Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Kumble Eyes Royal Title

Royal Challengers Bangalore captain Anil Kumble is hoping a cohesive approach will help his team go one better than last year.

Kumble is hoping his side will win the third edition of the Indian Premier League, which begins in Mumbai on Friday.

Last season the Royal Challengers produced a remarkable turnaround following a shaky start to a tournament that was moved to South Africa due to security concerns and eventually finished runners-up.

Kumble's star-studded team, labelled a Test team in the inaugural edition, lost the final by just six runs to the Deccan Chargers last year but the veteran leg-spinner believes they can claim the title this time around.

"I think we have a very balanced side and in club cricket, the biggest advantage is to play as a unit," Kumble said.

"We realised during the Champions League last year that we actually slipped into our roles quite seamlessly so-much-so that we hardly felt the break from the IPL.

"We have the ability to regroup very quickly and that's the best thing about this team. The players have shown good form in recent matches and hopefully it would continue in the IPL."
The Royal Challengers finished bottom of the eight-team league in the inaugural edition in India and Kumble admitted the tournament's return to the sub-continent would prove a challenge.

"The wickets are going to be flat and the grounds smaller so we have to be prepared to chase higher scores," he said.

"We need to be aware of the condition of the wicket, about our opponents, take it one game at a time and try to win each match.

"We have the quality to compete and if we play to potential, we will certainly go all the way."

The Challengers will be up against stiff opposition from the other seven teams, particularly twice semi-finalist the Delhi Daredevils and defending champions the Deccan Chargers - two of the strongest teams in the fray, while the Mumbai Indians, the Kolkata Knight Riders and the Kings XI Punjab all have a point to prove.
The Daredevils coach Eric Simons has backed new captain Gautam Gambhir to deliver.

"Gambhir is a mature and clear-thinking individual, he has got no ego and is the perfect man to lead," Simons said.

"However, the key is to peak at the right time and we have to find ways to do that.

"We have several match-winners in the side, so we are confident."
Rajasthan Royals captain Shane Warne, who led his unfancied team to the title two years ago, believes his side would be up to the task following a disappointing sixth place finish in the last edition.

"Nobody gave us chance in the first edition, but we still emerged champions," he said.

"This time too, the feeling is similar. After two years of competition the teams are predictable but there is always an element of surprise and it's something which worked very well for us in the first edition.

"The other teams copied our style, which proves that our brand was very successful.

"We have a number of options which could be used as secret weapons and we have a good bunch of youngsters who could land us the title."
Mahendra Singh Dhoni, captain of the Chennai Super Kings who reached the final in the first year and the semi-final last year, believes physical and mental fitness would be key.

"The IPL has a demanding schedule and there will be a lot of pressure on the players," he said.

"It will be a big test mentally and players need to be fresh physically too because it is going to be hot and humid even under lights. But I'm sure the players will cope."

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