The berths up for grabs in the Royal Challengers Bangalore eleven in the upcoming edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL) will be decided purely on the basis of current form rather than past reputation. That was made clear by coach Ray Jennings.
“The core idea behind picking our side is to give opportunities to the players who are doing well. For me, the starting point is performance,” said the South African coach, known for his no-nonsense approach towards the game and his job.
Jennings, under whose tutelage RCB spurred a dramatic turnaround in the last edition of the T20 league with a runners-up finish, began his second season with the team here on Monday with a camp at the KSCA ‘B’ ground on Monday.
Speaking about the evolution of players in the side, Jennings showered praise on the Karnataka trio of Manish Pandey, Vinay Kumar and A Mithun while adding that the “Indian portion of our side has got better” and stated that it would be an advantage for the Bangalore side in the third edition of the high-profile tournament.
But the Protean reserved the best compliments for Virat Kohli, who has made giant strides in terms of his international exposure and performance over the last one year or so.
“Kohli has come up and is there in the Indian set up. He is very much a future captain and I believe he can lead India in another two to three years. He is maturing and is not doing the wrong things. He is a good option for us to take over from Kumble but it depends on how long Kumble continues to play,” asserted Jennings.
Stating that the batsmen are all set to dominate in the Indian conditions and its small outfields, Jennings felt that the bowlers had to handle the situation well, especially the spinners.
On the return of former captain Kevin Pietersen into the side, Jennings said that the whole team still is looking up to him. “Though he may not be the captain this time around, KP still has a lot to contribute to the team’s cause. KP loves to dominate and if he does that in the 6-14 overs period it would be good for us. He is an inspiration.”
Pietersen’s England teammate Eoin Morgan, another hard hitter, would be the surprise element this time around, felt Jennings. Another new recruit, former India player and ICL returnee S Sriram got special mention. “He is a fighter, very gutsy cricketer. He is a good fielder, can bowl, can bat and is 30, the right age in terms of maturity. I like those kind of players,” explained Jennings.
The Tamil Nadu-based player was one among the 10 RCB players who worked out at the nets, with Kumble leading the pack. Besides the skipper and Sriram, Karnataka all-rounder B Akhil and Uttar Pradesh lad Bhuvneshwar Kumar were the camp attendees who had made the cut for the 23-member squad for the initial stage. The rest who turned out for the camp were former India player Sunil Joshi, Goan pacer Saurabh Bhandekar, the hard-hitting Rajasthan bat Rajesh Bishnoi, Jharkhand batsman Ishant Jaggi, UP leggie Karan Sharma and left-arm spinner Nayan Joshi.
The current Karnataka players were given a two-day break after their Vijay Hazare assignment. The camp will gather further steam on March 5 as many of the outstation players are set to join then while most of the foreign recruits would join just four or five days before the first encounter on March 14.