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IPL in UAE: Royal Challengers should not bank on Virat Kohli alone: Venkatesh Prasad

Virat Kohli makes a stunning catch for RCB.
Virat Kohli takes a stunning, one-handed catch for at the Royal Challengers Bangalore practice session in Dubai.
Image Credit: Twitter

Dubai: It’s time that Royal Challengers Bangalore should trust other players as well rather than just Virat Kohli in the upcoming season of the Indian Premier League, according to Venkatesh Prasad, one of the most respected names among India’s swing exponents and a pace bowling guru.

‘‘It’s not fair to just depend on one person to deliver the title for you. The franchise owners should place trust on other players and allow them to express themselves freely,’’ said Prasad, who had been a mentor to the RCB’s pace bowling unit in the past. The former bowling coach of India has done his rounds in the cash-rich league, having served teams like Mumbai Indians and Kings XI Punjab as well.

Speaking to Gulf News during an exclusive chat on the sidelines of the launch of ‘CricKingdom Cricket Academy by Rohit Sharma.’ a new initiative named after India’s prolific batting star, Prasad had a word of caution about expecting too much from the cricketers right from the word go when the IPL gets under way in the UAE from September 19. ‘‘Let’s face it, it’s going to be a huge challenge for the cricketers – mentally, physically as well as emotionally. They have not gone outdoors for five to six months, leave alone the rigour of playing competitive cricket – hence there could be a lot of injuries too,’’ said Prasad.

‘‘I think we should not judge the players too soon and the franchises should go easy on them this year,’’ said Prasad. During his playing days, the 51-year-old from Bangalore played a perfect foil for his partner nippy Javagal Srinath – making up for his lack of pace with swing and seam movement – the leg cutters being the most famous weapon in his armoury.

Cricket
Venkatesh Prasad (centre) poses with the coaches and officials of CricKingdom Cricket Academy by Rohit Sharma in Dubai.
Image Credit: Supplied picture

The IPL franchise owners, during the auction which actually took place last December, had boosted their arsenal with quality fast bowlers with completely different conditions in mind – and they would have to be really bending their backs on the UAE wickets during this heat and humidity. Asked what would be his advice for the likes of genuinely quick bowlers like a Pat Cummins (the highest paid foreigner with Kolkata Knight Riders) or Mohammed Shami (Kings XI), Prasad suggested variations would be the name of the game. ‘‘That’s the only way to go, be it yorkers, slow bouncers and the change of pace which can come in very handy on the slower wickets. Meanwhile, with the use of saliva on the ball being banned here as well, the lacquer on the ball will wear off quicker and the bowlers may try to get some reverse swing towards the closing stages of the innings,’’ he added.

Earlier, addressing a group of trainees who would be part of the CricKingdom Academy, Prasad had a crucial word of advice: to take their practice sessions as seriously as the matches. Giving examples of some of his illustrious peers like Rahul Dravid, he said: ‘‘Rahul would never give away his wicket even at the nets. To quote the Australian pace guru Dennis Lillee, whoch was my coach at the MRF Pace Academy, it’s only perfect practice – and not just practice – which makes you perfect.’’

CricKingdom by Rohit Sharma

A Rach Sports project, the academy has now got operational at Springdale School at Al Quoz, which has four turf wickets, a bowling machine and floodlight facilities. The registration for students online has opened on August 21.

Girban Chakroborty, Head of Operations, Rach Sports, said Rohit Sharma will spend time with the students of the academy after the end of Mumbai Indians’ campaign in the 13th edition of the IPL in the UAE.

CricKingdom, for whom this is the fifth academy globally, will have Khurram Khan, former UAE captain and World Cupper and Shantanu Ghosh, a BCCI certified coach, as the two coaches in the academy. ‘‘Sharma, who is the mentor and one of the directors of the board, will be keeping a keen eye on the progress of the trainees,’’ said Parag Dahiwal, one of the directors of the Singapore-based CricKingdom.

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