Ahead of his side's Indian Premier League (IPL) 2023 opener against Mumbai Indians, Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) head coach Sanjay Bangar said that Sri Lankan all-rounder Wanindu Hasaranga will be available for the side only after April 9 due to his international cricket commitments. RCB will take on MI in their IPL 2023 campaign opener on Sunday at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bengaluru. "Wanindu Hasaranga will be unavailable for us till the ninth of this month," said Bangar in the pre-match press conference. Hasaranga was the leading wicket-taker for RCB last season and was the second-highest wicket-taker overall with 26 scalps in 16 matches at an average of 16.53 and an economy rate of 7.54. His best bowling figures in the last season were 5/18.
England pacer Reece Topley will be a like-for-like replacement for Australian quick Josh Hazlewood, who will be missing out on the first half of the league due to an achilles injury, said the coach.
"We sort of anticipated it (Hazlewood missing IPL games) and it was factored in the auction and pre-auction meetings. Reece Topley provides a like-to-like replacement for him. I am sure that his left-arm bowling will add to the strength of our bowling," said Bangar.
On the status of Rajat Patidar, who is also expected to miss the first half of IPL due to a heel injury, Bangar said that the batter is undergoing treatment at the National Cricket Academy (NCA) in Bengaluru and the franchise is awaiting clarification from him.
The coach also added that star Australia all-rounder Glenn Maxwell, who recently made his return to cricket in the ODI series against Australia after a leg injury sustained last year, has been cleared to play by Cricket Australia (CA) and will play on Sunday.
Bangar revealed that the franchise wanted to sign New Zealand all-rounder Michael Bracewell during the auction last year, but had to sign Will Jacks, an England all-rounder due to the auction sequence. The all-rounder is now in the team as a replacement for an injured Jacks."
"Bracewell is a versatile player. He can bat at the top and lower down the order. We will be looking to make the best use of him," added Bangar.
On playing at the home ground of M Chinnaswammy Stadium after a gap of over three years, Bangar said, "Boys are excited. The build-up was very nice. We had this RCB Unbox event and also the Hall of Fame event that the team management did. The response to these events was nice and it gave goosebumps to the new boys who have not experienced the atmosphere at the Chinnaswammy Stadium. Hope fans will continue providing the energy like they do always."
Last year, RCB qualified for playoffs and lost to Rajasthan Royals in qualifier 2 by seven wickets.
Royal Challengers Bangalore: Squad strength: 25 players (overseas 8)
Players bought during IPL 2023 auction - Reece Topley (Rs 1.9 crore), Himanshu Sharma (Rs 20 lakh), Will Jacks (Rs 3.2 crore), Manoj Bhandage (Rs 20 lakh), Rajan Kumar (Rs 70 lakh), Avinash Singh (Rs 60 lakh).
Players retained - Faf du Plessis (c), Virat Kohli, Suyash Prabhudessai, Rajat Patidar, Dinesh Karthik, Anuj Rawat, Finn Allen, Glenn Maxwell, Wanindu Hasaranga, Shahbaz Ahmed, Harshal Patel, David Willey, Karn Sharma, Mahipal Lomror, Mohammed Siraj, Josh Hazlewood, Siddarth Kaul, Akash Deep.