RCB look to tide over injuries

RCB look to tide over injuries

Royal Challengers Bangalore’s dream of clinching their maiden Indian Premier League title was crushed at the final hurdle by Sunrisers Hyderabad last year.

That the defeat came in front of their home fans would have left the Bengaluru unit heart-broken. As the stage gets set for the tenth edition of the tournament, the two teams will kick-start proceedings here at the Rajiv Gandhi International Cricket stadium on Wednesday.

On the face of it, it appears to be an ideal scenario for RCB. A win against Sunrisers, at their home ground, could heal the bitter memories of last year’s final and Daniel Vettori’s men would look to kick on from the promising start.

However, the Challengers don’t appear a team that staged a spectacular comeback on the back of some inspirational performances last time. Perhaps, for the first time in the history of the tournament, injuries to many players have drawn more attention than the competition itself, and RCB are the ones most affected by it.

After the KL Rahul and Virat Kohli setbacks, AB de Villiers too was ruled out for the opening tie due to a back injury. RCB’s hopes of banking on rising talent Sarfaraz Khan to strengthen their batting unit also went up in smoke after he picked up an injury during a practice game in Bengaluru on Monday.

The absence of so many players could unsettle the team’s plans and the biggest challenge for stand-in skipper Shane Watson and coach Vettori would be to get the combination right.

With his ability to destroy any bowling attack with consummate ease, opener Chris Gayle will be RCB’s main man at the top. Gayle’s strong start is important for RCB as it would lessen the pressure on the inexperienced middle-order.

Watson had conceded that the absence of seniors could result in a change in his batting role and the experienced all-rounder could either open the innings or come in at number three. While Mandeep Singh could be another choice for partnering Gayle, the middle-order could consist of Kedhar Jadhav and Sachin Baby.

RCB’s bowling has been their Achilles heel and it almost fashioned their ouster in the group stages last season. While it was heartening to see their bowlers exhibit fighting performances at the fag end of the tournament, the Challengers will require a better start from their bowling unit.

In the recent past, players who have attracted whopping money have failed to live to up the expectations and all eyes will be on their pacer Tymal Mills, who made headlines for his price (12 crore). Leg-spinner Samuel Badree is likely to join the side on Wednesday morning and it remains to be seen if he will make it to the playing eleven.

The Sunrisers’ confidence also took a hit when key pacer Mustafizur Rahman was ruled out for the first game. However, the hosts appear a more balanced side when compared to their opponents.

Skipper David Warner will be the biggest threat for RCB while the experienced Ashish Nehra and Bhuvneshwar Kumar form a formidable bowling pair.
DH News Service

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