Injuries to lead bowlers may be the common drawback that afflicts both Royal Challengers Bangalore and Mumbai Indians ahead of Thursday’s Indian Premier League game but the respective captains — Virat Kohli and Ricky Ponting — expressed faith in their squads despite the absence of Zaheer Khan and Lasith Malinga.

Kohli spoke about staying calm and taking it one match at a time and about the missing players — Zaheer and AB de Villiers, who will join the squad later — the RCB captain said: “Zaheer has a bit of a side-strain and he is about 70 to 80 per cent fit and he will be ready to go in about a couple of games.

“AB (de Villiers) will be missed initially obviously but we have guys who can cover up as well. We have a good combination.”

Missing Malinga

Earlier, Ponting rued Malinga’s absence but found cheer in the spirit shown within his team.

“It would have been nice to have Lasith in this first game. He is the premier bowler in Twenty20 cricket but he has a sore back and we wanted him to rest a bit in Sri Lanka.

“The weather has been tricky but hopefully we will get a good (Thursday) night. If our players stay healthy and fit over a period of two months I am sure the Mumbai Indians will be right up there,” Ponting said.

The skipper also drew strength from the presence of Sachin Tendulkar and Harbhajan Singh in the squad. “It is exciting to play with them and the seniors have been good. As a team, we have had a good meeting and we discussed where we want to be and how we need to be viewed as a franchise,” Ponting said.

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