Induction of England batsman Kevin Pietersen and New Zealand’s Jesse Ryder, besides the city-lad Robin Uthappa, has helped the IPL franchise Bangalore Royal Challengers shed its tag of a Test outfit in Twenty20 cricket, owner Vijay Mallya said on Thursday.
“Last year, our team was called a Test team but with players such as (Kevin) Pietersen, (Robin) Uthappa and (Jesse) Ryder in the squad now, no one calls it a Test team anymore,” Mallya said.
Mallya’s team was criticised by experts last year for lacking the firepower required for Twenty20 cricket as it ended up seventh in the eight-team contest.
Pietersen is to lead the team till he is available to do so after which star South African all-rounder Jacques Kallis would take over the mantle.
The liquor baron said that his team had five home-grown players and their familiarity with conditions in South Africa, where the second edition of IPL is to be held from April 18, will stand his team in good stead for the battles ahead.
“We have five South African players in our team, apart from former South Africa coach Ray Jennings. They are well aware of the conditions in that country and this advantage should work in our favour,” he said.
The quintet of South African players – Dale Steyn, Jaques Kallis, Mark Boucher, Roelof Van der Merwe and Dillion du Preez are among the RCB’s ten foreign recruits.
While admitting that the shifting of IPL to South Africa would cause some financial losses to the franchise, Mallya said he was confident that the cricket board would make up for those.
“The event is sure to cost us but I am sure that the BCCI will do something about it. Holding the tournament in such a short time was a challenge in itself, the ‘hisaab-kitaab’ can be done once the tournament is over,” he said.
Mallya hoped that shifting the venue of IPL to South Africa will not hamper the viewership.
“About 95 per cent viewership of IPL is TV audience. It is unlikely to suffer as the BCCI has adjusted the timings of the matches as per the convenience of Indian audience.
“IPL going overseas is a lot better than missing it altogether,” he said.