With less than a week to go for one of the richest cricket leagues in the world, it was confirmed that some of the most important players of the eight-team tournament will not be in action. The Royal Challengers Bangalore are the worst affected by the spate of injuries as the participation of their three batting pillars, Virat Kohli, KL Rahul and Ab de Villiers’, is uncertain.
Indian captain Virat Kohli sustained a shoulder injury in the third Test against Australia in Ranchi, and is likely to remain out of action for the first half of the tournament. And if Kohli’s absence wasn’t enough to hurt RCB’s campaign, the news of KL Rahul’s injury made the rounds on Friday morning. Sources revealed that Rahul will be travelling to London during the IPL to undergo surgery on his left shoulder that he had hurt during the Border-Gavaskar series opener in Pune.
And just when the Vijay Mallya-owned franchise named AB de Villiers as the captain in Kohli’s absence, uncertainty loomed large over the South African batsman’s participation too, after he was ruled out of the Momentum One Day Cup final due to a back injury.
It may well be the case that the South African star is preserving himself for the IPL and did not risk himself by playing the final of the Momentum Cup.
If the South African misses a few matches through injury, who could be his replacement as captain? Here are five RCB players who could lead the side in the absence of Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers in IPL 2017.
#1 Shane Watson
Shane Watson is one of the best all-rounders to come out of Australia in the recent past. He was appointed as Australia’s vice-captain from 2011 to 2013, and became the team’s 44th Test captain later that year. He led the Australian Team against India in Delhi in March 2013.
The 35-year old has also captained the Rajasthan Royals in 2014 and 2015 and in the inaugural season of the league, and was awarded the ‘Player of the Series’ in 2013. The years of cricketing knowledge that Watson carries could make him the first choice for captaincy if de Villiers doesn’t fly to India anytime soon.
#2 Kedar Jadhav
Kedar Jadhav was the backbone of India’s ODI series win against England earlier this year. The Pune-born batsman is an experienced professional in the domestic circuit and has been an intelligent captain for Maharashtra.
Jadhav knows the Indian conditions better than Watson, and has also played under the captaincy of Virat Kohli in the national side, which could be a factor in him leading the Bangalore side. He made his IPL debut for the Delhi Daredevils, before being bought by RCB in 2015.
#3 Chris Gayle
The swashbuckling batsman captained the West Indies from 2007 to 2010, before being sacked by the West Indies Cricket Board, and being replaced by Darren Sammy. The RCB opener has enjoyed mixed results as captain, winning three Tests out of 14 and 13 ODIs out of 38.
In ODIs, he led West Indies to two series wins, including an away victory against England in 2009.
His major Test wins came against Sri Lanka in Port-of-Spain which won Gayle much praise as a captain. Gayle has been a part of the IPL since the first edition, in which he played for the Kolkata Knight Riders. The RCB team management could choose Gayle as a captain for the experience he brings to the table.
#4 Stuart Binny
There are two things which make Stuart Binny a candidate for the post of Royal Challengers Bangalore captain. First is his familiarity with the M. Chinnaswamy pitch, which is the home ground of RCB, and of Karnataka, for whom Binny plays in domestic cricket. Secondly, he is the most experienced Indian player in the RCB outfit.
Apart from the Indian cricket team, he has previously been a part of Mumbai Indians and Rajasthan Royals, for whom he played a very important role in the 2013 edition. Binny’s experience of leading the Karnataka side in the domestic circuit, and also him being a useful player with the bat and ball, could make him a good candidate for the captaincy post.
#5 Samuel Badree
Samuel Badree is a T20 specialist and has played in various T20 domestic leagues around the world since making his international debut in 2012 in a T20I. He was part of the team that lifted the 2012 World T20 title in Colombo.
Badree made his IPL debut with Rajasthan Royals in the 2013 season. He was snapped up by CSK in the IPL Player Auction 2014, and in 2016, Royal Challengers Bangalore acquired his services. Most recently, he was a huge contributor in West Indies’ run to the ICC World T20 title in 2016, picking up 9 wickets and with a meagre economy rate of 5.39.
Badree’s experience of playing in most T20 leagues across the world can play a key role in him becoming RCB’s stand-in-skipper.