IPL 2021: Virat Kohli expects young India trio to raise level playing for RCB
Virat Kohli’s Royal Challengers Bangalore prepare to face up to the one challenge they have to year after year–dealing with the pressure of not having won the Indian Premier League title.
There is more optimism in the camp this time. New faces have made them a stronger outfit and RCB are better off playing at neutral venues (defending totals on the smaller home ground, M Chinnaswamy Stadium, has been a disadvantage). On the eve of the tournament, skipper Virat Kohli spelt out another vital factor that he is banking on for his side to put up a good show—some of RCB’s key young players have grown in stature since the last edition played five months ago.
Mohammed Siraj, Washington Sundar and Navdeep Saini have returned to the RCB fold as Test cricketers. Their exploits in Australia, and against England at home, have made them household names in India, and they are brimming with confidence.
“From my experience I can vouch that when you do well for your national team, it is always an exciting time to come into IPL. That is something that I gained as a youngster… bring that confidence that I gained at the international level back into the IPL set-up. Watching guys like Siraj, Washy and Saini come into their own—you want these guys to show their personality and confidence on the field for RCB as well. That way we can pull together stronger as a team. Very exciting that our youngsters have become confident because of their (international) experience; now the oppositions know that these are the guys who can make an impact in any situation, which obviously is a great sign for us,” said Kohli, ahead of the IPL opener against champions Mumbai Indians at the MA Chidambaram Stadium in Chennai.
Siraj and Sundar played starring roles in India’s famous victory in the deciding final Test at Brisbane. The pace bowler led an inexperienced attack with a five-wicket haul in the second innings while all-rounder Sundar had kept India in the game with a fighting 62 and three wickets in the first innings.
All three are key in the RCB set-up. Siraj, who won his India selection on the basis of his performances in the last IPL, is incisive with the new ball. Saini, who too shone in the series, generates sharp pace while Washington is very effective bowling off-spin in the powerplay phase and is a handy batsman.
Kohli said he is excited and relaxed “with the resources we have and the strength of our team”.
The India captain predicted another competitive IPL season due to the neutral venues, like the previous edition that was played in the UAE. “There is nothing like playing at M Chinnaswamy Stadium in front of your home crowd. The fans are going to miss watching us play.
“(But) One good thing is we are back in India, and one more positive thing about this edition is like last year is there is no home advantage, every team is playing at neutral venues. The strength of your squad comes to the fore, precisely why the last IPL was so competitive. Till the last three-to-four games everyone was in the reckoning to qualify, which I think is great for the tournament,” Kohli told a virtual media conference.
“The viewership went through the roof, which I am expecting to be the case this time as well. Having done well last year in such a competitive scenario, we’re very confident as a side, with a stronger squad this time, of having another great season.”