On RCB's radar: back-up overseas seamer and Indian top-order batter

They released just five players earlier and have only INR 8.75 crore to spend at the auction

Hemant Brar
Hemant Brar
Will RCB find a new opener to accompany Faf du Plessis or will Virat Kohli continue at the top?  •  BCCI

Will RCB find a new opener to accompany Faf du Plessis or will Virat Kohli continue at the top?  •  BCCI

Who they've got
After making the playoffs in 2022 - they lost to Rajasthan Royals in Qualifier 2 - Royal Challengers Bangalore retained their core and released just five players, the fewest among all teams. No-one from the released players was a regular in their first XI.
Current squad: Faf du Plessis (capt), Virat Kohli, Finn Allen, Rajat Patidar, Glenn Maxwell, Mahipal Lomror, Shahbaz Ahmed, Anuj Rawat, Suyash Prabhudessai, Dinesh Karthik, Wanindu Hasaranga, Harshal Patel, David Willey, Karn Sharma, Mohammed Siraj, Josh Hazlewood, Siddarth Kaul, Akash Deep
What they have to play with
Releasing only five players means they also have the second-lowest purse for the auction, of INR 8.75 crore (USD 1 million approx.). Only Kolkata Knight Riders (INR 7.05 crore) have a smaller purse. Royal Challengers can acquire seven more players, of which two can be from overseas.
What they need
  • Having traded Jason Behrendorff to Mumbai Indians, Royal Challengers would be looking for an overseas seamer as a back-up for Josh Hazlewood. Also on their radar would be an Indian top-order batter. If they can find someone to open with Faf du Plessis, Virat Kohli can move down to No. 3, a slot he bats at in T20Is.
  • Mohammed Siraj didn't have a great season last time, registering an economy rate of 10.07 from 15 games. And even though Siddarth Kaul had a chart-topping Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy recently, Royal Challengers may go after a couple of Indian seamers. Apart from that, they may try to acquire an Indian spinner to accompany, or work as a back-up for, Wanindu Hasaranga.
  • The likely targets
    Nathan Coulter-Nile, Jhye Richardson, Adam Milne and Reece Topley are among their first-choice options for the back-up overseas seamer's slot. They had signed Coulter-Nile before the 2018 season as well, and then retained him in 2019, but he didn't play for them because of injuries.
    Mayank Agarwal could be at the top of their wish list of Indian top-order batters. However, Royal Challengers' small purse size may come in the way. Before the 2022 season, Agarwal was retained* by Punjab Kings for INR 12 crore, and this time, too, he should be in demand. That means teams such as Sunrisers Hyderabad (purse size INR 42.25 crore) and Punjab Kings (INR 32.2 crore) can easily outbid Royal Challengers. More realistically, they could target N Jagadeesan, who can keep wicket too.
    Among Indian seamers, Ishant Sharma, Vaibhav Arora, Ishan Porel, Shivam Mavi and Arzan Nagwaswalla are some of their options. For spinners, they have got Shreyas Gopal, Mayank Markande and M Ashwin to pick from.
    *10.30am GMT: The sentence was corrected to say Agarwal was retained, not bought, by Kings in 2022

    Hemant Brar is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo