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A Royal warm-up for RCB

Special Correspondent
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ON THE JOB:RCB's new batting coach Mark O'Donnell plans to help the tier two players improve.— Photo: K. BHAGYA PRAKASH
ON THE JOB:RCB's new batting coach Mark O'Donnell plans to help the tier two players improve.— Photo: K. BHAGYA PRAKASH

Catching up with teammates and limbering up for sterner tests ahead were the primary themes of the Royal Challengers Bangalore's preparatory camp for the Indian Premier League which commenced at the KSCA ‘B' ground here on Tuesday.

The training schedule's inaugural session featured mainly RCB's Karnataka contingent along with Saurabh Tiwary and Cheteshwar Pujara. The players warmed-up and did the shuttle run with trainer S. Basu monitoring the proceedings.

Not really a camp

Coach Ray Jennings was quick to clarify that it was not a camp in the true sense and said: “This is not really a camp; it is just the starting process to the IPL. It is matter of gearing the guys up with the right intensity for the tournament and to make sure we know the injury factors, fitness and skill levels. This is to make sure that by the end of a week, we are a happy unit.”

Meanwhile an indisposed Muttiah Muralitharan skipped the opening day and Jennings stressed that international cricket's highest wicket-taker will add immense value. “Murali is a very knowledgeable guy and when you look at the skill level, if last year he was in our side along with (captain) Daniel Vettori on those slow wickets, like in the final, we could have benefited,” the coach said.

RCB's high-impact player Chris Gayle, who has finally made peace with the West Indies Cricket Board, will arrive on Wednesday. “I don't think Gayle is focussing on that (his deal with the WICB) this moment.

Jennings praises Kohli

“I think he realises that the IPL certainly helped turn his cricket around. He realises the importance of playing for RCB and for the next two months, his focus will be here,” Jennings said and also praised Virat Kohli's growth and welcomed the return of Vinay Kumar following his stint with the now-disbanded Kochi Tuskers Kerala.

Jennings was accompanied by new batting coach Mark O'Donnell, who has worked with the New Zealand team. “My job is to get some of the second tier guys as close to some of the first tier guys. “With players like Gayle, AB de Villiers and Vettori, it doesn't matter but obviously we will work on the small things with them,” O'Donnell said.

The rest of the squad will assemble over the next week while Vijay Zol, who gained attention with his unbeaten 451 for Maharashtra against Assam in a Cooch Behar Trophy match, will join the group on March 17 after playing for India under-19 in the quadrangular tournament in Australia.

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