RCB return to training mode

RCB return to training mode

Kevin Pietersen expected to join the squad today

RCB return to training mode

Towering hit : RCB’s Cameron White practices at the M Chinnaswamy stadium on Sunday. DH photo

Barring the absent duo of Praveen Kumar and Robin Uthappa, a majority of the rest of the squad brushed up on its skills, watched by eagle-eyed coach Ray Jennings and Kumble himself.

Key batsmen Rahul Dravid and Mark Boucher, who haven’t had too many chances to showcase their wares, had long batting stints in both innings, while South Africans Jacques Kallis and Dale Steyn, who were both present at the ground, stayed away from cricketing drills while working on physical fitness.

There was a mini-scare when Eoin Morgan, the Irishman who hasn’t the best of times with the bat, sustained a small cut in his right hand whilst keeping wickets. The left-hander, however, returned to bat under lights, aware that with Cameron White already here and with the arrival of Kevin Pietersen and Kiwi Ross Taylor imminent, his place in the playing eleven is under genuine threat.

Pietersen, who led the Challengers during the early part of IPL II in South Africa with disastrous results, is expected to join his team-mates on Monday morning and take part in another match simulation exercise in the afternoon. The Challengers will leave for Chennai on Tuesday morning for their clash against the hapless Chennai Super Kings the following afternoon.

The Chennai match will the first of three away games in five days for Kumble’s men. By the time the third of those matches comes around, against the Delhi Daredevils on April 4, Taylor too is expected to join the Challengers. With big-hitting Australian White already a part of the set-up, the Challengers will thus be at full strength as the business end of the IPL comes around.