Watson: 'Of course it's not ideal to have Rahul and Kohli out'

Rahul will undergo a shoulder surgery in London, while Kohli has also been advised rest after sustaining a right shoulder injury during a Test match in Ranchi against Australia.

Watson is confident that younger players like Sarfaraz Khan and Mandeep Singh would step up and contribute for the team.   -  Sudhakara Jain

 

The Royal Challengers Bangalore website describes Shane Watson as an “IPL institution.” It perhaps explains why the franchise paid ₹ 9.5 crore to secure the services of the premium all-rounder ahead of the 2016 season.

But the "institution's" sternest test in RCB colours might well be this year, when the side will take to the field without its talismanic skipper Virat Kohli – at least for the first few weeks – and K. L. Rahul, for the tournament's entirety.

“Of course it's not ideal to have Rahul and Kohli out,” Watson said here on Saturday. "They are two great players and its going to be challenging for us. But one thing we have at RCB is a lot of batting depth.

"We have Sarfaraz Khan, Mandeep Singh, Kedar Jadhav and Sachin Baby. We will definitely miss those guys, but with the depth we have we should be okay."

Even though the Aussie excelled with the ball in the last edition – taking 20 wickets, his highest in a single season – runs were hard to come by (179 runs at 13.76). The absence of Kohli and Rahul may well give him the opportunity to correct this.

“I think my role will probably change a little bit, which is great,” he said. “I have more chances of batting up the order which is what i have done during the majority of my career. I am ready to bat anywhere but if i get a role to bat up the order, i will certainly enjoy doing that.”

On the other hand, Watson felt that RCB's bowling unit will keep the side more than competitive. To stress the point, he recalled how after being down and out in the first half of last season, RCB, riding on its bowlers' exploits, stormed into the playoffs by winning six of its last seven matches and ultimately finished runner-up.

“There is no reason why we cant follow [up] on that,” Watson said. “Bowling was something which really turned things around in the second half. We have got similar bowlers and have added Tymal Mills. So i am excited about what we are going to do.”

“To be honest it can't get much worse than what we did last year [in the first half]. We were so far behind. But we learnt a lot as a group from what really happened. So i am very confident that we will hit the ground running better this year."