South Africa batsman AB de Villiers is likely to lead Royal Challengers Bangalore in the initial phase of Indian Premier League (IPL) season 10, if regular skipper Virat Kohli fails to recover from a shoulder injury. Also, KL Rahul will reportedly miss the tournament, also with a shoulder injury. It is understood that he will soon fly to London to undergo surgery. The 24-year old had hurt his left shoulder five weeks ago, in the first Test against Australia, but continued to play through pain for the rest of the series.
Regarding Kohli, RCB coach Daniel Vettori said, “Right now, we don’t have a clear picture on his availability. We will know in the next few days. The likely scenario is that AB de Villiers will take over the duties, but we will answer that once we find out if Virat is out.”
The Indian captain will join the team on April 2, but his availability will depend on the health assessment of BCCI doctors and physios, Vettori said.
“He will come in on April 2. Between now and then, BCCI doctors and physio will speak to us and our medical staff will get a clearer picture,” he said.
Kohli injured his right shoulder during the third Test of the series against Australia on the first day of the Ranchi Test and had to miss the last and decisive Test against Australia, which India eventually won by 8 wickets.
Owing to these injuries, Sarfaraz Khan could get an opportunity early on in the tournament, for he has been really good this domestic season, Vettori said.
“Sarfaraz has been really good. At the back end of the domestic season he started to put some runs on the board. Everyone knows how talented he is. With possible injuries, he could get an opportunity early on in the tournament,” he said.
Vettori also said the side has enough bench strength to manage in Kohli’s absence as its boasts of some exceptional batsmen including Sarfaraz and Mandeep Singh, who haven’t had many chances coming their way.
“Fortunately, we have a number of exceptional batsmen who haven’t got many playing chances, like Sarfaraz Khan and Mandeep Singh. It is a huge asset for us that someone else can fill in those gaps,” he said.
Vettori also said Kohli and Rahul are accustomed to the rigours of international schedule.
“They are accustomed to this. Virat has played for the country for so long, so he is familiar with the rigours of international schedule and the IPL. Yet, he still performs well like we saw last year,” he said.
“KL too was part of the Test squad in the past. Most important thing is that they are fit and prepared for this. If we give small mental breaks for them now and then (it will be enough). Physically, I think they will be fine. We will just try to keep it as relaxed and calm as possible,” he said.