Having come pretty close to winning IPL on two occasions, Royal Challengers Bangalore will be desperate to clinch a major championship title when they begin their campaign in the Champions League Twenty20 against Warriors at the M Chinnaswamy stadium here on Friday.
“We don’t have a trophy yet. But we have the guys in form and I hope we can go all the way this time,” said AB de Villiers, echoing the sentiment of the senior pros in the team.
The franchisee has demanded dividends for their huge investment but somehow RCB have not been able to deliver the much-sought after silverware.
Finishing runner-up is not what Vijay Mallya would like. There will be pressure on Daniel Vettori and gold and red-clad legion to lay their hands on the elusive title.
There are quite a few stars in the RCB ranks, including the marauding West Indian Chris Gayle who had set the stands on fire during the fourth edition of the IPL, but the team will certainly miss the services of the Indian pacer Zaheer Khan.
The dreaded and shrewd left-arm seamer has been under rehabilitation since breaking down during the first Test against England at Lord’s in July.
Apart from Vettori, the vastly improved Sreenath Aravind and Abhimanyu Mithun would miss their mentor in Zaheer. In many ways, Zaheer’s absence could impact RCB’s fortunes in the fortnight-long T20 bash.
Unlike RCB, who fit into the CLT20 as a club outfit, the Johan Botha-led Warriors have the advantage of playing as a provincial unit.
Vettori admitted that the lack of match practice, cohesion are issues to contend with at the start of the tournament.
A defeat could dampen RCB’s chances of qualifying for the title round as every match is crucial in this format.
Man-to-man, Warriors are a better side, with the nucleus of the South African national players forming the core of this powerful side. But Botha and his accomplished Warriors would be wary of the big-hitting Chris Gayle.
If the towering Jamaican, who is although desperately short of match practice, gets cracking, the Warriors could be blown over the Indian Ocean.
Tillakaratne Dilshan, who arrived on Wednesday, and de Viliers can also be ruthless on their day, but Gayle is in another league when it comes to power batting. The left hander can be brutally aggressive.
No bowler would like to bowl at him when he is in full flow. RCB would be hoping that he does just what he did in the last edition of the IPL.
The contest might well be between Gayle and the Warriors.
Royal Challengers Bangalore: Daniel Vettori (Captain), Chris Gayle, AB de Villiers, Tillakaratne Dilshan, Virat Kohli, Mohammad Kaif, Mayank Agarwal, Sreenath Aravind, Arun Karthik, Raju Bhatkal, Abhimanyu Mithun, Dirk Nannes, Asad Pathan, Jamaluddin Syed Mohammad, Saurabh Tiwary.
Warriors: Johan Botha (Captain), Nicky Boje, Mark Boucher, Colin Ingram, Andrew Birch, Justin Kreusch, Lyall Meyer, Makhaya Ntini, Wayne Parnell, Ashwell Prince, JJ Smuts, Kelly Smuts, Rusty Theron, Craig Thyssen, Lonwabo Tsotsobe.