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War at Wankhede: RC exudes confidence

By Vikram Afzulpurkar

On a high, Royal Challengers Bangalore take on their previous opponents and defending champions Chennai Super Kings, this time in Mumbai’s Wankhede stadium.

Team Royal Challengers enjoys a quiet confidence, especially after their win against Chennai Super Kings in the last league match on 22 May 2011. Not only had they come back strongly in the early part of the tournament, they’d also avenged their failure against MS Dhoni’s men in Chennai. The reversal at Dharamsala against Kings XI Punjab now took a backseat and was relegated to the now trendy slang of having had an “off day.” Meaning of course that the team wasn’t on holiday but played “off” their mark!

By Vikram Afzulpurkar

On a high, Royal Challengers Bangalore take on their previous opponents and defending champions Chennai Super Kings, this time in Mumbai’s Wankhede stadium.

Team Royal Challengers enjoys a quiet confidence, especially after their win against Chennai Super Kings in the last league match on 22 May 2011. Not only had they come back strongly in the early part of the tournament, they’d also avenged their failure against MS Dhoni’s men in Chennai. The reversal at Dharamsala against Kings XI Punjab now took a backseat and was relegated to the now trendy slang of having had an “off day.” Meaning of course that the team wasn’t on holiday but played “off” their mark!

Therefore, the Bengaluru team was denied the extended record of what would have been nine successive wins, but now who cares? Even the purists might agree that a loss would have educated them like no success would. Good education for what might eventually be a title romp!

The boys stayed up after the Bengaluru game and used the opportunity of a dinner cum fashion show to discuss things. Well, they have a lot of team meetings, but the opportunity to talk in a light environment is a different thing. Many of them were seen waving out to friends and acquaintances.

The next morning, 23rd May, on the eve of their departure to Mumbai for their next match, there was a speciality involved – all 24 of the extended squad, instead of the usual 15 members would tour from this point on. Yes, the team is in the semi finals, where most team Managements extend this courtesy. The word ‘qualifier’ may bemuse casual observers, giving the impression they have yet to make the semi-final. Of course true fans of RC would know they already have.

‘Qualifiers,’ in reference to the cricket match has displaced the word ‘semi-finals’ in this edition of the IPL; the organizers have formulated a unique tournament climax where the top two teams get ‘another shot’ just in case they lose one semi-final. All good reward for consistent work.

The team reached the South Mumbai hotel at 2:30 pm and had three hours to catch a rest, unpack and sort their laundry. At 6:00 pm was a practice session scheduled under lights at the Wankhede stadium. Back at the Wankhede stadium, renovated a few months ago, Ray took a good look at the pitch while directing nets and even correcting some strokes. “Keep the head down,” may sound like basics coaching but even experienced cricketers may not get it right every time. The Coach ensured the batters went about their task correctly.

The humidity of Mumbai, while being close to Chennai’s, was of course a first for this bunch. Not that they hadn’t come here as individuals or with state junior sides and some with the Indian team. Don’t forget even Indian skipper MS Dhoni had developed cramps at the World Cup final at this very venue. Well, the team pyshio Evan Speechley definitely kept himself busy rushing around with Gatorade for the younger players and also soothing their muscles after a bowling or batting session.

One thing is on evidence: the entire RC think tank is here – Ray apart, Chief Mentor Anil Kumble, Bowling Coach Venky Prasad, Assistant Coach Jono and Vijay Bharadwaj, the chief talent scout. The breakfast table setting is worth seeing – terabytes of information pass on from table to table and chair to chair!

Ray Jennings' Assessment

Earlier, during the evening of practice, Ray stressed that our bowlers have the skills to get the job done. They merely needed to stay connected to make that happen. He commented that Zaheer Khan had had a week off and as a result was looking fresher than usual and it showed in his performance on 22 May against Chennai; he got the early breakthrough of Mike Hussey to put their team under pressure.

“Zak needed to be supported and Arvind did that very well and so did Mithun and Dan.” Ray also felt that as long as CSK didn’t threaten to reach 140 in Bengaluru, it wouldn’t have hurt RC. Dhoni didn’t have enough partners as wickets kept falling regularly. The last few overs would be a slog but none too threatening.

Ray said the new opening combination in AB de Villiers opening with Chris Gayle was “one of the options that didn’t come good on the day.” However, the Coach knew that de Villiers’s excellent handling of spin would help counter R Ashwin’s opening overs’ spin bowling.

Ray also said that although electing to bowl first ended up being a good decision, it was more important to bat, bowl and field well. “The toss is not always that important. Never rely upon it!” The coach was full of respect for the ‘wounded’ Chennai Super Kings side, saying they batted deep and were a very balanced side.

Ray is also very happy with Dan Vettori’s captaincy and team preparation. He deflected the question of predicting a possible score if RC bat first in the first qualifier on 24th May against Chennai in Mumbai, saying “We will get a good start which is so important in T20, consolidate well in the middle overs and keep wickets in hand to keep their bowlers under pressure. “It will be interesting to see how they use Bollinger and Ashwin,” said the South African veteran.

The Coach was also not worried about the nature of the pitch because his team had played here several times before and knew “what it would do.” He admitted it would turn more than most pitches in India have been doing this season. RC fans can’t wait for another climactic match.

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Latest comments

definitely its a war but team which performs well on that day will reach finals since both are capable doing it...
RakeshRCB on 27 May 2011, 10:10 AM
One more match with mumbai really tufff ..........win the match rcb!!!
sanju14 on 27 May 2011, 01:33 AM
We will win for Sure.. RCB always game for more.. Guys just be confident....
Avakash on 26 May 2011, 10:01 PM
One more match with mumbai really tufff
krishnasa1 on 26 May 2011, 08:26 PM
now beating mumbai is tough
kkrcb on 26 May 2011, 06:01 PM
get ready to chennai for a spinner friendly track
anand-seshadri on 26 May 2011, 11:40 AM
rcb is dis seasons most entertaining team...
dibs on 26 May 2011, 10:31 AM
lotz of questions arising in match of kkr n mi...hope the bst faces rcb....rcb will bounce back to take up da challenge!!
vki009 on 26 May 2011, 06:51 AM
entertainment guaranteed
krishnasa1 on 26 May 2011, 06:31 AM
beat the winner of eliminator and enter the finals.......
vAish322 on 25 May 2011, 09:29 PM
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