Virat Kohli’s Royal Challengers Bangalore take on Kolkata Knight Riders in their opening game of the 2018 Indian Premier League (IPL) on Sunday.(BCCI)
Virat Kohli’s Royal Challengers Bangalore take on Kolkata Knight Riders in their opening game of the 2018 Indian Premier League (IPL) on Sunday.(BCCI)

IPL 2018: Virat Kohli’s Royal Challengers Bangalore take fresh guard against Kolkata Knight Riders

Virat Kohli believes Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) are balanced after buying more bowlers at the IPL 2018 auction, while Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) look to start afresh under new captain Dinesh Karthik.
Hindustan Times, Kolkata | By Dhiman Sarkar
UPDATED ON APR 08, 2018 12:00 AM IST

It is a sign of how much teams have changed in IPL 11 that Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) are talking of a strong bowling unit and that Gautam Gambhir and Chris Gayle won’t be at Eden Gardens when Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) host them on Sunday. (IPL 2018 FULL COVERAGE)

For seven seasons, they were synonymous with their franchises; Gambhir turning KKR around in the way that looked impossible after the first three seasons and Gayle whipping up storms for RCB as regularly as nor’westers hit the city at this time of the year. It did on Saturday too, the blustery conditions curtailing teams’ training plans.

With an eye on the future, both teams changed the old order. “He (Chris) did a great job for RCB but the team dynamic for next three years was taken into consideration before making this decision. We thought infusing new people in the team would give us the balance we require and strengthen areas we wanted to,” said RCB skipper Virat Kohli. RCB, Kohli said, are now looking to being a unit and not rely on one or two people.

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So, they bought Colin de Grandhomme, Chris Woakes, Nathan Coulter-Nile and Umesh Yadav. Kohli said being dismissed for 49 here last term was something they put behind that night itself but in poaching the KKR quartet who did them may be a pointer to how much that April night influenced RCB’s recalibration. “You could be pleasantly surprised to see our bowling dominate this IPL,” said Kohli.

KKR too opted for change with an eye on the next three years. “Like anything, 10 years is a long time in cricket and the game does move in different directions,” said KKR’s assistant coach Simon Katich on Friday.

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“This is a fresh start for all of us. As captain, I will have to be calm. A good takeaway for that is the innings in Colombo (for India where he scored 29 off eight balls),” said KKR’s new skipper Dinesh Karthik.

It was the moisture in the wicket that perhaps contributed to RCB’s capitulation and given that rain is also forecast on Sunday, who knows how what both captains said was a good wicket would behave?

Kohli to bat at No. 3

With the presence of specialists openers in Brendon McCullum, Quinton de Kock, Parthiv Patel, Mandeep Singh and Manan Vohra, Kohli said he would bat at No. 3. Kohli opened for RCB in seven of the 11 games he played last term and accumulated 1750 runs in 43 IPL innings batting at the top but said it was something he had to do.

“I have done well for India at No. 3 and have a good understanding of playing in that position so I see myself predominantly at a No. 3,” he said on Saturday.

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