However, for some unknown reasons, the RCB team management often overlooks Washington's batting skills. In fact, he can even open the batting and emulate the role of Sunil Narine (KKR).
#6 Shivam Dube
Shivam Dube had a rough start to his IPL career. In all of his three games, he was presented with the opportunity to be a hero for his team. However, he failed every time and managed to score only 16 runs with a poor strike rate of 94.11. Since this is Dube’s debut IPL season, he can be given few more chances to display his full skills to the cricketing world.
It is too much for Dube to play the role of a finisher in his debut season. If the team management needs experience in the middle-order, then Dube and Stoinis can exchange their positions in the batting line-up. In this case, Dube will have more deliveries to face with only two fielders outside the 30-yard circle for the first six overs.
#7 Nathan Coulter-Nile
Along With Stoinis, Nathan Coulter-Nile joined the team only a few days ago. However, he did not play in the last game. Coulter-Nile was supposed to be the leader of RCB's bowling attack in the previous season. However, an unfortunate injury ruled him out for the entirety of the last season.
A fit-again and in-form Coulter-Nile is an excellent asset to any team. He can hit long-balls in the end-overs, bowl in the Powerplay, bowl in the death overs and grab some excellent catches. Coulter-Nile’s presence can take some pressure off the shoulders of Chahal.
#8 Pawan Negi
Not too long ago, Pawan Negi fetched a whooping IPL contract of ₹8.5 crores in the auction. He even played a solitary T20I for India in 2016 against the UAE. Within a short period, he had seen both the highs and lows of cricket.
So far, Negi has not featured for RCB this season. With no desired results in the initial games, RCB can alter their strategy and include Negi in the playing XI for the upcoming games. Negi’s left-arm orthodox bowling can add a new flavour to RCB’s one-dimensional bowling attack. Besides, he can contribute to the team’s total with his batting skills.
#9 Tim Southee
Tim Southee, the New Zealand paceman had a poor IPL season last year. In eight matches, he claimed only five wickets with a poor strike rate of 34.80. Though Southee’s white ball skills have been under the scanner for the past few months, it is not wise to ignore him as he can regularly strike in the Powerplay. Besides, on his day, he can trouble any batsman with his brilliant variations in the death overs. Also, he can add few lusty blows with the bat during the slog overs.
#10 Yuzvendra Chahal
Ever since his debut for RCB in 2014, Chahal has been single-handedly carrying the team's bowling attack on his shoulders. It is not surprising that Chahal is the highest wicket-taker in the franchise’s history as he has taken 90 wickets from 73 matches with an economy rate of 7.68.
Just like every other season, Chahal continues to stand out from the rest of the RCB bowlers this term as he has already taken eight wickets from four matches with an economy rate of 6.56. Besides, he is the current ‘Purple Cap’ holder of this season.
#11 Mohammed Siraj
Mohammed Siraj is the only RCB bowler who is offering decent support to Chahal this season. In four games, he has taken four wickets with an economy rate of 7.57. Though the numbers look ordinary, the fact that he is the best among the rest of the bowlers (apart from Chahal) tells us the sorry story of RCB's bowling line-up this season. With Coulter-Nile and Southee in the line-up, Siraj can share the workload and bowl well in the upcoming games.