A captain who leads from the front, a batting line-up boasting of one of the most destructive T20 batsmen, a talented pace attack and some genuine all-rounders make the Kolkata Knight Riders a formidable side in Indian Premier League 4, feels the team’s bowling consultant Wasim Akram.
The Pakistan pace legend arrived in the city on Monday night and joined practice on Tuesday evening. “We may have finished sixth last year, but we got more points than the first two seasons. Just that our run rate wasn’t high and we missed out on the semifinals,” Akram said.
The Knight Riders are the only team that has never made it to the last four of the cash-rich T20 League. They got 14 points in 2010, having got just seven in 2009, when they finished last in the eight-team League, and 13 in 2008 (sixth).
In a bid to change the team’s fortunes, the Knight Riders did not retain a single player for IPL 4 and went for big buys such as Gautam Gambhir, who will lead the side, Yusuf Pathan and Jacques Kallis in the players’ auction in January.
TIME TO MOVE ON
Akram said the side would not be under added pressure for discarding their captain for two seasons and Bengal’s favourite son Sourav Ganguly.
“It is time to move on. We have a new skipper and a young side. Sourav is a family friend. We’ll miss him as a leader, but it’s time to move on. Gambhir will lead from the front. We have Yusuf Pathan in the batting line-up. They will also be boosted by their success in the World Cup,” Akram said.
Pathan was with the Rajasthan Royals in the first three seasons and played some of the most destructive innings seen in IPL.
IMPRESSED WITH PACEAkram described the team’s pace attack as "very talented". There is a blend of youth (Australian greenhorn James Pattinson, Jaidev Unadkat and local boy Mohammad Sami Ahmed) and experience (Brett Lee and Lakshmipathy Balaji). "We also have some very good all-rounders, such as Kallis and Shakib-al-Hasan. They are not bits-and-pieces players," he said.
KKR will miss Shakib, Lee, Pattinson and Australia wicketkeeper Brad Haddin in the first two matches at least, the opener against defending champions Chennai Super Kings in Chennai on Friday, and Deccan Chargers at Eden on Monday. “If players are not available, you can’t do anything about it. But we’ve got good replacement players,” Akram said.