Bengaluru: A B de Villiers is likely to lead Royal Challengers Bangalore in the initial phase of Indian Premier League 10 in case Virat Kohli fails to recover from a shoulder injury.
Another bad news for RCB could be KL Rahul’s unavailability, also due to a shoulder injury. Team sources said the India opener will soon be travelling to London to undergo surgery. The 24-year old had hurt his left shoulder five weeks ago, in the first Test against Australia, but continued to play through pain for the rest of the series.
Regarding Kohli, RCB coach Daniel Vettori said, “Right now, we don’t have a clear picture on his availability. We will know in the next few days. The likely scenario is that AB de Villiers will take over the duties, but we will answer that once we find out if Virat is out.”
The Indian captain will join the team on April 2, but his availability will depend on the health assessment of BCCI doctors and physios, Vettori said.
“He will come in on April 2. Between now and then, BCCI doctors and physio will speak to us and our medical staff will get a clearer picture,” he said.
Kohli hurt his right shoulder during the third Test of the series against Australia in Ranchi. Owing to these injuries, Sarfaraz Khan could get an opportunity early on in the tournament, for he has been really good this domestic season, Vettori said.
“Sarfaraz has been really good. At the back end of the domestic season he started to put some runs on the board. Everyone knows how talented he is. With possible injuries, he could get an opportunity early on in the tournament,” he said.
Vettori also said the side has enough bench strength to manage in Kohli’s absence as its boasts of some exceptional batsmen including Sarfaraz and Mandeep Singh, who haven’t had many chances coming their way.
“Fortunately, we have a number of exceptional batsmen who haven’t got many playing chances, like Sarfaraz Khan and Mandeep Singh. It is a huge asset for us that someone else can fill in those gaps,” he said.
Vettori said Kohli and KL Rahul are accustomed to the rigours of international schedule.
“They are accustomed to this. Virat has played for the country for so long, so he is familiar with the rigours of international schedule and the IPL. Yet, he still performs well like we saw last year,” he said.
“KL too was part of the Test squad in the past. Most important thing is that they are fit and prepared for this. If we give small mental breaks for them now and then (it will be enough). Physically, I think they will be fine. We will just try to keep it as relaxed and calm as possible,” he said.
Vettori said it is important that players get rest because they have to play about 15 matches and managing them becomes that much important,” he said.
“It is going to be an incredibly busy April because we have to play around 15 games. Managing players is important. Possibly more than anything is giving the rest that players need. We won’t overdo it. For now, we’ll build up to a great game on the fifth,” he said.
On Mitchell Starc’s absence, Vettori said Tymal Mills will have to fill in the shoes of the Australian pacer, and he would fit into the scheme of things.
“I hope so. We don’t want to put that sort of pressure on him. Starc is a top-class bowler and Mills is only finding his way into international and franchise cricket now. We want him to do well, but he will go about it in a different way than what Mitchell did,” he said.
“It wasn’t just us bidding for him. A lot of teams had scouted him and understood that he was a good player, how he could be effective for a team. It is always nice to be popular, isn’t it? I have known him from Brisbane Heat, got a really good feel for him as a person and a player. He will fit in really well with our group,” Vettori added.
Replying to a query, Vettori said having a lot of overseas bowling options is not a headache, but gives the team an opportunity to manage their fast bowlers.
“Having a lot of overseas options, is not a headache. It just gives us an opportunity to manage our fast bowlers, going by how tough our schedule is.
“We have got Billy Stanlake, Tymal, Adam Milne and Samuel Badree … all proven performers. I am sure they will all get an opportunity,” he said.