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Call it an after-effect of the global financial meltdown,or the fast-increasing tendency to knock off Pakistani names off the roster.

Written by Nadim Siraj | Kolkata |
January 6, 2009 1:55:38 am

Shah Rukh ready to sell off Shoaib Akhtar,Knight Riders coach Buchanan says the move was prompted by a combination of reasons

Call it an after-effect of the global financial meltdown,or the fast-increasing tendency to knock off Pakistani names off the roster. Shah Rukh Khan’s IPL team Kolkata Knight Riders has decided to put up ace speedster Shoaib Akhtar for sale this winter.

The transfer window ahead of the second edition of the Twenty20 carnival opened late last month. And,with SRK’s nod,the KKR management has taken the bold step to try selling off Akhtar and look for a suitable replacement from the pool of international or national players.

The inaugural season of the IPL last summer saw the tearaway fast bowler’s performance swing between extremes,with a burst of dazzling bowling clouded by fitness and disciplinary problems that often left the black-and-gold brigade embarrassed.

Finally,after much deliberation,Red Chillies Entertainment — SRK’s production company that owns KKR — has officially put out Akhtar for sale and is looking to either ‘buy’ a suitable replacement or ‘trade’ him for another player who would fill into his shoes.

Knight Riders have been pondering over this move for quite some time now,and finally,confirmation came today from the horse’s mouth. The team’s chief coach John Buchanan clarified that Akhtar was indeed up for sale.

All the eight teams of the IPL carnival are now eligible to trade players and the transfer window closes on January 22,as the second edition of the new format of the game comes up in April-May.

“Shoaib is now up for trade. We cannot have room for two pacers in this team (read: Umar Gul),” a candid Buchanan told reporters on the sidelines of KKR’s three-day selection trials that began at the Eden Gardens today.

As many as 45 young guns,including the sons of Mohammad Azharuddin and Aunshuman Gaekwad,will be screened at the three-day camp.

The Knight Riders coach made it clear that with Gul and Ishant Sharma giving results on the pace front,there’s just no need for the think-tank to hold on to the expensive Akhtar.

KKR focusing on batting
Having learnt from their top-order failure last season,Knight Riders coach Buchanan has decided to focus on consolidating the team’s batting front. Discussing the need to pull up their socks as far as batting is concerned,Buchanan said today spoke about the new focus area. The Knight Riders have roped in New South Wales all-rounder Moses Henriques and they are now eyeing England veteran Adam Hollioake.

“I have had discussions with Hollioake. I see that he has a real role in the franchise,” said Buchanan. “There is no doubt that our top-order batting was a problem for us last year. Virtually in every game,within the first six overs,we lost two-three wickets. “It’s very much in our thinking that our top-order has to be as strong as it can be. While we may lose one or two international players,we have to have our bench strength ready with Indian players,” the Oz coach said.

The World Cup-winning Australian coach pointed out: “We are looking at the best possible blend. Last season,Chris Gayle,Brendon McCullum,Ricky Ponting and Michael Hussey formed the core of the top-order. We talked already about Hollioke. We have already roped in Henriques. So,there is a blend of all-rounders in the team now. But at the end,we want a strong blend of Indian players as well,we can’t deny that. We are seeking Indian top-order players,all-rounders,and then of course,strike bowlers.”

Waingankar is KKR Talent Research head
Former CEO of Baroda Cricket Association (BCA) Makrand Waingankar has been appointed head of Knight Riders’ newly-formed Talent Research Development Wing (TRDW),which will help to spot talent.

Confirming the development,CEO of KKR Joy Bhattacharya told PTI: “Waingankar will head our talent research development officers,who will spot talent from all over the country. He will travel throughout the country to supply home-grown talent to the team.”

Waingankar,also a cricket columnist,had helped devise the TRDW,whose find is Indian skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Kerala pace ace S Sreesanth.

Quite on the lines of the now-scrapped TRDW,which was set up under Jagmohan Dalmiya’s tenure at BCCI back in 2002,the KKR’s talent research programme is to spot young guns from far flung areas of the country.

Mohun Bagan complain against umpiring decisions
Meanwhile,Mohun Bagan club has protested against the umpiring in their just-concluded league match against arch-rivals East Bengal that ended yesterday in a draw at the Eden Gardens.

In their official report to the CAB,the Mohun Bagan team has lambasted the umpiring,citing three decisions that they claimed went the wrong way. Thanks to some resilient batting from Kamal Hassan Mondal,Mohun Bagan snatched a draw from the jaws of defeat yesterday on the last day of the match. The match saw frayed tempers throughout as club officials from both the camps came to blows several times in the course of the match,giving the Maidan a bad name as Australian coach John Buchanan closely caught up with the action at the Eden Gardens.

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