Royal Challengers gets a Zaheer boost
In the run up to its DLF Indian Premier League inaugural match against Kolkata Knight Riders here on April 18, local outfit Royal Challengers Bangalore got a fillip as Zaheer Khan reiterated that he would be part of the playing eleven.
In a joint press conference with teammates Ross Taylor and Cameron White here on Monday evening, Zaheer Khan — who has recovered from an ankle injury – said: “Twenty20 should not be a problem. I have been bowling every day in the last three days and yes I will be playing the first game.”
Zaheer’s return to fitness must be welcome news for Royal Challengers’ skipper Rahul Dravid as Dale Steyn will miss the opening round matches as he will turn out for his domestic team Titans in the South African Standard Bank Pro20 tournament.
Zaheer also expected adequate crowd support. “The cream of the International players will be playing and there should be crowds. This is the first year, lets see how it goes,” Zaheer said.
Meanwhile, New Zealander Ross Taylor and Aussie Cameron White said they were excited.
“Hoping to make some good friends and win lots of matches for my team,” said Taylor, who has a strike rate of 126.66 in Twenty20.
Taylor struck a cautious note when queried on IPL’s ability to garner a loyal fan base like the English Premier League in football.
“The first couple of years will be a process of seeing how things go. If it takes off with a bang and we get to see some exciting cricket then may be one day it can get to that level,” Taylor said.
Cameron White, a hard-hitting batsman who is also labelled as a Twenty20 specialist, seemed comfortable with the tag. “I am lucky that I played well for my State (Victoria) in Twenty20 and now I get to play for Bangalore. I enjoy playing the other forms of the game. I am in the one-day squad for the tour of the West Indies after the IPL. I will try to improve in this tournament as well as in one-day cricket,” White said.
While the focus is on the established as well as overseas players, former Karnataka opener J. Arun Kumar hopes to make a mark.
“It’s like a welcome call from the family. We have been working hard and we are also waiting for the big players to join,” Arun Kumar said while teammates and India under-19 players Virat Kohli and Shreevats Goswami stressed on the learning curve for juniors.