A couple of days back, AB announced his retirement from all forms of cricket permanently. He had retired from international cricket a few years back but played franchise cricket up until now. The most impactful performance by him of all his franchises was in RCB. He was the middle-order linchpin and the batting revolved around him and Virat Kohli. With him gone, RCB will have a void that may never be filled.
In the IPL history, AB may be considered as one of the greatest to have taken the field. His impact on the game and fans has been unparalleled. His records speak for themselves. n the run-scoring chart, he makes it at the 6th spot with more than 5100 runs. It is his average of 40 and strike rate of 152 when coming at the death overs to bat at 4 and 5 which is marvelous.
To come out and tonk the best bowlers on will put AB in a different league of cricketers. For any batsman who has played 50 innings, he has been ranked the best finisher by Wisden Cricket as the best death overs finisher in IPL history. Mere numbers alone do not underline how important he was for RCB.
With him gone, the team will need a strong number 5 batsman who can finish games for RCB the way AB did. Whether that is at all possible is a different debate. We look at 5 options that the management can look as a replacement for AB at no. 5.
1. Liam Livingstone
The Englishman is the closest one can find a like-for-like replacement in this case. He is a no. 4 or 5 batsmen for Rajasthan Royals and England. His range hitting is nearly symmetrical with AB. What he lacks is AB’s consistency and years of experience. However, Livingstone many years before him and he can go on to become one of the most destructive batsmen in the history of the game. In his T20 career, he has already amassed more than 4000 runs at an astonishing strike rate of 144.
2. Jonny Bairstow
Another Englishman who has a proven white-ball record is Bairstow. He is arguably rated as one of the most improved white ball cricketers in the world now. He has been instrumental in revolutionizing T20I and ODI cricket for England. Even when playing for SRH, his strike rate is off the roof at 142. He also averages 41 for them. He has also proven his consistency and big-hitting capabilities. He can be looked at by the RCB management.
3. Shimron Hetmyr
A young and dynamic T20 cricketer from the Caribbean. Hetty has already proven to his critics what he can do in T20 cricket. The 2021 world cup may have been disappointing but his numbers are still up there. As an ex-RCB player, he should be happy to slot back into their middle order. While playing for Delhi this year in the IPL, he batted with an ungodly strike rate of 193. He is a sure match winner and if only he works on his consistency, he could be RCB’s long-term bet.
4. Jos Butler
The list is dotted with Englishmen and that is a testament as to how the recent limited over English team has been. Butler and his numbers need no introduction. He has been a match-winner Rajasthan in the last few years and for England as well. His T20 strike rate of 144 undersigns his big-hitting credentials. He is well known to come in the death overs and slog it off.
5. KL Rahul
The one middle-order Indian who can replace AB is most probably Rahul. He has had plenty of runs under his belt. He is also brilliant with gloves. He was the orange cap holder last year and finished among the top this year as well. His last 4 IPLs have all been close to 600 runs and above. He can also shift years as and when he wished and would be a brilliant fit in the middle order for RCB. His camaraderie with Kohli would be reminiscent of the AB-Kohli relationship and that could be a benefit.