AB de Villiers is likely to captain Royal Challengers Bangalore in the first few games of the Indian Premier League 2017 if Virat Kohli fails to recover in time from his shoulder injury.
The Indian skipper will join the Royal Challengers Bangalore squad on April 2, but the team’s coach, Daniel Vettori, said that Virat Kohli’s availability will depend on the health assessment by BCCI doctors and physios.
“Right now, we don’t have a clear picture on his availability. We will know in the next few days. The likely scenario is that AB de Villiers will take over the duties, but we will answer that once we find out if Virat is out,” Vettori said.
“He will come in on April 2. Between now and then, BCCI doctors and physio will speak to us and our medical staff will get a clearer picture,” he added.
RCB have already been dealt a blow after reports that KL Rahul will be unavailable for the season. Team sources told PTI that the opener will travel to London to undergo surgery.
The 24-year old had hurt his left shoulder five weeks ago, in the first Test against Australia, but continued to play through pain for the rest of the series.
Owing to these injuries, youngster Sarfaraz Khan could get an opportunity early on in the tournament.
“Sarfaraz has been really good. At the back end of the domestic season he started to put some runs on the board. Everyone knows how talented he is. With possible injuries, he could get an opportunity early on in the tournament,” Vettori said.
Enough bench strength
Vettori also added the side has enough bench strength to manage in Kohli’s absence as its boasts of some exceptional batsmen including Sarfaraz and Mandeep Singh, who haven’t had many chances coming their way.
“Fortunately, we have a number of exceptional batsmen who haven’t got many playing chances, like Sarfaraz Khan and Mandeep Singh. It is a huge asset for us that someone else can fill in those gaps,” he said.
Vettori said Kohli and KL Rahul are accustomed to the rigours of international schedule.
“They are accustomed to this. Virat has played for the country for so long, so he is familiar with the rigours of international schedule and the IPL. Yet, he still performs well like we saw last year,” he said.
“KL too was part of the Test squad in the past. Most important thing is that they are fit and prepared for this. If we give small mental breaks for them now and then (it will be enough). Physically, I think they will be fine. We will just try to keep it as relaxed and calm as possible,” he said.
Vettori said it is important that players get rest because they have to play about 15 matches and managing them becomes that much important,” he said.
“It is going to be an incredibly busy April because we have to play around 15 games. Managing players is important. Possibly more than anything is giving the rest that players need. We won’t overdo it. For now, we’ll build up to a great game on the fifth,” he said.
(With PTI inputs)