IPL 2020 | ‘Skipper Virat Kohli can tap into Aaron Finch’s experience’, says RCB director Mike Hesson
IPL 2020: Coping with anxiety after the long break due to Covid-19 will be the challenge for players as Royal Challengers Bangalore resume quest for their first IPL title, say head coach Simon Katich and Hesson.Updated: Aug 26, 2020, 21:01 IST
For a team with Virat Kohli at the helm, success has surprisingly eluded Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) in the Indian Premier League. Despite all the star power, they are yet to toast victory in the T20 tournament, whose 13th edition will kick off in the UAE on September 19.
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RCB have a fresh look with former New Zealand coach Mike Hesson the new team director and ex-Australia batsman Simon Katich the head coach. They admitted, in a video conference from Dubai where the team is based, that they had discussed RCB’s past shortcomings.
“Between Simon, myself and Virat we have spent an awful lot of time looking at the way we want to build the squad and play the game. We are well aware of history but it’s more about making sure we have got a squad that is balanced and strong in all conditions. A squad that can fight in the phases where the game’s on line,” said Hesson, who guided New Zealand to the 2015 World Cup final.
Kohli will open with Australia’s Aaron Finch. “We were looking for guys at the top of their game in international cricket. Finch was high on that list (in auction). As a player and captain, he has done well for Australia. He is a good player of spin and brings leadership in the group. It will help Virat,” said Hesson.
“Having senior players around him will take the load off him.”
RCB will start their training at the ICC Cricket Academy in Dubai in a couple of days after the mandatory quarantine period ends. They have a squad of 21 players with 16 already in the UAE.
Katich said: “The first challenge will be the extreme heat we are experiencing here. Players are used to it in India but it will certainly be a challenge given that they have not played cricket for a long time. They are coming back from a big break (which can affect) not only from the skills point of view but also from the mental side of the game.”
“We were planning for half of the games at the M Chinnaswamy stadium, which is a very good batting wicket. The history of the grounds indicates the par scores are lower here.”
With Covid-19 ruling out any cricket for the majority of cricketers going into IPL, tackling mental rustiness will be the key, added the Australian coach.
“A lot of the senior players can draw from past experience to get back into groove. When it comes to the younger guys, it will be a tougher challenge as they are still learning their game,” he said. “At the same time, they are fresh and hungry. The big thing would be how the players adjust mentally and switch back on to play. How they cope with the anxiety around that will play a big part.”
RCB’s seam bowling arsenal looks impressive with Chris Morris, Isuru Udana, Kane Richardson and Dale Steyn, bought back at the auction after being released, in the line-up.
“Death bowling under pressure, we wanted to make sure we got it covered. We went into the auction with a lot of thought into that. We made sure we have some experienced finishers there,” said Hesson.
“The likes of Udana, Morris, Richardson, Steyn have also developed other skills. The likes of Umesh Yadav and Mohammad Siraj are a year wiser. Navdeep Saini has got international experience. We got (Yuzvendra) Chahal who is exceptional with leg-spinners and has a nice mix of spinners. We are not so much reliant on our batting and have a balanced unit.”
AB, STEYN FACTOR
AB de Villiers and Steyn though have had longer breaks as they don’t play international cricket.
“AB took part in an exhibition match only weeks ago. He was a standout player there, practically just coming out of his living room. He has played good level of franchise cricket around the world in the last 12 months. He is refreshed. He is one among the group literally jumping to get back into training,” Hesson said.
“Steyn… we saw him return (from injury) six months ago, he was in exceptional form. He had a good T20 league in South Africa where he was one of the top wicket-takers. He is not ready to retire yet and is keen to make a contribution.”