Match to Match - RCB March on to Dharamshala
RCB aim to extend their continuous winning streak of a record 7 matches as they take on Kings XI Punjab in Dharamshala
After the Jaipur match which the Royal Challengers Bangalore won in a breeze, the team caught an early morning flight. There were a few surprised people who wondered why a 5:30 am departure to the airport was necessary, considering they’d played a night game and finished late! Those doubts were put to rest when they were told that the flight to Bengaluru was a direct one. If choosing a later flight they would have to go through Delhi.
Well, nobody particularly wanted to spend a total of six hours, including transit, by taking a later morning flight and getting to Bengaluru even later. So, all the merry making marking the win against the Rajasthan Royals was to be controlled and a wakeup with 4 hours sleep imminent for everyone. Well, if wanting to stay awake till later, the player would have even less sleep.
After night matches finish at 11:30 pm, there is the captain’s press conference which does not finish before 12:15 pm. Therefore even when the team hotel is close to the venue, they are guaranteed of reaching the hotel no earlier than 12:30 am. Give another 15 min if you’re quick for a shower and change and then, there’s usually a need for the player to keep his bags ready and outside his room by about 2:00 pm; these bags, including kits are sent to the airport well in advance since it’s a large consignment from a total of 15 players!
So, the quickest a player may be ready, considering he has packed most of his stuff well in advance earlier in the day is 1:00 am. Now, one needs a little mental rest so you might as well sit around outside and relax with friends for another half hour. So, it’s your decision if you want to stay awake and catch the flight without sleep! Of course, most players prefer to get the available sleep of two or three hours!
One can argue that the players are now used to it and of course, the bait, financial and honour is good enough for them to stay charged. But a closer look would reveal that perhaps there is room to space out any single team’s matches better. For that complete experience! After all, players too would benefit by taking in the match’s happenings in the afterglow that stays at least 12 hours after.
Anyway, once back in the Bengaluru hotel, at a very good time of 12:30 pm, the team of course felt relieved. ‘Home’ and lunch in familiar locations. Amazing, the marvels of air travel! Just 12 hours ago they were getting back to the Jaipur hotel after a match and here they were in a totally different part of the country and well on time for lunch. Seemed like time travel!
Of course, the fatigue, physical, but more mental, was there. Some players preferred to get some sleep I the afternoon. An optional nets session was held the same evening where some players attended. The next day, one day prior to the home match against the Kolkata Knight Riders, there was to be a regular nets session in the evening. But a heavy downpour washed out any chances.
Some players preferred to get some indoor nets practice, well essentially batting. There’s no real scope for bowlers, lesser even pace bowlers to take their full runups in the indoor practice area, therefore, there’s no real bowling practice to be had.
The schedule therefore leaves teams with no option for a fully spaced out and isolated practice session in the event that a shower washed out the only one. No backup days.
Considering the match against KKR was to be a 4 pm starter, there’s no scope for a morning practice session (the team leaves the hotel at 1:45 pm). Therefore teams in this imbroglio try to get some practice by reaching the ground a little in advance before the match.
Well, lack of backup practice days is one of the lesser factors in team preparation as they stay relatively match-fit and match-ready with the continuous cricket. But of course, it’s a debate about whether players would be able to benefit better and be more relaxed and skills-refreshed for matches if they had the benefit of isolated practice sessions.
One thing of course that helps them recover faster is that a T20 occupies a player mentally for only three and a half hours of match time. Even if physical exertion is more than that of a 50-over match on a proportionate basis. Therefore, the train rumbles on.
A successful outing against the Kolkata Knight Riders in the afternoon of Saturday, 14th May repeated last week’s pattern when the previous home match had been played at this opportune time. The players finished the rain-hit game at 8:30 pm and although a full hour behind their expected return schedule were not too badly hit. After all, those who had the stamina would come for the after match get-together which was coupled with a fashion show.
AB de Villiers and Virat were the prominent stars who attended and also present were Brett Lee, Jacquis Kallis and Mark Boucher, the latter two, former RCB players. One by one, these players were called onto stage so that everybody could catch a glimpse of their favourite stars.
Luke Pommersbach who had made his debut for RCB just hours earlier also came and interacted with most of the players. Mithun, Mayank, Ryan, Arvind, Bharat Naryan, CM Gautham and Abrar Kazi, all Karnataka players from the franchise’s catchment area (except Mithun representing a ‘capped player by India’) hung around for a few minutes and decided dinner would be the path since the next morning’s flight to Dharamsala would be at 6:30 am. Syed Mohammed strutted around and enjoyed some quiet banter with his teammates, all of whom were hoping he’d be fit to play again.
Dharamshala provides some of the best scenery in the country, probably comparable to the best of cricket grounds in the world. To get here, the flight connection is through New Delhi and then to Kangra airport, a base town about 30 kilometres from Dharamshala. Next was a drive to the team hotel in the latter.
The lovely backdrop of the mountains here has been seen on TV by most people in the country, however, the experience of a visit here will keep you gaping. The town is of course famous for being the abode of His Holiness the Dalai Lama. Dharmasala has acted as a place of refuge to several Tibetans.
There was some changing of hotels by the team since the newly finished one did not have some aspects complete. Anyway, the team soon got down to practice. The players are confident of a good show in the match against Kings XI Punjab. Hope the fans get to see what they want.