Another year, another heartbreak for the Bangalore faithful, and Ee saala cup namde will have to be delayed for the 15th straight time. The boys from Bangalore made their third consecutive playoffs but, once again, could not make the most of it, as they fell to the Rajasthan Royals. So, the question remains: where and how exactly can Bangalore improve next season to cross that final hurdle and bring their scores of fans the trophy they have been waiting for.

What RCB start with: Faf du Plessis, Virat Kohli, Rajat Patidar, Glenn Maxwell, Player X, Dinesh Karthik, Shahbaz Ahmed, Harshal Patel, Wanindu Hasaranga, Josh Hazlewood, Mohammed Siraj

Player X – Tactics Board

  • Current Place Holder: Mahipal Lomror
  • Lomror’s future chances: Not bright, poor IPL numbers in general and only averaged 17 runs per wicket this season. Likely to be dropped back to the bench.
  • Skillset required: Strong hitter of pace bowling, preferably left-hander.
  • Indian/Overseas: Indian, as the four overseas spots are locked in du Plessis, Maxwell, Hasaranga, and Hazlewood.
  • Chances of getting a high-quality option at No.5: Very low

RCB’s bowling core should remain the same, considering their measured success in IPL 2022. The average runs conceded in the IPL by teams this season was 164.89; in comparison, RCB only gave away 163.38, making them an above-average bowling attack. Mohammed Siraj can not possibly have a worse campaign than he did this year, and his return to form will only improve the bowling attack further.

The main issue, however, lies in their batting unit, and it can be broken into two parts. Firstly, the powerplay batting is a major concern. With Faf and Kohli up the order, RCB has not been able to use the powerplay to their advantage and set up the foundation for high scores.

Of the 28 players who faced 80 balls or more in the powerplay in IPL 2022, RCB have 3 entries in the list of 10 slowest scorers in the phase: Anuj Rawat at No.2 (93), Faf du Plessis at No.6 (105), and Virat Kohli at No.10 (117).

Looking at Table 1, one can see their average powerplay score over the season was the second-lowest. It is further compounded in the middle overs when spin is introduced, which leads me to the second part.

Against spin, RCB’s average was the third-worst this season, and strike rate the second-worst, with only PBKS scoring at a lower rate. This disastrous record against spin and their weak powerplay scores almost always leave the lower middle order to do a big job towards the last few overs. This approach is not sustainable and was found out in Qualifier 2 as RCB could only make 28 runs in their last five overs against the Rajasthan Royals.

 Table 1: Average Powerplay Score by Team

TeamAverage Powerplay Score
Punjab Kings55.21
Delhi Capitals54.14
Rajasthan Royals50.24
Gujarat Titans46.25
Chennai Super Kings45.00
Mumbai Indians44.71
Lucknow Super Giants44.67
Kolkata Knight Riders43.57
Royal Challengers Bangalore43.50
Sunrisers Hyderabad42.14

Table 2: Average and Run-rate vs Spin by Team (Match 1-70)

Team Avg vs SpinRR vs Spin

Getting an attacking left-handed opening batter is their best solution to iron out this problem. But it only gets worse for Bangalore from this point because they can’t do much to improve these numbers significantly, courtesy of their auction strategy this year which has left them stuck with Faf du Plessis. The South African is set to stay on as captain despite a largely average season, Kohli is too big a brand to let go, and Maxwell and Patidar have been impressive in the last two seasons. The singular moveable piece from their current 11 seems to be Mahipal Lomror. 

Mahipal Lomror in IPL 2022: Mat – 5, Runs – 86, Avg – 17, SR – 151

With Hasaranga and Hazlewood delivering with the ball, Lomror can only be replaced with an Indian domestic player. And it is nearly impossible to get value from a non-international Asian batter in a role where his primary requirement is to strike at a high rate against pace.

If they decide to move Maxwell down the order to accommodate the domestic player in the top 4, it will hurt Maxwell’s batting returns.

  • Glenn Maxwell in Overs 17-20 in IPL: 371 runs at 21/177
  • Glenn Maxwell in Overs 7-13 in IPL: 1134 runs at 31/149

Maxwell is below par at the death, contrary to popular belief, and it is in the middle overs does he break games. So he has to bat at No.4. And RCB are aware of that as well. 

Budget issues and a potential major overhaul

Another challenge for Bangalore going into next season is their limited auction purse. While most teams will get into the auction with a minimum of 15 crores, Bangalore can only release some low-budget overseas backups and therefore will not have more than 8-10 crores to spend at the mini-auction, making them one of the teams with the lowest purse. 

Lastly, from a long-term perspective, RCB may have to completely overhaul their squad moving forward. Many of their key players are ageing, which makes finding young replacements necessary. Mumbai has done just that by bringing in younger players like Dewald Brevis, Tim David, and Tilak Varma. RCB may have to go down a similar path soon as Dinesh Karthik, Virat Kohli, and Faf du Plessis are getting older and will start regressing soon. 

There is where RCB’s auction strategy in 2021 may have, again, left them with very little room to manoeuvre. They could potentially be stuck in an endless cycle of good but not the best, wherein they make multiple playoff appearances like in the past without any significant success.

Why Glenn Maxwell should captain RCB

Their best solution to this could be to make Glenn Maxwell the captain. Considering the number of franchises they play with, most T20 captains rely on their coaching staff and analytics team to understand opposition strengths and weaknesses, so it doesn’t make much sense to waste a spot just because you need an experienced player as captain. With Faf as captain, the top order will always remain fixed, and RCB cannot get an attacking batter or a left-batter into their top 4. But if they release Faf, they could slot in Finn Allen or Sherfane Rutherford, two attacking players with immense potential.

Finn Allen is a player who has warmed the Bangalore benches for a couple of years now while lighting up other T20 leagues. He has consistently struck above 180 in powerplay overs for New Zealand, Lancashire, and Wellington. Even though playing against Indian spinners on Indian wickets is an entirely different ballgame, Allen already has the range to succeed, and with age on his side, he is only going to get better. 

The 23-year-old didn’t look out of depth in Bangladesh on decks where even established batters struggled to accelerate. 

  • Finn Allen vs spin in T20s: 382 runs at 32/163
  • Finn Allen vs spin in T20Is: 84 runs at 42/205
  • Finn Allen vs spin in Bangladesh T20Is: 44 runs at 44/176

Sherfane Rutherford, on the other hand, is more versatile, capable of playing at any position in the batting order, from No.1 to No.7. In the last couple of years, he has tasted some success in CPL, PSL, and T10. 

But these changes could be too radical for 2023. They will likely stick with Faf du Plessis as their captain and Kohli and Du Plessis as their opening pair. So, what can they do in that case? 

The opening pair seems to be a lost cause at this point, but the one positive for them is that despite being right-handers Patidar and Maxwell are amongst the league’s most destructive players of SLA and legspin bowling. They will have to hope the duo is in form, and Maxwell, in particular, takes better control of the middle overs than they did this season.

  • Rajat Patidar vs wrist spin & SLA in IPL since 2021: 132 at 44/165
  • Glenn Maxwell vs wrist spin in IPL since 2021: 188 runs at 47/186

All said and done, RCB have dug themselves a hole through their auction strategy wherein their team does not have a lot of potential to improve. Their overseas pieces are largely fixed, and their powerplay problems do not seem to have immediate solutions. Drastic changes are the need of the hour to add additional pieces to improve their top order. Or age, limited purse, and a lack of flexibility may leave Bangalore in an endless cycle of good but not great. 

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