Chris Gayle’s blistering knock and Yuzvendra Chahal’s fine bowling performance may have delivered a much-needed win for Royal Challengers Bangalore against Gujarat Lions on Tuesday (April 18), but the Bengaluru-based franchise is still grappling with several issues in the IPL 2017, chief among them being the fitness of key players like AB de Villiers, Samuel Badree and Tymal Mills.
Badree, who picked up a hat-trick on debut for RCB, and batting mainstay de Villiers missed the game against GL due to injuries, while Mills has also not been part of the eleven for a couple of games due to fitness issues. Although Gayle and Travis Head made up for the absence of the overseas players with quick-fire knocks in Rajkot, RCB still haven’t been able to find the ideal combination, with both form and fitness giving them plenty of headaches.
Speaking after the 21-run victory against GL, RCB’s head coach Daniel Vettori was happy that the likes of Gayle and Head played important roles in their side’s second win in six matches. The former New Zealand captain was also hopeful that de Villiers, Mills and Badree will regain their fitness ahead of their next clash, which is against Kolkata Knight Riders on April 23 at the Eden Gardens.
“Chris [Gayle] is at his strongest and most powerful on these good wickets and can take any bowling attack down. We had to go through the ringer – Sam Badree was injured today, Tymal’s [Mills] injured, obviously AB [de Villiers] is injured as well. So to have the likes of Chris, Travis [Head], Adam [Milne] and Shane [Watson] to call on in these situations makes a huge difference. When we went to the auction process, we wanted to increase our bench strength and fortunately today it’s come through for us.
“We’re fortunate that we don’t play until the 23rd, so that’ll allow us to have some recovery time. We’re hopeful that AB is fit for that, we’re hopeful that Sam’s fit for that, we’re hopeful that Tymal is fit for that. So they do have an extended period of time before we play again. We’re reasonably confident that they’ll be available to play. But it’s good that Chris and Travis stood up today, which means we have more selection dilemmas,” Vettori added.
Vettori was also lavish in his praise of Chahal, who accounted for Gujarat’s top three to finish with figures of 3 for 31. “I’ve been lucky enough to work with Yuzi [Yuzvendra Chahal] for the last four years and also play against him when he was with the Mumbai Indians. The way he bowled in the Champions League final four years ago was the reason we wanted to get him into RCB.
“He’s one of those guys who’s competitive, coupled with a lot of skills. And I think those two (Chahal and Badree) together as a spin bowling unit makes for a formidable combination. He’s really positive, really confident about what’s he’s doing and he’s also really skilful. Anyone who can succeed at Chinnaswamy [stadium] as a spin bowler, you know there’s something special about him and you saw that again today with his performance,” Vettori said of Chahal.
Following a four-day break ahead of their clash against KKR, RCB have limited time-offs in between their subsequent matches, playing as many as five in nine days. Vettori though doesn’t mind playing continuously but he was also quick to admit that it was important for the players to stay free of injuries.
“I think the guys enjoy playing repeatedly, the guys enjoy the play-travel-play because they’re given the opportunity to get into the game, to compete and try and win games. Sometimes, when you have the extended break, you can get rusty and training becomes boring. So if you can stay injury-free then it’s great, if you can’t then that makes it a little difficult,” Vettori concluded.