Bangalore Challengers have it all worked out

April 9th, 2008 - 1:18 pm ICT by admin  

(Team Profile)

Bangalore, April 9 (IANS) With proven Twenty20 performers like Mark Boucher, Dale Steyn, Nathan Bracken and Misbah-ul-Haq in its ranks, Bangalore Royal Challengers are confident they can take on all other teams in the inaugural Indian Premier League (IPL) starting April 18. The tourney kicks off with a home game for them against Kolkata Knight Riders.

Vijay Mallya paid $111.6 million to own the team for 10 years, but then spent a relatively meagre $3.6 million in the players’ auctions.

The team management thinks it has got a good deal and has its strategies all worked out.

Bracken, Steyn and Zaheer Khan can bowl well in the death overs and that’s ideal for the shortest version of the game. Though Bracken’s injury has made him unavailable for the first part of the league, the team’s chief executive Charu Sharma said the Aussie speedster would be available midway through the league.

“As of now the injury will keep him out till May. We will speak to his doctor and we are hopeful that he will be fit by then,” Sharma told IANS.

Sharma was happy with the current form of the team’s overseas players.

“It is great news that all our foreign players are in good touch, but we don’t want them overstressed when they turn out for Royal Challengers. We want them to enjoy the game and we know they are all match winners.”

As for the availability of the overseas players, Sharma said: “We were aware of the fact that all players won’t be available right through the tournament. Some would be available at the start of the season, some in the middle and some others at the end of the season. So we are not worrying about it.”

Strengths: The mix of youth and experience is the strength of the team that has concentrated more on its batsmen than its bowlers. Young players like Goswami, Kohli, Ross Taylor and Cameron White can score runs quickly to complement the solid, experienced hands like Kallis and Dravid. The presence of young players makes the team an exuberant fielding side.

Weaknesses: Despite some big names, bowling seems to be the weak link. Bracken is recovering from a foot injury and the availability of Steyn and Kallis for the full league is not guaranteed. Zaheer is also making a comeback from injury, which forced him to miss the home series against South Africa. Anil Kumble and swing bowler Parveen Kumar, a sensation in the recent Commonwealth Bank Series in Australia, have to shoulder the responsibilities.

Overseas players to watch out for:

Mark Boucher: He has a bagful of records. Last October he broke Australian Ian Healy’s record for most Test dismissals in his 103rd match against Pakistan. At the age of 31, he is an asset for South Africa in every form of the game.

Dale Steyn: His rise in international cricket was as fast as his bowling speed. Steyn is leading the renaissance of genuine fast bowlers in South Africa, which was on the decline after the retirement of Allan Donald and Fannie De Villiers. Steyn has gone past Allan Donald’s record of the quickest South African to 100 Test wickets.

Misbah-ul-Haq: He made his debut for Pakistan in 2001 but went into oblivion after a string of dismal scores. Four years later he caught the selectors’ eye after a run-filled domestic season. He was surprisingly selected in place of Mohammed Yousuf in the Twenty20 World Championship and nearly won the title for Pakistan in South Africa.

Indian players to watch out for:

Zaheer Khan: After Srinath’s retirement Zaheer took over as spearhead of India’s pace battery and performed with distinction. Though his career has been dogged by injuries, his never-say-die-attitude is what helped him make a comeback to the national side in 2006. Zaheer’s yorkers are accurate and his ability to bowl in the death overs will come in handy.

Virat Kohli: The captain of the under-19 World Cup winning team has proved that he is ready to join the seniors. His attacking flair, clubbed with a cool head, has made him a mature cricketer. Being an athletic fielder gives him another advantage.

Sreevats Goswami: A key member of the under-19 World Cup-winning squad, this Kolkata opening batsman and good wicketkeeper brings a lot of exuberance to the side.

Team jersey: Red and golden yellow.

Captain: Rahul Dravid

Indian players: Anil Kumble ($500,000), Zaheer Khan ($400,000), Wasim Jaffer ($150,000), Praveen Kumar, Sunil Joshi, B. Akhil, Vinay Kumar, Devraj Patil, Bharat Chipli, K.P. Appanna, B. Arun Kumar, Virat Kohli, Sreevats Goswami

Overseas players: Jacques Kallis (South Africa, $900,000), Mark Boucher (South Africa, $450,000), Dale Steyn (South Africa, $325,000), Nathan Bracken (Australia, $325,000), Cameron White (Australia, $500,000), Shivnarine Chanderpaul (West Indies, $200,000), Misbah-ul Haq (Pakistan, $180,000), Abdur Razzak (Bangladesh, $50,000), Ross Taylor (New Zealand, $100,000)

Chief Cricket Officer: Martin Crowe

Coach: Venkatesh Prasad

(Attn Editors: Beginning April 9, IANS is starting a series featuring the eight teams in the inaugural IPL tournament that starts April 18. One team will be featured each morning, detailing its state of preparation, strengths, weaknesses, main players and other highlights.)

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