Both Cape Cobras and Royal Challengers Bangalore, who face-off in the Champions League T20 opener on Thursday, have suffered setbacks in losing their star batsmen.
Cobras’ loss of skipper Graeme Smith is dearer than the RCB’s loss of their hard-hitting Kiwi opener, Jesse Ryder. Smith, who has a good experience of Indian conditions, thanks to the IPL, is recovering from an elbow surgery, while Ryder suffered a groin injury during the Champions Trophy. Left-hand opening batsman Andrew Puttick will lead the Cobras in Smith’s absence and rookie medium-pacer Bhuvneshwar Kumar has been named as Ryder’s replacement.
The RCB made a stunning comeback to reach the IPL-II final despite losing four of their first five games. Kumble now faces another daunting task of forging a winning combination against a cohesive Cobras unit on Thursday.