We've a stronger team this year, says Jennings

We've a stronger team this year, says Jennings

Royal Challengers Bangalore kicked off their preparation for the sixth edition of the Indian Premier League and coach Ray Jennings was hopeful of his wards making good progress during the course of the near two-month long tournament.

RCB -- two time runners-up in the mega event -- have brought in some new faces and with most of their players finding form just in time for the T20 event, the Bangalore based unit will be looking to go the distance this time around.

Jennings took time off the season’s opening practice session at the M Chinnaswamy stadium on Tuesday to brief the media on his views. Excerpts: 

Are you happy with the overall composition of the team?

Overall, on paper, we are a lot stronger than we were last year, but again in T20 anything can happen. We do know that the game can change quickly. We know that if (Chris) Gayle spends 100 balls on the wicket we make a lots of runs, if he gets out first ball, sometimes you lose the game. So it’s a strange format, but on paper the side is good. Everyone is committed and the whole unit is happy.

Your opinion of Gayle’s return to run-scoring aways?

I think everyone is playing according to a plan. (Cheteshwar) Pujara, last year, really wasn’t part of the team and he has performed. His challenge is to now play the same quality of cricket in the 20-over format as he does in Tests. We all know he is a good player. (Virat) Kohli is in the top one or two in world ratings, AB de Villiers is right up there, Dilshan is coming off a hundred and Gayle is coming off runs.

So as a unit, the side is looking good from a batting point of view. From the bowling point of view, we have reinforced our attack during the auction. And hopefully, if there are some injuries and niggles, there will be better options available for selection in time for the season.

The bowling unit has been somewhat of a concern for RCB in the past. Do you think these reinforcements will be enough?

We have reinforced a huge amount. We have four or five options and it’s a lot of competition which I really like. We have got spinning options as well with Murali Kartik coming in. So overall it is going to be a better option for me to make the right call. Hopefully, the players that do play perform on the day.

Could you update us on the status of Pujara’s right-index-finger injury?

He will be ready in between one or three weeks’ time. That is something that we will be monitoring on a daily basis. Other than that the side seems to be fit.

Will Zaheer Khan be ready in time for the tournament?

Zaheer has come in today and he will start bowling tomorrow and he committed to me four weeks ago. He will be ready to play in all the games. He will be hundred per cent fit. We know Zaheer and how well he knows his body. He doesn’t have any issues so he will be alright.

Are there any specific areas you are looking to work on with the players?

Players do understand what sort of role they are going to have to play. My job is to just work on small technical things and make sure the team functions as a happy unit because happiness breathes energy and energy is commitment. The IPL is a tough tournament and with the new fixtures coming in (due to assembly elections in the State on May 5), we might have to play 5-6 games away in a row so that’s going to be tough.

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