The Royal Challengers Bangalore will need to win their opener against Guyana on Sunday for two reasons. First, to give themselves a good start; second, to check the annoying notion that IPL's put-together teams aren't good enough to compete against the teams that eat, drink and play cricket together round the year.
The uneasy question has resurfaced after the loss of the Mumbai Indians to the Highveld Lions in the inaugural tie. Well, to raise this question so early on might seem a bit cynical, but two things make this relevant. First, IPL teams are heading into the tournament with baggage from the last edition where all of them were knocked out. So it was imperative to start off with flying colours to nip the notion in the bud. Secondly, the star-studded Mumbai Indians lost to one of the most low profile teams in the championship.
"The IPL teams comprise players from all cultures from across the world. They aren't together like we are all the time. As for us, we are always together in good and bad times, always play as a team," said Lions skipper Alviro Petersen, suggesting the edge they enjoyed over the put-together teams.
Mumbai Indians' JP Duminy, though, doesn't see it as too big an advantage. "It's just that the Lions were the better team on the day," he said. There, however, could be no denying the fact that non-IPL teams are better prepared. While the IPL teams came together at best ten days before the tournament, the non-IPL teams may have been preparing for months. And that showed on the field, as the Mumbai Indians looked rusty. "Yes, we were a bit rusty on the field, and that cost us dear," said Duminy.
Besides, the fact that Champions League is the only stage where they can showcase their talent is an added incentive driving them to play out of their skins. "It's a huge platform for us to get noticed the world over. If we do well here, we might get picked up for IPL teams," said Jean Symas, a Lions player. All in all, it might be too early to ring alarm bells for the IPL teams, but the Lions' triumph has already made it clear that the Champions League is going to be anything but easy for them.