It is a start the Bangalore team could have done without. Two days before the IPL opener here between the Rahul Dravid-led team and the Kolkata outfit led by Sourav Ganguly, the hosts will be without two of their strike bowlers.
Test captain Anil Kumble has still not recovered from the groin strain that ruled him out of the third Test against South Africa in Kanpur and will miss the lung opener on Friday. The ace leg-spinner is also likely to sit out of the second game in Mumbai on April 20. But he is expected to turn out for the third match against Rajasthan here on April 26.
Dravid said on Wednesday that National Cricket Academy physio Paul Chapman was monitoring Kumble's progress. "Anil will miss the first game definitely," he said. "We will take a decision that is best for him and he should be in a position to play in the next four to five days."
Bangalore will also miss Australian left-arm swing bowler Nathan Bracken due to a knee injury for the first few matches while Dale Steyn, South Africa's pace spearhead, has returned home to fulfil his commitments in Cricket South Africa's Twenty20 competition.
Zaheer Khan, who ruled himself out of the Test series against South Africa following a heel injury, is returning to shape and Wednesday's practice match under lights will give an indication on his state.
The unavailability of leading players has left Dravid, coach Venkatesh Prasad and chief cricket officer Martin Crowe in a spot.
Crowe said, "A week ago, we had only three international players, today we also have Mark Boucher and Jacques Kallis, so that is a change for the better. We are going to be very upfront and transparent about this. The IPL over 44 days, is not a sprint, it is a marathon. It is quite a long time and opportunity will come to all the players at some stage or the other."
Dravid said the uncertainty had thrown a challenge but "we have luckily covered most of our bases".The former India captain also clarified his remarks about the player
auction. "I hope it (auction) does not happen again," is what he is reported to have said during an interaction in Chennai.
"I don't think I said it like that. It was an off-the-cuff answer to a young girl's question.
“The answer was taken out of context. The auction was a unique thing, it happens in football, American sport and in a franchise concept it was necessary to do something like this and ensure everyone had a level playing field."