Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) star batsman AB de Villiers conceded that the players and support staff were dejected after defeat to Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) on Sunday, April 8. He is, however, confident of a quick turnaround in fortunes in the ongoing Indian Premier League (IPL) season.
The 34-year-old revealed head coach Daniel Vettori had buried the disappointment and highlighted the positives from their season-opening defeat during a private conversation Sunday.
RCB, who had finished with the wooden spoon in IPL 2017, were hoping for a strong start to the ongoing 11th edition. However, Virat Kohli's men were completely outplayed by KKR, who registered a four-wicket win at their home ground.
The Bangalore-based franchise, who were sent in to bat by KKR skipper Dinesh Karthik, were in the driver's seat until the 14th over of their innings as Kohli and de Villiers were taking the attack to the opposition bowlers.
However, part-timer Nitish Rana brought KKR back into the game by removing de Villiers and Kohli in a span of two balls. RCB managed 176 on the board but it was not enough as Sunil Narine hit a 19-ball 50 to help his side open the account in the new season.
RCB team bus was quiet after KKR defeat: De Villiers
"The team bus was quiet on the drive back to the hotel after the game. We know we paid a heavy price for our mistakes in Kolkata, but we were playing against a powerful and well-balanced KKR team with players in form, and we stayed in the fight," de Villiers wrote in his column for The Times of India.
"Dan Vettori pulled me to one side after Sunday's opening defeat against KKR at Eden Gardens. The RCB coach was disappointed with the result, but he wanted me to know he had seen plenty of positives in our performance and he felt optimistic about our prospects," he added.
"Dan [Vettori] is a coach who says what he means and means what he says. I agree with him."
RCB clearly lacked an extra bowling option Sunday as Kohli opted to go in with five specialist bowlers. Spinners Washington Sundar and Yuzvendra Chahal were taken to the cleaners while all-rounder Chris Woakes and youngster Kulwant Khejroliya came up with underwhelming performances.
Over the years, RCB have been criticised for not having a balanced squad, especially the difference in quality between their batting and bowling units.
De Villiers backs RCB bowling line-up
De Villiers believes the former finalists have addressed the issue and that they have picked the right bowlers to get the job done this season.
Notably, RCB did not play New Zealand pacers Tim Southee and Corey Anderson in the opening match.
They also have England off-spinner Moeen Ali in the squad along with young Indian pacers Navdeep Saini and Aniket Choudhary.
"In recent seasons, the experts have said we are unbalanced, that we are fine when our top four fire but that we lack the bowling strength to compete consistently and challenge for the title. Well, I saw enough in Kolkata to say this will not be true in 2018," de Villiers said.
"Our bowlers performed with skill and heart all the way through their innings and impressed me. We have real energy and variety in our attack, and there are strong options on the bench, so I am sure it's only a matter of time before their collective talent starts to shine through."