Royal Challengers, Volts in must-win situation

Skipper Kumble hopes for improved effort in the field

Defeat against Cape Cobras in the inaugural match came as a jolt, and now it all depends on how quickly they regroup against an unpretentious yet dangerous Otago Volts on Monday.

Royal Challengers, runners-up in IPL II and premier contenders for the Champions League title, have a number of issues to look into before they step on to the field. None requires more urgent attention than fielding and their effort against Cobras, to say the least, was well below par.

Ironically, RCB made less number of errors than Cobras, but the Bangalore side committed errors at crucial times which they had a stronger impact on the outcome of the game.

RCB skipper Anil Kumble was aware of the fact. "We will have to tighten the fielding. It's a decisive situation for us but I am happy about the way the team has shaped up for this match as we have been putting in a lot of effort over the last two days," Kumble said on Sunday after a practice session.

After the debacle against Cobras, there has been a huge cry to include fiery South African pace bowler Dayle Steyn in the line-up. But Kumble said the nature of the pitch will dictate RCB's team combination for the match against Volts.

"Fortunately, we have a match prior to our game, the match between Trinidad & Tobago and Somerset Sabres, to observe the nature of the pitch. We will decide on our combination after watching the first match," the veteran leg-spinner added.

The form Robin Uthappa and Ross Taylor displayed in the last game will be a huge motivational factor for RCB. Rahul Dravid too looked in good touch against Cobras, and the Bangalorean might be hoping to improve upon his 27 he made against the Protean outfit.

Roelof van der Merwe, who had suffered a hit on his head while training on Saturday, did not show any signs of the freak injury and the South African left-arm spinner was seen practising hard on the day.

Volts might have done precious little against Cobras on Saturday in Hyderabad, but it will be naïve to take them for granted.

The primary reason for it will be the presence of Brendon McCullum, as dangerous as anybody in this format. The stunning knock he played against the RCB in the inaugural edition of the IPL might still be afresh in many minds.

McCullum said the past counted for nothing as the Bangalore outfit was a quality side. "We need to win this match and I am not going to focus on anything else. The team's focus is on winning this match and qualifying for the League phase," he said.

In the first match, Trinidad & Tobago, led by Darren Ganga, will face Somerset Sabres, who already have two points from their victory over Deccan Chargers.  Ganga said the opportunity to play a couple of practice matches prior to their opening tie would stand them in good stead.

“We had the opportunity of playing a practice game here and we were successful in that. We had an experience of the conditions and that will be an advantage for us. The victory over Deccan Chargers would give them (Somerset) a lot of confidence and we are aware that they are going to be a very confident team, a team looking to continue their momentum. We are well aware of what they are capable of,” Ganga said.

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