Can RCB shed tag of top-heavy underperformers?

They are backing established Indian domestic players like Mahipal Lomror and Siddarth Kaul to add heft to their international stars

Shashank Kishore
Shashank Kishore

Where they finished in 2021

RCB finished third in the league phase, before losing to a resurgent Kolkata Knight Riders in the Eliminator. It was RCB's second straight playoffs finish.

Potential first XI

1 Faf du Plessis, 2 Anuj Rawat, 3 Virat Kohli, 4 Glenn Maxwell, 5 Mahipal Lomror, 6 Dinesh Karthik, 7 Wanindu Hasaranga, 8 Harshal Patel, 9 Shahbaz Ahmed/Karn Sharma, 10 Mohammed Siraj, 11 Josh Hazlewood

Player availability

The newly wed Glenn Maxwell will miss at least the first two games, while Josh Hazlewood is set to miss the first three matches due to Australia commitments. RCB can choose between the firepower of Finn Allen or Sherfane Rutherford to plug the Maxwell void.
Allen offers them big-hitting ability at the top of the order. He has a T20 strike rate of 175.65 across 51 matches. Rutherford, meanwhile, can be used as a finisher, a role he played, albeit sparingly, for Delhi Capitals three years ago. He has a decent body of work in T20 cricket lately, being a key player in the St Kitts & Nevis Patriots team that was crowned CPL 2021 champions. He was their second-highest run-getter with 262 runs at a strike rate of 127.18.


For a long time now, RCB have tended to be top heavy. Season after season, they try to plug gaps, but the more they've tried to change, the more they've remained the same. Last year, they looked to plug the middle-order gap with Rajat Patidar and KS Bharat. This time around, they will need Mahipal Lomror and Suyash Prabhudessai - both established domestic names now - to fire and take the pressure off Maxwell and Dinesh Karthik.
At the top, they don't have the calming presence of Devdutt Parikkal anymore. But in Anuj Rawat, all of two games old in the IPL, they have a player with potential. Can he translate that into performance? RCB appear to be keen on giving him a long rope as an opener alongside du Plessis, with a freed-up Kohli set to bat at three.


Mohammed Siraj, one of RCB's three retentions ahead of the auction, will have the new-ball responsibilities and Harshal Patel, among their costliest auction picks, will be their death-overs weapon. Harshal's career graph has skyrocketed following a record-equalling 32 wickets in IPL 2021.
In the spin department, Yuzvendra Chahal's void will be filled by Wanindu Hasaranga, who also offers some lower-order batting depth in addition to his deceptive legspin. Karn Sharma is an able back-up for Hasaranga should they need a local option for the sake of team balance.
Incidentally, Karn was first signed by RCB in 2009 as a rookie pick outside the auction. Since then, he's been part of IPL title-winning campaigns with Mumbai Indians, Sunrisers Hyderabad and Chennai Super Kings.
Shahbaz Ahmed also offers them all-round depth and the ability to be a floater in the batting line-up. In Siddarth Kaul and CV Milind, they have experienced local Indian pace reinforcements. Both Kaul and Milind have been consistent performers for Punjab and Hyderabad in domestic cricket for a long time now.

Young players to watch out for

Keeper-batter Anuj Rawat's formative years in Delhi clashed with those of Rishabh Pant, who has gone on to establish himself as India's No. 1 keeper across formats. Two truncated domestic seasons haven't helped, and Rawat is trying to make up for lost time. Still only 22, Rawat is an exciting top-order stroke-maker who has been backed to open. He's been a part of the IPL for three seasons with Rajasthan Royals, without much game time. This could be the opening he was looking for.
Nicknamed "Junior Gayle" by Chandrakant Pandit, the renowned domestic coach, Mahipal Lomror used to toy with age-group attacks in Rajasthan along with his best friend Rishabh Pant. After the Under-19 World Cup in 2016, where both featured an India line-up that finished runners-up, their paths diverged. While Pant soon graduated to play for India, Lomror has had to go back to the drawing board in domestic cricket. After years of being in the fringes and a middle-order back-up at Royals, Lomror has an opportunity to step it up.

Coaching staff

Mike Hesson (director of cricket), Sanjay Bangar (head coach), Sridharan Sriram (batting and spin coach), Adam Griffiths (bowling coach), Malolan Rangarajan (fielding coach)

Poll question

Shashank Kishore is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo