Kumble confident of turnaround

Anil Kumble believes the Bangalore Royal Challengers will be hot contenders for the IPL title despite their seventh-place finish in 2008.

Following the victory over previous winners Rajasthan Royals, Kumble said the preparation for this year’s tournament had been far better and that a few of the seasoned players will come to the fore as the tournament wears on.

‘Let me make it clear that this is a different group and we have set out to achieve something and I daresay the result of our opening match is ample evidence of my claim,’ Kumble wrote in his column for The Hindu. ‘This time our preparation hasn’t just been intense but also spot on. Spending nearly two weeks in Johannesburg and playing as many as five practice matches – two against the local Lions and three among ourselves – gave us a good feel of the local conditions.’

Kumble took five wickets in Saturday’s victory while India team-mate Rahul Dravid played an important knock of 66. Like Jacques Kallis, Dravid is often under-appreciated despite his great technique.

In a tournament that is predominantly for big hitters, Kumble still believes Dravid has value – especially on South African tracks.

‘Rahul had a point or two to prove. On pitches with bounce and movement, it is technique not flashiness that helps. Believe me, if not for Rahul’s technique, the Rajasthan bowlers would have looked far more effective than they did.

‘I am also glad to see Rahul among the runs because that means that if any two other batsmen among the likes of Jesse Ryder, Ross Taylor, Kevin Pietersen and Robin Uthappa click, we are looking at setting a serious target. And with our fast bowling looking twice as good while bowling in South Africa, as compared to India, we are on our way.’