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Why Kolkata Knight Riders and Gautam Gambhir parted ways ahead of IPL 2018

Gautam Gambhir was Kolkata Knight Riders’ leading run-getter and led them to two IPL titles and three playoffs. He will lead his old team Delhi Daredevils in 2018

cricket Updated: Mar 24, 2018 09:06 IST
Dhiman Sarkar
Dhiman Sarkar
Kolkata
IPL 2018,Indian Premier League,Kolkata Knight Riders
Gautam Gambhir wasn’t retained by Kolkata Knight Riders ahead of the IPL 2018 season.(IPL)

Appointing Dinesh Karthik as captain and Robin Uthappa as his deputy showed how Kolkata Knights Riders (KKR) got continuity to bat with change going into the 2018 Indian Premier League (IPL).

“One of our objectives was to achieve change which Karthik represents as he’s new to KKR and brings a fresh perspective. At the same time, we wanted continuity as well, which Robin represents as he has been with KKR since 2014. So, we feel we have the best of both worlds,” said Venky Mysore, CEO and Managing Director, KKR, in an interview here on Thursday.

Going into the January player auction, Mysore said KKR’s policy was to choose the team and then figure out captaincy. That is how it was in 2011 too when Gautam Gambhir replaced Sourav Ganguly. “We were lucky to have picked Gautam Gambhir and subsequently appoint him as our captain… We were perhaps one bid away from not getting him,” said Mysore.

Mysore said they wanted to keep the batsman in a senior player and mentorship role. “Retention rules made it difficult for us to retain more than two players. (KKR retained Andre Russell and Sunil Narine). So we were hoping to get him back in the auction even if it meant using an RTM (right-to-match option). But I think he wanted a different challenge.”

Gambhir, 36, was KKR’s leading run-getter and led them to two IPL titles and three playoffs. He will lead old team Delhi Daredevils in 2018.

Captaincy aides

Commenting on captaincy in T20 formats, Mysore said: “Cricket is not yet ready for radical change, but these days the coach, assistant coaches and analysts play a crucial role along with the captain. There is a playbook approach which includes, among other things, a lot of planning ahead of the game with inputs from analysts and coaches.

“Also (from the dugout) the captain has pretty solid inputs. Given the short format, rarely does one see many ‘genius’ moves from a captain that happen on the field like they probably happen in longer formats.”

Aggressive batsmen

Mysore said by getting Australian batsman Chris Lynn (currently injured), KKR addressed the need for aggression at the top. Retaining Russell would help provide power at the back end. Mitchell Starc will hopefully address the issue of death bowling, a gap that needs to be filled, he said.

“They say if you get 70% of what you wanted from the auction, you should be happy. I think we did better than 70%. The one surprise was the price at which Manish Pandey went. We would have liked to get him back but we needed to be unemotional, otherwise it would have messed up the rest of the calculations,” said Mysore.

With Pandey, KKR opted to not use the right-to-match option and spend Rs 11 crore. But for Rs 2.80 crore more, KKR got Karthik (Rs 7.4 crore) and Uthappa (Rs 6.40 crore).

On Caribbean mystery spinner Narine, Mysore said: “No one has gone through as much as Sunil has in having to remodel his action and still come back and be effective. When he doesn’t take wickets, he creates pressure and helps bowlers from the other end to get wickets. He is clearly a force to reckon with.”

First Published: Mar 24, 2018 09:04 IST