'Kohli is our future captain'

Indian portion of Royal Challengers Bangalore has got a lot better: Ray Jennings

'Kohli is our future captain'

Royal Challengers’ skipper Anil Kumble (right) and Karan Sharma during a training session on Monday. DH PHOTO

Jennings, who arrived in the City on Monday, wasted little time, rushing to the M Chinnaswamy stadium to monitor a tranining session of his wards, ahead of the IPL III. He touched upon a variety of issues during an interaction.

Excerpts:

Your stated ambition was to increase the local flavour in RCB. Are you satisfied with the process?

If you look at it, we have pulled back Manish Pandey from the Mumbai Indians. He is becoming a star here. Vinay Kumar and Mithun have made rapid strides and we have also pulled back Robin Uthappa from Mumbai Indians. Unfortunately, he is struggling a bit at the moment, but I am sure he will pull it back. We’re making it sure that the local players are very important part of us.

In the last year or so, a lot of RCB youngsters have played for India, a pleasing factor for you...

When I came here a year ago, Vinay was very nervous after playing in the first IPL. I guess he enjoyed me and my work ethics. Honestly, I believed he can play for India and that was a year ago. But between now and then he has matured a lot. I hope he will go on and play for India. This IPL, I hope, will put his game at a new level. IPL is a like tram, if you are world class it can transport you to the next level. Players like Mithun, Manish and Vinay have grown a large percentage in the last edition of the IPL. The Indian portion of our side has got a lot better and has produced a lot of goods for us.

So, are they more comfortable playing with/against international players now, pushing them for a place in the side?

I think, the local guys have been playing really well, and the call is how to pick the side. For me it’s all about performance and current form. For eg: Virat Kohli has showed a lot of maturity in the recent months and became a part of the Indian set up. For me, he is very much our future captain. How long Kumble is going to be around...I think Kohli can take over from him. I have no doubt in mind that he can be India’s captain in two-three years. I have watched him for a while now and he has been maturing and understands his game better.

After a high in SA, is it going to be a reality check for bowlers in Indian pitches?

Yeah, I think the pitch and small outfields will see the batsmen dominate this edition of the IPL in India. But the bowlers need to be mentally stronger and they need to handle it, especially spin bowlers who have gone for some runs in the first edition of the tournament. But it’s part of the game, and they will have to adjust to that.

Three of your key players, Kallis, Steyn and Boucher, just played a series in India. Do you think that will give you an advantage?

I don’t think so. Advantage, I believe, is playing well on the match day. If you can do that on any given day then the advantage will be with us. These guys are experienced, so obviously, they will give a lot of balance to the side.

Any Concern about Kevin Pietersen’s form?

There was a bit of concern about him. But in the last two-three games he has come through nicely and did well against Pakistan. He is a quality cricketer. He can turn the tide, and he has been working on his game. So, I have no concern about Kevin’s form and I am sure he will back among runs here.

Last year Pietersen was the skipper till he had to pull out due to an injury. Now he returns as one of the players, and what will be his role?

From our point of view, if Kevin can dominate the bowling from 6-15 overs then he has done his job. Obviously, the captiancy role has been taken away from him but his dominating presence on the field and the way he scores his runs, I am sure he will have a big impact for us in matches and outside.

Tell us a bit about new signing Eoin Morgan...

Look, Eoin is very new to IPL and world cricket. But he could be a very big surprise because he has not played that much in the market.  The England lad is a very very different cricketer and I am sure his style of play is suited to Indian conditions.

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