It’s time for IPL 9, and at RCB we believe this will be the year when we realise our potential. We have a well-balanced squad with enough talent to go one better than our previous best performances when we finished runners-up in 2009 and 2011.
New players such as Shane Watson, Stuart Binny and Samuel Badree have injected confidence into the organisation, and there is great energy among the players and coaching staff. We understand why we have underperformed in recent campaigns, and believe our time has come.
Everybody agrees RCB have a strong batting and bowling, and the arrival of Shane and Stuart give us all-round strength in the middle as well. Of course, we will miss a world-class bowler like Mitchell Starc, who has a foot injury, but his absence creates an opportunity for Adam Milne, Varun Aaron, Kane Richardson and Sreenath Aravind.
I am desperate to win an IPL title but know it will happen one match at a time. We won’t fall into the trap of looking too far ahead, and tripping over the step in front of us. We’ll keep our focus on doing the next task well.
It won’t be easy. Most of the franchises have been refreshed, for various reasons, and I don’t think anyone really knows how any of the teams are going to perform. There are new combinations everywhere and it feels as if, on any given day, anybody can beat anybody.
The days before the launch of an IPL season are always packed with photo shoots for sponsors and other appearances. I love our new kit where the blue has been replaced by black, and just want to get stuck into what has become the most consistently exciting tournament in world cricket.
It’s great to be back in the Garden City. Bengaluru is a fantastic city and it was an honour to play my 100th Test for South Africa at the Chinnaswamy Stadium at the end of last year. It has become my home away from home and this IPL season it does feel like home because wife Danielle and young son AB Jr are here with me.
(The writer is South Africa’s Test & ODI captain)