In tune with requirements now

Published : Apr 18, 2009 00:00 IST

A nightmarish inaugural IPL ensured that the businessman took things in his grip and, after relieving icon Rahul Dravid of the responsibility, thrust the reins in the hands of his $1.55 million star, Kevin Pietersen.

Royal Challengers was mired equally in tragedy and comedy last year. The team crawled and wheezed when the need of the hour was a reckless sprint; ‘experimented’ with 11 opening pairs in 14 matches; suffered the public humiliation of its manager getting the sack; and had to ‘rest’ its costliest player (Jacques Kallis) for lack of form.

Considering the result-oriented man that Mr. Mallya is, it wasn’t surprising that no stone was left unturned to pack the side with ‘winners’ this year. Pietersen was obviously the biggest catch at the second auction and Jesse Ryder may prove to be second to none in batting skill.

Dravid and Wasim Jaffer would have counted hanging on to one end as their original plan, but one gets the drift that any lethargy in South Africa will be booted out without fuss.

Dravid, incidentally, may just have a point to prove in Twenty20 cricket; the fact that he was the top-scorer for his team in the last season did not score any brownie points for him either in the Press or within the organisational quagmire of his own team.

Jesse Ryder is entirely suited to providing sparks; Cameron White can belt it a long way and compatriots Kallis and Mark Boucher would also want to perform on home turf.

“With our sort of batting order, each one of our top six or seven guys should be able to bat in any role,” coach Ray Jennings said recently.

The bowling looks good. Any team that contains Dale Steyn and Nathan Bracken has to be a realistic threat. Both are top-class bowlers who would be difficult to get away and Bracken is too smart a bowler to not have learnt from the recent ODI experience against South Africa. Praveen Kumar can be a handful and Anil Kumble rounds thing up nicely with his experience and spin angle.

One thing’s for sure. It would take at least a semifinal berth to stay the pink slips.

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