A hungry Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) will Saturday begin thier hunt for the coveted Indian Premier League (IPL) title that has twice eluded them in the past despite an envious batting and bowling line-up.
“We are pretty excited about the tournament. The boys are raring to go all-out to win from the first game itself,” a confident RCB captain Daniel Vettori told reporters Friday ahead of their first league match against Delhi Daredevils at the M. Chinnaswamy stadium.
Forgetting the bitter memories of losing out to Chennai Super Kings in the IPL-4 title clash by 58 runs at Chennai, runners-up Royal Challengers are determined to avoid a repeat of being a slow starters or chokers to lose again if it makes to the final this time too.
“We will go out and play every game to the best of our ability. In the last two seasons, we have played well and progressed like any other team,” Vettori said before joining the players for a two-hour gruelling practice at the nets before the sun set on a hot evening.
Upbeat on having a formidable batting line-up with the likes of an explosive Chris Gayle and an in-form Virat Kohli, Vettori is betting on seamers Zaheer Khan and Vinay Kumar or Dirk Nannes and spinners Muttiah Muralitharan or Jamaluddin Syed Mohammed to restrict the Daredevils either way, his luck with toss notwithstanding.
Barring Sri Lankan Tilakratne Dilshan, who is playing a Test series against England in the island nation, the remaining 30 players are available for the first league match.
“We will finalise the team after we see the players at the nets as we will have a better understanding of their respective roles. Though we are strong equally in batting and bowling, our concern is fielding, which had let us down in the early games last year when we lost three on trot after winning the first match,” the skipper recalled.
After winning against debutantes Kochi Tuskers in IPL-4 season’s first match at Kochi April 9, 2011, Royal Challengers went on to lose three league matches in a row against Deccan Chargers at Hyderabad, Super Kings at Chennai and Mumbai Indians in Bangalore during April 2011.
“The fielding was also not up to the standard to allow us to win those games. But we went on to win the following four-five games once we sorted out our fielding as every run is critical in this shorter version of the game. A collective performance in fielding and an outstanding contribution by individuals in batting or bowling will keep us in the hunt till the end,” Vettori asserted.
Admitting that playing on home turf was an advantage owing to the huge support from the die-hard fans, Vettori said it would be a challenge too as expectations from home crowd would more on them than on opponents, adding a bit of pressure in crunch times.
“It’s delighting to play in front of your own fans, many of whom are very knowledgeable of the game and sportive. We hope to treat them with an exciting game and win to receive their continuous support even as they expect us to perform better in rest of the matches here and away,” Vettori observed.
“I haven’t read the pitch yet. But last year, it was very good ground for us. Our top order batsmen enjoyed playing on it and winning most of the matches. Gayle was especially phenomenal,” Vettori noted.
On the re-induction of Vinay Kumar and entry of a couple of young Indians into the team, the skipper said that RCB had an improved squad and could go one step further to win the cup this time.