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April 20, 2009
Anil Kumble, the Bangalore Royal Challengers legspinner, feels that this year's team is "different" from the outfit that finished second last in 2008 and that the "intense" and "spot on" preparations in South Africa have helped immensely. Bangalore opened their IPL campaign with a resounding win on Saturday, dismissing the defending champions Rajasthan Royals for 58.
"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. "I would be the first to admit that a few things were missing last year. But 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."
Bangalore revamped their squad after last-season's failure, the most significant additions being Jesse Ryder and a new captain in Kevin Pietersen, who replaced Rahul Dravid. It was Dravid, however, who played the most crucial role in Bangalore's victory, scoring 66 of 48 balls in testing conditions.
"The Twenty20 game may not be for the oldies but as Sachin and Rahul also showed, we can have our days too," Kumble wrote. "Individually too, 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, Ross [Taylor], Kevin 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."
Kumble also had a successful game against Rajasthan. He picked up 5 for 5 and said he was "intrigued" by his performance. "I am coming off a long break and may have retired but the moment I am back on the cricket field, ball in hand, the feeling is the same as always. And in any format, a five-wicket haul sure makes one feel one is in the thick of things." Bangalore's second game is against Chennai Super Kings in Port Elizabeth on Monday.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
Shorter tours don't allow you time to get into form, and domestic cricket isn't demanding enough