Mumbai: Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) found the right balance with their well thought out acquisitions at the Women’s Premier League (WPL) 2024 Player Auction held in Mumbai on Saturday.
RCB’s seven bids to fill the vacant spots and form a bold squad for the upcoming season were the result of extensive planning and strategy by the proficient backroom staff — which includes head coach Luke Williams, assistant head coach and head of scouting Malolan Rangarajan — with some crucial tactical inputs from skipper Smriti Mandhana.
Mandhana expressed her delight over auction picks and said the planning for the auction began after the first season only and they were keen to focus more on experienced bowlers who have bowled in Indian conditions.
The team secured one of the country’s most experienced spinners and Khel Ratna awardee Ekta Bisht (₹60 lakh), who is first Indian woman to take a hat-trick in the T20 Internationals. They further added pace into their attack by picking England’s Kate Cross (₹30 lakh) and young Indian all-rounder Simran Bahadur (₹30 lakh).
As part of RCB’s commitment to provide a platform for local young talents, they picked a promising domestic all-rounder Shubha Satheesh (₹10 lakh) from Bengaluru before adding 2016 Women’s Asia Cup-winner S Meghana (₹30 lakh) into the squad. Australian spin all-rounders Georgia Wareham (₹40 lakh) and Sophie Molineux (₹30 lakh) were the other two foreign acquisitions of the franchise to complete a strong 18-member squad.
Talking about the auction and the selection of players, RCB, head & VP Rajesh V Menon said, “There are no shortcuts to building a team. You make the foundation brick by brick every season. We had lots of learnings from last year, and our main objective was to take those learnings into the auction, plug those gaps, and build a squad that would give us outstanding balance and flexibility to play in any conditions”
RCB, known for its Play Bold philosophy, not only snatched players who are good with the ball, but also those who are skilful with the bat as well.
“Bowling is definitely very important in T20s and a good bowling side wins you competition and this year we were looking to strengthen our spin unit and also look for overseas pacers who can complement Renuka [Singh] well. We have Kate Cross now and I think she will complement Renuka well in the power play with both swinging the other way. And with Molineux and Wareham, the bowling looks very experienced. Plus we have the likes of Shreyanka [Patil] and also [Sophie] Devine and [Ellyse] Perry,” said Mandhana.
Further explaining RCB’s approach and strategy behind the auction, the assistant head coach and head of scouting, Malolan said: “One of the things RCB did really well is to have strong Indian domestic core in Mandhana, Richa Ghosh, Renuka Singh, Kanika Ahuja and Shreyanka Patil, who form potentially your top five starters in the playing eleven, we have of a very good Indian core. Now, you add to that Sophie Devine, Ellyse Perry and Heather Knight, you have one half of the puzzle already sorted. We had a very focused approach to our auction as to how we can better this team with the options available out there. Our focus was to get a well-balanced bowling unit which can perform under any conditions we may encounter.”