Injuries, familiar problems stand between RCB and silverware

INDIAN PREMIER LEAGUE, 2017

Injuries, familiar problems stand between RCB and silverware

MS Ramakrishnan • Last updated on Sun, 02 Apr, 2017, 09:57 PM

In Kohli and Rahul’s absence, AB de Villiers will have to shoulder much of the batting responsibility at the start of the season. © BCCI

Royal Challengers Bangalore are easily one of the most entertaining teams in the IPL. There’s a Virat Kohli-led enviable ensemble of batters on the field, well complemented by raucous supporters in the stands and millions on YouTube channel. It’s perfect… nearly. For, all that’s missing now, is silverware.

RCB’s batting unit has World Cup and World T20 winners, the No. 1 batsman of the format and even a proven IPL performer. And yet the team has failed to be crowned champions. But it’s also easy to see why they haven’t tasted glory – they’ve been a lopsided, batting-heavy line-up. Kohli left peers, opponents and every single pair of eyes on last year’s IPL, dumbstruck with his unmatched form with the bat. He amassed 973 runs, with four centuries, and single-handedly powered them to the final.

A brand, new edition of IPL, after a long home season, has opened a different, potentially debilitating challenges for RCB. Even their stronger batting suit will now have to be shouldered by different heads following injuries to Kohli and KL Rahul. The captain will be reassessed for participation after a couple of weeks while Rahul, behind only Kohli and de Villiers in the team’s batting charts last season, will give the whole season a miss.

The team were dealt a massive blow when Mitchell Starc – their most potent weapon in the bowling department – opted out of the tournament’s 2017 edition. This meant they had to go hammer and tongs at the auction for a top-class bowler. They showed that by going the distance with a whopping INR 12 crore bid in an intense four-way bidding war for England fast bowler Tymal Mills, who has earned the reputation of being a versatile fast bowler – a prerequisite for one plying his trade in T20s.

The team management seemed to have gone into the auction with a clear mindset, wanting to beef up their bowling battalion. The second most notable addition to the squad was Rajasthan’s left-arm seamer Aniket Choudhary, who was bought for INR 2 crore from a base price of 10 lakh. In fact, when the auctions were happening, Aniket, who bowls at a decent pace and swings the ball, was actually bowling to Virat Kohli in the nets to prepare India for the Starc test ahead of the four-match series against Australia.

RCB look a very good team on paper and with a lot of uncertainties over the reshuffling of squads for IPL-11 next year, they’d hope to give their 100 percent for the title this season, for it could be tough to assemble such a formidable unit.

One individual who’d desperate to perform well on the field is Chris Gayle, who had an average season in 2016. In fact, it was just the second season with RCB where Gayle did not record a triple-figure score, after 2014. He was no more a sure-shot selection in the playing XI despite his decorated T20 career, so much so that he was even left out of the eleven a few times last season. With Rahul ruled out, the need for Gayle to rekindle his best form becomes imperative.

The build up to IPL-10, however, has not been great for the left-hander, with quiet outings in the Bangladesh Premier League and the Pakistan Super League that followed. A good season is vital to Gayle’s future at RCB, especially with the aforementioned shuffling of squads in 2018.

Strengths

RCB’s batting line-up is undoubtedly the best in the tournament. Even with Kohli out for a couple of weeks at least, Gayle, AB de Villiers and Shane Watson should be able to pack enough in their punch to put bowling sides in trouble and turn games on their head.

Weaknesses

A no-brainer really. There is absolutely no doubt that accuracy with the ball, especially in the death overs, has been a major problem for RCB. Barring Starc, who could nail reverse-swinging yorkers at will, they haven’t managed to snap up any special talent. Their big-money buy Mills has the opportunity to rid RCB of their bowling woes.

Opportunities

Yuzvendra Chahal’s rise as a quality leg-spinner has been quite impressive with his RCB showing, so much so that he made the national selectors take note and even earned an India cap. This season, he plays a key role in their bowling plans and his consistency levels will be closely monitored.

Pawan Negi, their newest buy, had a forgettable outing last year after going for a massive bid of INR 8.5 crore from Delhi Daredevils in the 2016 auction. This time around, at RCB, he could well be named ahead of Iqbal Abdulla – their second-choice Indian spinner in 2016 – because of his potential to hit the ball long and clean.

Stuart Binny has not quite managed to be in the limelight at the international circuit since the emergence of Hardik Pandya. With RCB likely to have three front-line pacers, the Karnataka all-rounder gives them the extra medium-pace option with swing up front with the new ball, in addition to his big-hitting abilities with the bat. An excellent season could give him a great chance of knocking on the selectors’ doors once more, with India set to move out of their home comforts in the coming seasons.

Many eyes will be on Kedar Jadhav – the finisher. He gave India a lot of hope of fitting into the role in the middle-order during the ODIs against England and his ability to handle pressure situations is something the selectors would want to zoom in on during this season.

Threats

Yes, the Chinnaswamy stadium is a great place for fans to enjoy T20 cricket, but the bowlers are generally none-too-pleased. The reason, you ask? Short boundaries and a batsmen-friendly strip. No target is safe and the toss becomes far too vital. It is for this reason, the Chinnaswamy has never quite evolved into a fortress for the home side.

What the schedule holds

RCB would want to have a close eye on how they begin the season. Winning just two out of their first seven games put immense pressure on the team last year, although they won six games out of seven in the second half of the tournament and even managed a top-two finish.They have an even spread of home and away games and also finish off their two games against bogey team Sunrisers Hyderabad well in advance. They close out their season with two games and an away trip to Delhi. It is an itinerary that could have so easily been worse.

The team would be better served if the middle-order manages to stay in good touch through the league phase, should they progress beyond. Kohli and de Villiers batted out most of the overs last year – but the chances of the duo having such a dream season simultaneously yet again could be too much to ask for, even if the two are known to defy the law of averages and probabilities on a routine basis.

Ideal Starting XI: Chris Gayle, Shane Watson, AB de Villiers (stand-in captain), Mandeep Singh, Sarfaraz Khan, Kedar Jadhav, Stuart Binny, Pawan Negi/Iqbal Abdulla, Yuzvendra Chahal, Tymal Mills, Sreenath Arvind/Aniket Choudhary

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N Jagadeesan, Vishnu Vinod lead race to replace KL Rahul at RCB

IPL 2017

N Jagadeesan, Vishnu Vinod lead race to replace KL Rahul at RCB

Manuja Veerappa • Last updated on Mon, 03 Apr, 2017, 06:56 AM

Jagadeesan has been making giant strides. © Cricbuzz

On their day off, Royal Challengers Bangalore overseas bowlers turned out in good numbers during the trials to find a replacement for injured top-order batsman KL Rahul.

With the 24-year-old local boy, who kept wickets as well in the previous season, unavailable for the entire duration of the Indian Premier League, RCB are looking for an uncapped Indian player.

Four domestic players – Karnataka batsman Pavan Deshpande, N Jagadeesan of Tamil Nadu, Kerala’s Vishnu Vinod and Prashant Chopra from Himachal Pradesh attended the trials under the watchful eyes of coach Daniel Vettori. While Jagadeesan and Vinod are regular wicketkeepers who can bat too, Prashant is an occasional ‘keeper. Deshpande has had a good run this season and is a proven hard-hitting left-hand batsman and a handy off-spinner. He showcased glimpses of his power-hitting against English bowler Tymal Mills.

With AB de Villiers pulling out of the final of the Momentum One-Day Cup – South Africa’s domestic 50-over competition with a back injury, RCB have the option of having Kedar Jadhav or Australia’s Travis Head to keep wickets. The 32-year-old Indian , however, hasn’t kept wickets for a while but has called on to bowl his offbreaks occasionally.

In such a scenario, Jagadeesan and Vinod may fancy their chances of making the cut. Both are proven talents on the domestic circuit both with the bat and behind the stumps. The RCB think-tank probably wanted to test the four youngsters’ ability to handle international bowlers and had Shane Watson, Tymal Mills and Adam Milne bowl to them apart from the regular net bowlers.

Meanwhile, skipper Virat Kohli, who has been ruled out of RCB’s first few games owing to a shoulder injury, joined his teammates in Bengaluru on Sunday (April 2) evening. South African AB de Villiers, who is likely to lead in Kohli’s absence, was expected to arrive late on Sunday night.

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AB de Villiers or Kedar jadhav might keep wickets for us, says Royal Challengers Bangalore coach Daniel Vettori

AB de Villiers is a part of RCB franchise in the IPL. (Source: Express Photo) AB de Villiers is a part of RCB franchise in the IPL. (Source: Express Photo)

The tenth edition of the Indian Premier League has been hit with a massive number of injuries even before the first ball is bowled. Or well, the first sound of the opening ceremony is made. From Virat Kohli to R Ashwin, the franchises have experienced setbacks with some big guns out of either the start of the league or for its entirety.

Royal Challengers Bangalore suffered a blow when it was learnt that skipper Virat Kohli will be not be available for at least the first two weeks while opener KL Rahul is also out of reckoning for the entire IPL after picking up a shoulder injury during the first Test against Australia in Pune.

With Rahul’s absence from the team, the slot for the wicket-keeper is left wide opened and coach Daniel Vettori has said that either right-hander Kedar Jadhav would be handed over the duties behind the stumps or it would be South Africa’s mainstay AB de Villiers who will do the proceedings in the role for the franchise.

“Owing to a shoulder injury, KL Rahul will be travelling for his treatment and thus will be unavailable to play as a part of the RCB squad this IPL”, he said.

De Villiers has previously kept wickets for the Proteas and has been a fine customer in that position while Jadhav too has had wicket-keeping experience earlier in the Indian Premier League.

While Kohli and Rahul are both nursing injuries, the situation has created another void in the batting line up and that is of the opener. Former Australian all-rounder Shane Watson though has hinted at opening the innings for RCB with Chris Gayle.

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De Villiers will lead RCB if Kohli is absent: Vettori

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.

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AB de Villiers to lead RCB during Virat Kohli’s unavailability

Virat Kohli is likely to miss the IPL opener against Sunrisers Hyderabad. Virat Kohli is likely to miss the IPL opener against Sunrisers Hyderabad.

AB de Villiers will be leading the Royal Challengers Bangalore unit if their regular captain Virat Kohli fails to recover from his shoulder injury in time for the Indian Premier League 2017 opener against Sunrisers Hyderabad on April 5. De Villiers will arrive in Bangalore on April 2.

RCB coach Daniel Vettori said that Kohli will join the team on April 2 and then check the situation of his shoulder with the medical staff and decide whether to play on or not.

Kohli was injured in the third Test against Australia in Ranchi when he fell awkwardly on his right shoulder while fielding on the fence. He then missed the fourth Test in Dharamsala.

After the series, Kohli said that he does not feel 100 percent fit and will be out for a couple of weeks and can only assess after talking to the physiotherapist.

“The likely scenario is that de Villiers will take over the duties but we’ll answer that once we find out if Virat is out,” Vettori said. “Right now, we don’t have a clear picture on his availability. We’ll know in the next few days.”

Kohli was in phenomenal form in last year’s IPL, scoring 973 runs for Bangalore. He also shared some brilliant stands with De Villiers. Bangalore reached the final of IPL 2016 but lost to Sunrisers Hyderabad.

Both teams will compete in the first match of the new season, the tenth of the Indian Premier League.

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