With just under 4 months to go until the start of the new season of the Indian Premier League and the recent conclusion of this year's auction, the squads have been finalised and each team now knows where they stand with respect to their squad composition and can go about building their ideal XIs.
One team which will be particularly interesting to watch is the Royal Challengers Bangalore. Having released 13 players before the start of the auction, everyone was on tenterhooks to see which players they would go hard for and which ones they would simply let slip through. All in all, their business at the auction seems to have proven that they have bought smarter than they have done in recent years and the squad is fairly promising. So, without further ad, let us look at some of the ways RCB could play next season:
1. The starters
First off, we have the line-up that RCB are most likely to play more or less throughout the tournament. Opening the batting are veteran wicketkeeper Parthiv Patel, who, despite his intermittent struggles, is still fairly dependable, and youngster Devdutt Padikkal, whose domestic form makes him almost impossible to ignore in this side.
The middle-order sees two ever-present faces in Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers, as well as the potential addition of Aaron Finch, who batted at number 5 during his time with the Gujarat Lions and the Kings XI Punjab. Indian all-rounders Shivam Dube and Washington Sundar will provide the finishing touches and they are ably backed up by new buy Chris Morris.
The bowling attack is likely to be spearheaded by another new recruit, Aussie quick Kane Richardson, who will have the likes of Morris and Umesh Yadav supporting him in the pace department and Yuzvendra Chahal and the aforementioned Sundar when it comes to spinners.
Playing XI: Parthiv Patel, Devdutt Padikkal, Virat Kohli, AB de Villiers, Aaron Finch, Shivam Dube, Washington Sundar, Chris Morris, Kane Richardson, Umesh Yadav, Yuzvendra Chahal.
2. Four overseas batsmen
In this team, Padikkal is partnered at the top by another young sensation, Aussie wicketkeeper Josh Philippe, whom RCB picked up at this year's auction for base price. As usual, Virat Kohli, AB de Villiers and Aaron Finch follow, making it a frightening middle-order, which is only bolstered by the presence of Moeen Ali, who can tonk the ball as well as provide good quality off-spin. Shivam Dube and Washington Sundar come in after him, making it a total of 4 lefties and 4 righties in the batting, thus ensuring that RCB could potentially always have a left-right combination in the middle, which always makes things tougher for bowlers.
However, the single drawback of this line-up is the bowling. While Umesh Yadav, Navdeep Saini and Yuzvendra Chahal are all good (in Chahal's case, excellent) exponents of the art of bowling individually, they don't seem to click as a group, which is precisely what RCB found out the hard way last season. While this eleven is potentially explosive, don't count on seeing it too often.
It just so happens that out of their 8 overseas players, RCB have exactly 4 batsmen. If the management decided to go into a game with the objective of out-batting the opposition, this is a potential playing eleven that could be named.
Playing XI: Josh Philippe, Devdutt Padikkal, Virat Kohli, AB de Villiers, Aaron Finch, Moeen Ali, Shivam Dube, Washington Sundar, Umesh Yadav, Navdeep Saini, Yuzvendra Chahal.
3. Three overseas bowlers
It is a fairly well-known fact that Virat Kohli loves his pacers and looks to attack with them as much as possible, even while captaining in the national team. It is no coincidence that the best crop of Indian speedsters has emerged under his stewardship and this could potentially extend to the IPL as well.
This is a fearsome, three-pronged pace attack, with Chris Morris, Kane Richardson and new recruit Isuru Udana all capable of bowling up front as well as at the death. Udana, in particular, is a crafty customer with his variations. This attack will be backed up superbly by Yuzvendra Chahal, Shivam Dube and Washington Sundar. While the batting does look a tad bit light (compared to the bowling at least), this line-up could be used in conditions where stroke-making is not particularly easy, so the bowlers will look to exploit opposition batsmen's weaknesses.
Playing XI: Parthiv Patel, Devdutt Padikkal, Virat Kohli, AB de Villiers, Shivam Dube, Washington Sundar, Chris Morris, Isuru Udana, Kane Richardson, Umesh Yadav, Yuzvendra Chahal.