Royal Challengers Bangalore were short on specialist death-over bowlers during the 2013 IPL season © IANS
By Bharath Ramaraj
Royal Challengers Bangalore retained three of their star players in the dashing knight Virat Kohli, the Jamaican marauder Chris Gayle and South Africa’s AB de Villiers oozing with class. So it means they want to build the side around their mainstays. Yet it opens up question marks over their bowling line-up. It is all good to have a batting line-up made up of sparkling stroke-makers but Bangalore need a few fine bowlers to deliver the knockout punch in the end overs.
R Vinay Kumar is one of them who can be retained through the ‘right to match’ option. There were occasions when he proved costly but Vinay Kumar has this uncanny ability to pick up wickets in the Indian Premier League (IPL). West Indian pacer Ravi Rampaul has brought that much needed aggression to Bangalore’s side bowling a few incisive spells upfront. He is another contender to be picked by Bangalore during the auction time. Yet it doesn’t solve their death overs bowling conundrum.
With Rajasthan Royals retaining James Faulkner, Bangalore have to go for the jugular and if available pick up Tim Southee. Arguably one of the most underrated death overs bowler going around, he can slip in the yorker, has a sharp bouncer and the off-cutter — the straightforward weapons that has held him in good stead. His New Zealand teammate Mitchell McClenaghan too is another fine pick as he is a left-armer and has enough variations up his sleeve to do well in the shortest format of the game. It is a boon to have a fine left-armer in Twenty20 (T20) cricket. Among Indian seamers, they may yet again look at Jaydev Unadkat as he is another left-arm seamer. Pankaj Singh bowls with decent control but can get predictable with his lengths.
With Daniel Vettori taking over the mantle of being the coach of Bangalore and veteran off-spinner Muttiah Muralithan well past the peak of his prowess, they need to look at spinning options too. KP Appanna isn’t going to give sleepless nights to too many batsmen. They may look at Pervez Rasool’s all-round abilities. The writer also likes the look of Shabhaz Nadeem. He is your modern day slow left-arm bowler who bowls with a flatter trajectory and good control. On his day a slow left-am bowler can be a gold dust in the T20 format.
Among the high profiles names in the batting line-up, Tillakaratne Dilshan may struggle to make the cut during the auction period. He has been too inconsistent during the last few seasons for Bangalore.
For Bangalore, the hard lesson they learnt last year was that with a flash of their bazooka willows the likes of Kohli, Gayle and de Villiers may make mountains of runs to leave the opposition bowlers baffled and dazzle the crowd. But the bravery and the dash of swashbuckling batsman may come to nothing if you don’t have the bowlers to back it up on good batting tracks.
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(Bharath Ramaraj, an MBA in marketing, eats, drinks and sleeps cricket. He has played at school and college-level, and now channelises his passion for the game by writing about it)