Zaheer Khan never looked a T20 fan. After the first three games of the IPL, it doesn't seem his view has changed. A terror in the just-concluded World Cup, he has watched helplessly as batsmen, who would have danced to his tune in the longer versions, have take him apart in the IPL.
Zaheer’s mood reflects that of his team, the Royal Challengers Bangalore. Boasting of a strong line-up on paper, it has been a poor start, losing two of the three games. These are early days but Twenty20 is a format where momentum is the key.
It’s a new beginning for most teams after the auction and the challenge for the new-look RCB is to find the combination which will make them into a formidable unit.
Despite the presence of stars like Tillakaratne Dilshan, AB de Villiers, Virat Kohli, Saurabh Tiwary, Cheteshwar Pujara, Daniel Vettori, Zaheer, Dirk Nannes and Johan van der Wath, the runs are not coming, nor have they been successful in stemming the run flow while defending.
As they run into defending champions Chennai Super Kings, the RCB think-tank is still wrestling with combination questions — who should partner Zaheer, whether to have a three-pronged pace attack or two frontline spinners? Who should bat at No. 6 and 7?
The Super Kings also lost their last match, but will still start favourites, having a settled combination at their disposal.
The defeat against Kings XI Punjab was due to a blinder played by a player rather than a cohesive effort of the opposition, and seasoned CSK campaigners aren’t too worried. Also, they’ve been boosted by the arrival of their Australia recruits, Mike Hussey and Doug Bollinger.
“Having a settled combination will surely be an advantage though it is diminishing game by game as the other teams understand each other. I am sure Daniel (Vettori) will be working out on finding the right combination.
“We are happy to have our majority of players back as they know how the environment works in the team. We feel that we have been maintaining the success rate over the last three years,” said CSK coach Stephen Fleming.
RCB captain Daniel Vettori said, “They (Chennai) are the champions and a very strong side. But the Punjab Kings XI showed that they are not invincible.”