Navi Mumbai: Relinquishing captaincy may take Virat Kohli off the bat, but the focus will still be on the maestro in Royal Challengers Bangalore’s IPL-15 opener against Punjab Kings here on Sunday.
In fact, it will be the first time in nearly ten years that Kohli will not be at the head of RCB, but will instead act as a player.
However, relinquishing the captaincy will in no way take the attention away from Kohli, who is looking to rediscover his glorious touch and lead the franchise to its first title win in the 2022 edition of the event, which kicks off on Saturday in Mumbai.
Both RCB and PBKS will have new captains at the helm in Faf du Plessis and Mayank Agarwal respectively, but Kohli is sure to attract a lot of attention now that he is not tasked with leading the side, something he last experienced in 2012.
In the 2013 edition of the lucrative tournament, Kohli took over the captaincy from New Zealander Daniel Vettori and left the post last year after leading the team for eight seasons.
RCB’s best performance under Kohli’s captaincy was in 2016 when the team finished second with the skipper amassed over 900 runs in four centuries, exactly the kind of season the 33-year-old is looking forward to.
However, a veteran of many a fight, Kohli still had “butterflies in the stomach” before the start of the tournament. And so are most of the players preparing for the tournament, now a 10-team affair with the addition of Lucknow Super Giants and Gujarat Titans.
Both teams are still looking forward to their first wins and will be happy to be the first to make a strong statement.
Seasoned South African du Plessis, who was acquired by RCB last month for Rs 7 crore in the IPL mega auction, will take the lead even as it continues its quest for its first-ever title after failing the previous ones. 14 outings.
At 37, du Plessis doesn’t have many IPL seasons left in him and he would be too eager to lead the team to an elusive triumph.
While they will have a new captain with fresh ideas, RCB will struggle with the absence of Australian duo Glenn Maxwell and Josh Hazlewood in the team’s first few games.
Maxwell is away for his wedding while Hazlewood is in Pakistan with the Test side and will miss at least three matches, as will pacer Jason Behrendorff.
But RCB still has some good options with players like Shelfane Rutherford, Finn Allen etc. Much focus will be on Sri Lankan all-rounder Wanindu Hasaranga and Dinesh Karthik, who will be representing the team for the first time.
On the other hand, the Kings will miss the services of Jonny Bairstow, who is in the West Indies with the England Test side in their first game, and also Kagiso Rabada as he just completed his ODI commitment for South Africa against Bangladesh. has ended.
In Rabada’s absence, their bowling attack looks rather meager and they would hope backup players deliver the goods against a strong RCB batting unit.
There will also be a lot of attention for the explosive Shahrukh Khan who was bought back at auction for a staggering Rs 9 crore for his outstanding season in domestic cricket in all formats.
Royal Challengers Bangalore: Virat Kohli, Glenn Maxwell, Mohammed Siraj, Faf du Plessis, Harshal Patel, Wanindu Hasaranga, Dinesh Karthik, Josh Hazlewood, Shahbaz Ahmed, Anuj Rawat, Akash Deep, Mahipal Lomror, Finn Allen, Shelfane Rutherford, Jason Behrendorff Suyash Prabhudesai, Chama Milind, Aneeshwar Gautam, Karn Sharma, David Willey, Luvnith Sisodia, Siddharth Kaul.
Punjab Kings: Shikhar Dhawan, Mayank Agarwal, Arshdeep Singh, Kagiso Rabada, Jonny Bairstow, Rahul Chahar, Harpreet Brar, Shahrukh Khan, Prabhsimran Singh, Jitesh Sharma, Ishan Porel, Liam Livingstone, Odean Smith, Sandeep Sharma, Raj Angad Bawa, Dha Prerak Mankad, Vaibhav Arora, Writtick Chatterjee, Baltej Dhanda, Ansh Patel, Nathan Ellis, Atharva Taide, Bhanuka Rajapaksa, Benny Howell.
Match stars at 7.30pm IST.