BIG INJURY CONCERN
De Villiers will lead RCB if Kohli is absent: Vettori
Cricbuzz Staff • Last updated on Thu, 30 Mar, 2017, 07:47 PM
Virat Kohli picked up a shoulder injury during the RanchiTest against Australia. © BCCI
AB de Villiers will lead Royal Challengers Bangalore in the opening stages of IPL 2017 if regular captain Virat Kohli fails to recover from his shoulder injury in time for the start of the tournament. While no timeline has been ascertained for Kohli’s return, Daniel Vettori, head coach of the franchise, told reporters of the succession plan in the eventuality of the star captain missing out.
“He (Kohli) will come in on April 2. Between now and then, the BCCI doctors and physio will speak to us and our medical staff will get a clearer picture. Right now, we don’t have a clear picture on his availability. We will know in the next few days,” Vetorri told reporters in Bengaluru.
“”The likely scenario is that AB de Villiers will take over the duties, but we’ll answer that once we find out if Virat is out,” Vettori added.
Kohli sustained an injury to his right shoulder while diving to save a boundary on the opening day of the Ranchi Test against Australia. The injury ruled the Indian captain out of the series decider in Dharamsala. In the aftermath of India’s series victory, Kohli informed that he was still a few weeks away from regaining full fitness.
“It’s still a few weeks to go before I can be 100% on the field,” Kohli said at the end of the Dharamsala Test. “But these things happen in your career. Got to take it in my strike and move forward.”
Kohli’s absence, brief or otherwise, should it come to that, is likely to significantly hamper RCB’s quest for a maiden IPL crown. The league’s all-time highest run-getter (4110 runs at 38.41) has missed just one game for the franchise in the nine years of the tournament’s existence. In 2016, Kohli aggregated a season record 973 runs in RCB’s run to the final, where his team was pipped at the finish by Sunrisers Hyderabad.
However, Vettori was quick to back RCB’s UP batsman Sarfaraz Khan and Punjab’s Mandeep Singh to step up in Kohli’s absence. “Fortunately, we have a number of exceptional batsmen who haven’t got many playing chances, like Sarfaraz Khan and Mandeep Singh,” the former New Zealand skipper said.
“It’s a huge asset for us that someone else can fill in those gaps. Sarfaraz has been really good. At the back end of the domestic season he started to put some runs on the board. Everyone knows how talented he is. With possible injuries, he could get an opportunity early on in the tournament,” Vettori added.
RCB will get the tenth edition of IPL underway on April 5 in a rematch of last year’s final at the Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium in Hyderabad.