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Will the decision to release in-form Marcus Stoinis prove costly for RCB in IPL 2020?

RCB over the years has acquired a reputation for making some surprising and shocking releases ahead of every IPL season.

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Marcus Stoinis. (Photo by Graham Denholm/Getty Images)

India is taking on Australia in a series decider match at the Chinnaswamy Stadium, Bengaluru. Other than hosting the ODI the ground is also home to one of the most polarizing T20 cricket clubs, Royal Challengers Bangalore. Though there is no love-loss between the men in Blue and the Aussies. In less than four months’ time Virat Kohli, Aaron Finch, Navdeep Saini, and Kane Richardson will share the dressing room in quest for RCB’s maiden IPL title.

They will be joined by a diverse pool of international and domestic talent AB De Villiers, Dale Steyn, and Chris Morris amongst others. The RCB squad looks good on paper and the fans have their fingers crossed. Ahead of the 13th Season, the Bangalore based franchise made some surprising releases and some good buys. Those amongst released were Marcus Stoinis, Shimron Hetmyer and those amongst acquired were Chris Morris and Aaron Finch.

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There is one name amongst all those that took the cricketing world by storm last week. Any guesses?. No, it wasn’t Virat Kohli or AB De Villiers. It was Marcus Stonis – the Australian batsman who hit the highest score in Big Bash League’s history. Stoinis smashed an unbeaten 147 off 79 deliveries, hitting 13 fours and 8 sixes in the process. Royal Challenger Banglore’s fans and especially the franchise must have experienced a bittersweet moment after the knock. Stonis was a member of the red army and the word to be stressed here is ‘Was’. There’s a reason for calling Stonis’s release from the franchise as a surprise.

Marcus Stoinis has been in sublime touch for Melbourne Stars in BBL 2019-20

The right-handed all-rounder had a good outing with Royal Challengers Bangalore last year. Providing the innings with impetus and playing many crucial knocks, not to forget he also chipped in with wickets. Stoinis scored 211 runs in 10 matches that he played but a true indicator of his abilities and his performances is his strike rate. Batting at number 5 or down Stoinis had a destructive strike rate of over 135.

At this point, Marcus Stoinis’s release by RCB can be termed as surprising but not shocking. RCB over the years has acquired a reputation for making some surprising and shocking releases ahead of every IPL season. Before 2020’s IPL it is Marcus Stoinis, ahead of 2019 it was Quinton de Kock and ahead of 2018 season’s it was KL Rahul. There are other names in this list too which include the likes of Shane Watson, Chris Gayle, and Kedar Jhadav but for not let’s talk about KL Rahul, Quinton De Kock and Marcus Stoinis.

The year 2019 and 2020 has been a coming of age for the wicketkeeper-batsman. Starting from World Cup 2019 Rahul has displayed immense maturity and has played crucial knocks for the Indian Team despite being out of the team on many occasions due to the presence of Shikhar Dhawan as a bonafide opener. Rahul may have lost his spot in the test team but if his form in white-ball cricket is any indication Rahul will definitely make the Flight to Australia next year ahead of Shikhar Dhawan.

Royal Challengers Bangalore have often been criticized for their surprising releases

During the second ODI between Australia and India in the recently-concluded series, Rahul smashed the Australian bowling attack all around the park. Rahul scored 80 off just 52 deliveries batting at number 5. In the first match of the series, Rahul came to bat at number 3 after India lost Rohit Sharma early and scored 47 runs. The two knocks were very different in nature but they are great indicators of Rahul’s maturity as a batsman.

Rahul was part of the RCB in 2016, one of the most successful years for the franchise where they finished first runner ups. Rahul scored 397 runs at and an average of 44.11 and a strike rate of over 146. An injury kept him away for the 2017 season and before 2018 auction he along with other veterans in T20 formats; Shane Watson, Kedar Jhadav, Chris gayle was released. The Banglore franchise parted ways with him and decided to retain Sarfaraz Khan who they subsequently released in 2019 due to poor showing.

Rahul was roped by Kings XI Punjab and has scored runs across formats for the Indian team and Punjab. Ahead of IPL 2020, he is also speculated to lead the franchise. The move to Punjab has worked phenomenally for Rahul but not for RCB who have not done well over the last two seasons.

Similarly, Quinton De Kock just played 8 games for RCB in IPL 2018 while being a big acquisition in the 2018 auction. Royal Challengers Bangalore traded QDK to Mumbai Indians in 2019. De Kock wasn’t left out even for one game by MI in 2019 and scored an impressive 529 runs at an average of 35.26 and a strike rate of almost 133, opening the innings with Rohit Sharma.

Shane Watson moved to Chennai Super Kings after 2018 and won CSK the finals in 2018 with a ton and was just moments away from repeating the feat in 2019. Royal Challengers Bangalore have been eluded from services of quality players like Quinton De Kock, Shane Watson, and KL Rahul due to bad management decisions. One can see a pattern; RCB ropes quality players and releases them after expecting results too soon. For fans and franchise’s sake let’s hope Marcus Stoinis is not added to the same list.

~ Written by Anmol Ahuja

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