IPL 2020: Dinesh Karthik-Eoin Morgan relationship will give KKR opportunity to be leaders: McCullum
Lynn has moved to Mumbai Indians this season so it would mean a new partner when KKR begin against MI on Wednesday.Updated: Sep 19, 2020, 22:52 IST
Shubhman Gill is likely to open the batting for Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) in IPL13. Gill did that in five games last term, pairing with Chris Lynn in four and Joe Denly in one. Lynn has moved to Mumbai Indians this season so it would mean a new partner when KKR begin against MI on Wednesday.
“Especially if the wicket’s going to be a bit tricky early on against fast bowling, you want players who have the best technique. I see him (Gill) batting at the top of the order through our campaign,” said KKR’s new coach Brendon McCullum on Saturday.
McCullum said Gill, 21, would be “critical to the campaign this year because even at such a young age, I feel he is a leader.”
“What I want to see him is grow in his own time but also take those around him who are reasonably inexperienced in growing the same way as he is growing his career. If we can do that, then the experience we can get into these guys at a young age in pressure moments is going to be a very good thing for KKR this season. He (Gill) has got a big role and DK (skipper Dinesh Karthik) really respects him as a person and his cricket brain,” said McCullum.
Whether Sunil Narine will be Gill’s partner could depend on his fitness. Narine is training in UAE but played only five games in the recently concluded Caribbean Premier League (CPL) because he had kidney stones removed and then a knee problem.
By getting Pat Cummins and Eoin Morgan, KKR have tried forming a leadership group around Karthik, one which McCullum has said Gill would be a part of. “He (Morgan) has completely changed how they (England) play cricket and he has got the ultimate success which is winning a World Cup. He is playing the game which he probably wanted when he was younger but maybe didn’t have the confidence to do. Now, he is probably the best middle-order batsman in the short version for the last couple of years. His relationship with DK through the campaign will give us an opportunity to be the leader in the tournament,” said McCullum. Morgan, Karthik and Andre Russell, “with his six-hitting ability”, make for a “very strong middle-order”.
McCullum got into IPL’s bio-secure bubble after guiding a “really hungry” Trinbago Knight Riders (TKR) to their fourth CPL title, this time with an all-win record. His role as KKR coach though would be different because the CPL winners were stocked with experience and in Narine, Kieron Pollard and (Dwayne) Bravo had “three of probably the top five of greatest T20 players of all time.” KKR would need more hand-holding because while “our top have played 250 games the majority of the squad lack a bit of experience.”
“When you are winning, it gives you that confidence that you are on the right path. The real key is when you are going through a bit of a tough spell, how strong you can still remain to those beliefs without being too stubborn in your views either…We are going to ask our team to play very intelligent cricket. From a coaching point of view, we need to play an intelligent game off the field to give these guys the best chance on the field,” he said.
McCullum’s whirlwind innings of 158, made in 73 balls 10 fours and 13 sixes, got IPL off to a dream start but the former New Zealand captain said his role as a coach wouldn’t be to get everyone playing that way. “The first question I got asked when I became a coach was: will every person you coach run down the wicket and try and hit it for six? And that is clearly not the idea. (The) Key from a coaching point of view it is trying to understand what each individual’s best game is and try and motivate them to bring their best game day in day out. When you are putting squads, teams or final 11s together you try and get a nice healthy balance of craft or touch players along with aggressive players,” he said.
Though KKR built the squad with an eye on the Eden Gardens wicket which has favoured pace bowlers over the past few seasons, McCullum said it won’t impede them in UAE. “Because the wickets here are going to surprise a lot of people. Early on in the tournament they are going to be quite fresh I think and be quite helpful for seam bowling.”