NEW DELHI: Kolkata Knight Riders last won the coveted Indian Premier League title way back in 2014 under the captaincy of Gautam Gambhir. It was their second title after the championship win in 2012, also under Gambhir’s captaincy. It has been six years since KKR lst got their hands on the trophy.
The Dinesh Karthik-led side has played four games so far in the tournament this time and emerged victorious on two occasions.
Former Australian cricketer and the current Chief Mentor of KKR, David Hussey believes the basics, understanding roles and executing plans under immense pressure are key to the team’s success.
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In an exclusive interview with Timesofindia.com, ahead of the IPL 2020 season, Hussey spoke about KKR’s title chances this year, his favourite IPL moment, the swashbuckling Andre Russell, young sensation Shubman Gill and much more…
You played for KKR as a player for three seasons. Now you have a mentoring role. What is this new challenge like?
Yeah, it’s a new challenge being a mentor to the group. Especially from your playing days about how you played. It’s more about the next generation and how to get the best out of their game, understand them as people, and then also trying to make them as relaxed as possible once they hit the ground
Your favourite KKR IPL moment that you will always cherish…
It was when we played on an up and down pitch at Eden Gardens at home for the first time against Deccan Chargers and the lights went out. It wasn’t a great pitch. Fortunately, I was able to hit the winning runs and it was just a great feeling after the match. All the boys got a lot of confidence out of that game
Dinesh Karthik and Andre Russell (PTI Photo/Sportzpics for BCCI)
It has been a long time since we last saw KKR lifting the IPL trophy. Your take on the team’s chances this year? Do you think Dinesh Karthik can do what Gambhir did in the past (2012 and 2014)?
Well every year, you set up to win the IPL, but unfortunately there’s only one team that can actually win it. Our job is to make sure everybody knows their roles, everybody’s clear about what they have to do in order for us to win many games of cricket for the Kolkata Knight Riders. If we do the basics very very well, understand their roles very well and execute our skills under immense pressure, I think we can go a long way to winning many games of cricket and qualifying for the finals first and foremost. We have a good and balanced side. I think we have a really good method, a really clear and concise method and hopefully, that helps us go a long way and deep into the tournament
KKR have someone like Andre Russell who can single handedly turn a match on its head. If you had to describe Russell in one word, what would that be?
If I have to choose one word for Russell that will be ‘Superhuman’. He is not normal and can win for you in any situation. The team could be six down for 120 runs chasing 190 and Andre Russell steps to the crease. He can change the run rate very very quickly. He is superhuman and we are very fortunate to have him in the Kolkata Knight Riders squad.
(PTI Photo/Sportzpics for BCCI)
KKR have been using Sunil Narine as an all-rounder for a few seasons now, choosing to open the innings with him. Your comments on Sunil. Should he be called a mystery batsman too?
HUSSEY: (Laughs) He is a genuine all-rounder. Isn’t he? Fortunately, we’ve got a few genuine allrounders. Nitish Rana, Chris green, Andre Russell of course, which is very handy. Opening the batting is probably not my strategy. You always generally try and protect your best players. He’s one of the world’s best T20 bowlers or white ball bowlers throughout the world. But he’s done it so well, opening the batting for the Kolkata Knight Riders. It would be stupid not to continue with it as well. But fortunately, Brendon has to make those tough calls with the batting order.
KKR seem to have a well-balanced bowling lineup…
Fortunately, we have got a very well-balanced bowling attack. We have got good young Indian bowlers. Shivam Mavi, Kamlesh Nagarkoti, Sandeep Warrier, and then we got Pat Cummins as well, Lockie Ferguson. It’s really a well-balanced side. We have got really good spinners in Kuldeep and Narine as well. In my experience, in T20 cricket, it takes the whole squad to actually win many games of cricket. So, if you’re not performing or you’re out of form or low on confidence, it’s up to the next person to step up and take that position. But every person has to fulfill their role in the team in order for us to go deep in the tournament.