IPL 2023 Royal Challengers Bangalore Preview
RCB made it 3 playoff appearances in a row in last season's IPL but they've failed on each occasion to make it to the final. We preview their chances of going one better in 2023.
RCB Review of IPL 2022
After a good start to IPL 2022, RCB suffered a bit of a mid-season wobble before winning 3 of their last 4 games to secure the final playoff place. They took that form into the eliminator match and despatched LSG coutersey of a maiden IPL century by Rajat Patidar who was one of many local talents who impressed for RCB last year and will be hoping to continue in 2023.
As the below stats show, RCB generally made conservative starts to their innings with the aim of maintaining wickets for later on. It was noticeable that this was generally the ploy of all the teams that made it through to the playoffs last year with only Gujarat and Rajasthan losing fewer wickets in the powerplay than RCB did.
That being said, RCB will need to be a little more dynamic while the fielding restrictions are in place this year especially as the pitches on some of the venues that they play on throughout the 2023 tournament might well be slower than those used in IPL 2022 were.
The conditions in 2022 were perfect for RCB to catch-up throughout the middle and death overs with the likes of Dinesh Karthik and Glenn Maxwell particularly effective during the final 5 overs of innings.
With ball in hand, it was RCB's lack of penetration in the powerplay that was most conerning. Mohammed Siraj took just 9 wickets throughout the tournament, 5 of which came while the fielding restrictions were in place. Harshal Patel and Josh Hazlewood faired better and most of their wickets came during the middle portion of the innings. In combination with Wanindu Hasaranga who himself took 26 wickets at a strike rate of 13, it meant that RCB kept themselves in matches despite their struggles at either end.
With Shabaz Ahmed and Glen Maxwell in the side, RCB also had plenty of possibilities for potential match-ups not to mention good depth in their bowling and batting, something that they'll hope to emulate in 2023.
RCB IPL 2023 Auction
RCB bid on quite a few of the high value players during the auction, including Cameron Green, Sam Curran, Ben Stokes and Harry Brooks but the reality was that they were never likely to have the pursue to get those deals over the line.
Instead, RCB made some smart acquisitions at significantly lower cost by bringing in Reece Topley whose left-arm action will provide back-up/competition for Josh Hazlewood. Topley is joined by fellow England and Surrey man, Will Jacks who is an emerging talent on the world stage. Jacks is likely to provide back-up for Glen Maxwell who missed almost all of the domestic season in Australia with a leg break.
RCB were also keen to bring in some experience at the top of the order and bid for both Agarwal and Manish Pandey. That they failed to secure either is not the end of the world provided a few of the youngsters in their team can continue to deliver.
Otherwise, RCB signed a variety of relative unknowns from the domestic circuit. There is some excitement around Avinash Singh who can bowl at 150+ kmph but he has played just a handful of professional matches and it'd be a surprise if he or any of the other acquisitions came close to a breaking into the starting XI in IPL 2023.
RCB Predicted XI IPL 2023
RCB's most probable starting 11 for IPL 2023 looks likely to be very similar to last year's.
Du Plessis and Kohli will more than likely open the batting for Bangalore. However, as noted above, both players struggled to really get the side off to a flying start and that is something for RCB to ponder coming into IPL 2023 where pitch conditions will be more variable than they have been in any of the last 3 tournaments.
The above shows Powerplay statistics in IPL 2022. Kohli and Du Plessis faced over half the powerplay deliveries between them for RCB in last season's IPL but neither was able to capitalise on the field restrictions
On the bench, RCB do certainly have some options who could come in during the powerplay and look to accelerate the scoring. Finn Allen has been at the franchise for a couple of seasons but is yet to play. The 23-year-old Kiwi has an incredible strike rate of over 170 in T20 cricket. Granted that has been achieved on the truer surfaces and smaller playing areas of his native New Zealand but he'll be keen to show his striking ability in the world's biggest franchise league.
Equally, Will Jacks has a career strike rate just shy of 160 and has debuted for England in all 3 formats during the last 6 months. He can also bowl some handy off-spin and I do think that either he or Allen could be a credible option for RCB on slower wickets where they need to make full use of the powerplay before the spinners come in and strangle the game.
Rajat Patidar was the hero for RCB in their eliminator match against LSG last season, striking a magnificent 112 not out in what was just his 11th IPL appearance. At 29-years-old the right hander has plenty of experience at domestic level and the runs for his native Madhya Pradesh to suggest that he isn't going to be just a one season wonder. In a country where young cricketing talent is abundant, Patidar's struggle to the top in some ways mirrors that of Suryakumar Yadav who had to force his way into India's reckoning on weight of runs alone.
Patidar was called up to the ODI squad earlier this year as cover for the injured Shreyas Iyer and he'll be hoping that he can keep his hat in the ring for further honours by delivering more runs in IPL 2023.
Glenn Maxwell has travelled to India with the Australia ODI squad for the series that takes place just ahead of IPL 2023. The all-rounder did manage a rare appearance for Victoria in the Sheffield Shield at the end of last month as he bids to prove his fitness.
Assuming he can play, then it'll be interesting to see where Maxwell comes into bat for RCB this season. He finished with the 4th highest strike rate of IPL 2022 (min 100 balls faced) but only faced 178 deliveries across the entire season. That is contrast to 2021 when he faced exactly double that number of balls and recorded 6 half centuries.
Part of the reason that Maxwell may find himself shunted down the order again this year is because, RCB remain very right-hand heavy in their top order. In fact, all the batting options listed to date are right-handers which does leave them vulnerable to unfavourable match-ups from opposition bowling attacks.
To combat that, RCB have often used Shahbaz Ahmed up the order. The left-hander played in all 16 matches for Bangalore last season and his performances in the IPL plus his record in domestic cricket more generally, lead to him winning 3 caps for India's ODI team last autumn.
Mahipal Lomror, another left-hander, also made an impact for RCB towards the end of last season. His move from his native Rajasthan saw him make 7 appearances in 2022, more than in any other IPL season to date and the former U-19 star looks primed to play an important part in RCB's bid to win a first title in 2023.
RCB do also have some bench strength with Anju Rawat and Suyash Prabhudessai both showing glimpses of their potential last season. While the other impressive factor in RCB's squad is the number of all round options they have with potentially up to 4 of the top 6 batsmen being able to contribute with the ball.
Dinesh Karthik Death Over stats IPL 2022 - Karthik scored more runs at the death last season than any other batsmen
That leaves Dinesh Karthik to play in his favoured finisher role and the 37-year-old showed no signs of a decreasing prowess in that regard with his personal record in the final 5 overs one of the main reasons that RCB lead the way at the death with bat in hand.
All of the batsmen for RCB but particularly the big hitters, will be relishing the chance to play IPL at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium again. The stadium has a reputation for high scoring and 6 hitting, sitting as it does just shy of 1000m above sea level. The role then of Karthik and Maxwell will be crucial again for RCB this year and the likely conditions at home only further point to the need for RCB to get a player like Jacks or Allen in at the top of the order too.
Bowling wise, Wanindu Hasaranga will look to do what he always does in T20 cricket and take wickets. His recent performances for Sri Lanka have just inched him ahead of fellow wrist spinners Rashid Khan and Adil Rashid at the top of the ICC rankings and of course all 3 players plus a host of other slow bowling talent will be vying for the top spot in IPL 2023. He's also no mug with the bat as we most recently saw in the final of the International League T20 tournament in Dubai where he struck 55 from just 27 balls.
Harshal Patel will do a significant amount of bowling outside the powerplay and towards the back end of the innings with his change up deliveries. He wasn't quite able to recapture his wicket taking form of 2021 where everything he touched seemed to turn to gold but his 19 wickets last season put him 4th overall among seamers in 2022.
Mohammed Siraj was one of the big disappointments last season as he took just 9 wickets in 15 matches and went at an economy of over 10 an over. He should be most effective in the powerplay looking to extract any signs of early movement but if there isn't any then he does become a bowler that opposition batsmen will target given his lack of variety. He bowled 11 overs at the death last year and went at over 13 runs an over, the worst economy of any bowler to bowl more 8 overs or more during that period of the game.
Akash Deep's Ranji Trophy stats for 2022/23. He took more wickets than any other seamer in the competition
It might be that RCB are tempted to drop Siraj in favour of Akash Deep who played in 5 games last season. Since then, he's picked up a significant number of wickets for Bengal, an achievement that saw them make the final of the Ranji Trophy last month.
Josh Hazlewood has been a key part in multiple IPL side's bowling attacks of late. Despite lacking the variations of some of his peers, his methodology is simple yet effective - I'm going to bowl a hard length at the top of off-stump, you try and knock me off it - many batsmen continue to fail the challenge. Reece Topley meanwhile offers more than just a back-up option with his left-arm action adding an extra dimension to an already varied bowling attack.
RCB IPL 2023 Predictions
RCB have a nice blend of experience and youth while their overseas stars complement their home grown talent. In many ways it is the core of uncapped Indian cricketers that tend to make the difference across the season with the big name players that every franchise possesses largely cancelling each other out.
On that front, RCB have been giving chances to a group of young cricketers for a number of seasons in the expectation that it would pay off later down the road. Could this be the season that it does? I certainly think it could when you look at the depth and options they have available to them.
Maxwell's return to fitness will be key and assuming that he is available to play then unlike several of their competitors, it appears that RCB will head into the 2023 season without a major injury disrupting their preparations. Even if they do suffer setbacks during the campaign they have options available to them that many of the other franchises do not.
I'd like to see RCB give a player like Will Jacks a go at the top of the order. While I am somewhat bias as a Surrey and England support, he would bring an extra dimension to their batting in the powerplay that might ultimately be the push they need to reach the final.
Perhaps the biggest challenge that Bangalore face though is removing the monkey from their back that 15 seasons of underachievement has brought. They have the personnel to win IPL 2023, as they have done in seasons prior to this, but do they have the mentality? We're about to find out...
Predicted Finish: 1st
All stats used in this blog are from my own database which is freely accessible at T20 head to head. Images are my own with the exception of player profiles and background images which are used under a creative commons license or otherwise royalty free