On Tuesday, all of Bangalore, a sleepy city at the best of times, will shut down. It’s Ugadi, the day Kannadigas celebrate the dawn of the new year. For the Royal Challengers Bangalore, the day is the real beginning of their campaign in IPL III. After a loss in their first match, at the Eden Gardens, Anil Kumble and his team take the field at home for the first time in the year.
“It’s a public holiday, banks and offices are closed, the demand for tickets and passes is huge,” a Karnataka player, who was waiting to meet officials and collect passes for his family, said. The M. Chinnaswamy Stadium was a hive of activity a day before the game, with TV crew laying a million miles of cable and sound engineers testing their systems by playing the latest Bollywood numbers at ear-splitting decibel levels.
For most of the morning, the Kings XI sweated it out on an unusually warm day. The extended three-hour session forced the players to push themselves hard, whether it was in fielding drills or in the nets.
With the fresh season having just got under way, it’s too early in the day to seriously look at the points table. However, both the Kings XI and the Royal Challengers need a win, if only to ease the anxiety of their respective fans.
For the Kings XI, Brett Lee’s continued unavailability puts extra pressure on the remaining bowlers. “Lee has gone to Sydney to consult his surgeon and the medical report is awaited. We should get the report in a couple of days, and anticipate his return in 10 days,” Kings XI coach Tom Moody said.
In the batting department, though, the signs were ominous, as Yuvraj, even with his left hand still sporting a bandage, clattered the bowling to all parts. “I’m just reminding myself that I can hit the ball far,” Yuvraj told HT after practice. “It’s good to make sure from time to time.”
For the Royal Challengers, who finished their game in Kolkata late on Sunday night and flew home on Monday morning, the day was spent in rest and recuperation. Come Tuesday, they’ll need all their energy, if they don’t want to disappoint what promises to be a packed house of passionate supporters.