RCB: Make Badri Open, Abdullah for Spin
RCB made a bunch of stats in their victory against KKR on Saturday night. To name a few:
- RCB’s first win vs. KKR since exactly two years ago.
- First time RCB has beaten KKR in their first match of the season (out of 3 such encounters).
- RCB’s first win in Eden Gardens since 22nd April 2011.
- End of KKR’s 10-match winning streak – best for any team in the IPL.
- End of KKR’s 6-match winning streak at Eden Gardens.
- Chris Gayle’s first IPL fifty since 2013.
However, amidst the jubilation of the victory, I found some things about the RCB side that worried me. The fielding is not my problem; every team has it’s off days, and no team that has AB de Villiers and Virat Kohli on the field at once can have a bad fielding tag for long. What troubled me most was the batting. Let me clarify; what troubled me most was the reckless nature of RCB’s batting that made it look like RCB was chasing 240, and not 170-odd. Mandeep Singh followed up a lovely straight six with such an ugly reverse-sweep (which he obviously failed to connect, with the result of his stumps being uprooted) that even he probably had no idea why he played that. AB de Villiers had taken 16 off KC Cariappa’s second over, but still ran down the track on the sixth delivery to get stumped. Darren Sammy, the last recognized batsman left to make a partnership with Gayle, walked down the pitch to play a blind hoick off Shakib al Hassan, only to be stumped as well. This approach further weakens RCB in the fact that they are going with the same shallow batting lineup as they did last year – Gayle, <Indian opener>, Kohli, de Villiers, <reputed Indian batsman>, <hard-hitting all-rounded>, 5 bowlers. This lineup can work, but for the way things have turned out for RCB, I think it’s too shallow. To remedy both of these, here’s what I think they should do. They should bring Subramaniam Badrinath in. Badri is a stable batsman, who can play solid innings with composure. More than once he has rescued CSK – his former team – from sticky situations, and could do the same for RCB. I feel that he would do a great job opening, as his stable nature could allow for partnerships to build at the top of the order, reducing the pressure on men like Virat Kohli, AB and Dinesh Karthik. He will probably come in at Mandeep Singh’s expense, although leaving out a bowler and shortening the tail would not be a bad idea.
And speaking of bowling, there is another issue I wanted to address: spin bowling. RCB’s spin bowling has been utterly neglected, to say the least. They have a total of 3 full time spinners, and none of them are capped. Past evidence suggests that the Chinnaswami pitch has some aid for spinners, as guys like Rahul Tewatia of RR, Shivam Sharma and Karanveer Sing of KXIP, and Karan Sharma of SRH have reaped great rewards here. Hence, I feel that RCB should give Iqbal Abdullah a chance. If he could pair with Yuzvendra Chahal and produce a strong spin pair, I think it would be invaluable for the Challengers, who have historically struggled with their bowling. Dropping one of their 3 Indian quicks might be the answer, but I really liked how all of them bowled on Saturday (barring those last overs against Russell) for the most part, and I doubt that RCB will drop any of them soon. Still, I think that they should seriously consider it.