AB de Villiers will lead Royal Challengers Bangalore if Virat Kohli fails to recover from a shoulder injury for the IPL opener next week against Sunrisers Hyderabad. According to Daniel Vettori, Royal Challengers' head coach, Kohli will join the squad on April 2 and then reassess a date of return with the team's medical staff.
There has been no definitive update on Kohli's right shoulder, which he hurt during the third Test of the series against Australia in Ranchi. After India won the series 2-1 in Dharamasala, Kohli had said he was not 100% fit yet, and was waiting for a final word from the Indian team physiotherapist.
Vettori said there was no "clear picture" on Kohli's return date. "He [Kohli] will come in on April 2. Between now and then, the BCCI doctors and physio will speak to us (on his condition) and our medical staff will get a clearer picture," Vettori said as RCB assembled for the season's first training session in Bangalore. " Right now, we don't have a clear picture on his availability. We'll know in the next few days."
According to Vettori, de Villiers would be on standby if Kohli is unavailable. De Villiers, who will play for Titans in the Momentum One Day Cup final on Friday, will arrive in Bangalore on April 2. "The likely scenario is that de Villiers will take over the duties but we'll answer that once we find out if Virat is out," Vettori said.
Kohli played a pivotal role in Royal Challengers reaching the final last year, but his absence would offer an opportunity for youngsters like Mandeep Singh and Sarfaraz Khan to take on more responsibility. ""Fortunately, we have a number of exceptional batsmen who haven't got many playing chances like Sarfaraz Khan and Mandeep Singh. It's a huge asset for us that someone else can fill in those gaps."