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Royal Challengers Bangalore, Kings XI Punjab best batting sides to look out for in IPL 2018

Packed with T20 specialists, Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) and Kings XI Punjab have a strong batting unit and will be tipped to go the distance this year.

cricket Updated: Jan 29, 2018 23:04 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, Mumbai
IPL 2018,Indian Premier League,Royal Challengers Bangalore
Chris Gayle, who had a poor and injury-played Indian Premier League (IPL) season last year with Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB), was picked up by Kings XI Punjab in the third round of the IPL Auction in Bengaluru.He would be keen to get some good knocks under his belt this year and get back his reputation as the most feared batsman in T20.(Gurpreet Singh/ HT Photo)

Kings XI Punjab seem to have finally put an end to their batting woes and put their best foot forward in terms of building a squad in the auction over the two days with some of the biggest names of world cricket now a part of the franchise.

While foreign recruits like Aaron Finch, Chris Gayle and Marcus Stoinis are all capable of turning tables around in no time; their stellar Indian options include that of Yuvraj Singh, Mayank Agarwal KL Rahul and Karun Nair. Gayle, who went unsold twice in the auction and was picked up during the third session, might not be as threatening an option as he was until a couple of years back but has it in him to find the long boundary.

Thus, besides all of them being handy with the bat, the recruits are all well-versed with the format, the league and bring the much-needed experience in the side, which is a crucial factor in T20s where decisions have to be taken in split-seconds.

Like KXIP, Royal Challengers Bangalore have also pitched in a strong batting unit this season — which has been their sort of the pattern that they’ve followed over the years. While the ‘Universe Boss’ Chris Gayle may have switched over to join the Kings XI Punjab, the core of Virat Kohli’s domestic franchise is almost the same. Besides the skipper, the franchise had also retained AB de Villiers and swooped in Brendon McCullum as a good option for an opener and wicket-keeper.

The middle-order looks brilliant as well with Nathan Coulter-Nile and Colin de Grandhomme in the mix. They also have Quinton de Kock, Manan Vohra and Mandeep Singh to fall back on in case the big names fail to perform.

While the two indeed have a strong batting unit, their bowling options are somewhat modest. Andrew Tye will lead the charge for the KXIP but there aren’t too many back-up options in case the pacer gets injured. In Ashwin, they have an experienced option in the spin department though, while young sensation Mujeeb Zadran will be expected to live up to his reputation.

The problem persists with RCB as well. While they have bought a number of good seamers, including Umesh Yadav, Chris Woakes, Mohammad Siraj and Coulter-Nile, the Englishman might opt out midway given that they have a series to play against Pakistan. Coulter-Nile’s fitness will be a concern too while Yadav has to prove his worth after being sidelined by the Indian squad.

On paper, however, the batting units of both these teams should be able to chase down tall totals and offer plenty for their bowlers to defend, but games aren’t won on paper. RCB had one of the best batting units last season as well only to finish at the bottom of the table. However, they would both want to go the distance this year and lift the coveted title for the first time.

First Published: Jan 29, 2018 23:04 IST