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Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Explained: Why Dinesh Karthik stepped down in the middle of the IPL 2020 season

Eoin Morgan led England to their first-ever World Cup triumph last year. He was a natural successor and the Kolkata Knight Rider's vice-captain.

Written by Shamik Chakrabarty | Kolkata | Updated: October 19, 2020 10:17:58 am
Dinesh Karthik, Dinesh Karthik captain, Dinesh Karthik KKR, Eoin Morgan, Eoin Morgan KKR captain, IPL 2020 KKR, Indian ExpressDinesh Karthik along with Eoin Morgan. (Source: IPL)

Hours before their match against Mumbai Indians, Dinesh Karthik stepped down as Kolkata Knight Riders captain, handing over the reins to Eoin Morgan. A system with a football-style strong manager and relatively low-profile captain apparently hasn’t worked for the franchise.

Why did Dinesh Karthik step down?

According to the KKR press release, Karthik did it “with a view to focus on his batting and contributing more to the team’s cause”. The ’keeper-batsman had scored 108 runs in seven matches, with one half-century this season (112 from eight after Friday’s knock).

Why Eoin Morgan?

Morgan led England to their first-ever World Cup triumph last year. He was a natural successor and the team’s vice-captain. He is also the team’s second-highest run-getter after Shubman Gill. In an interview with the host broadcaster before Friday’s match, Morgan spoke about the “shock” the team had, as Karthik took the team into confidence the night before.

Also read | Dinesh Karthik stepping down from KKR captaincy incredibly selfless, says Eoin Morgan

Why did KKR continue with Karthik as their captain after finishing fifth last term?

KKR rather brought in a change in their coaching staff. Brendon McCullum replaced Jacques Kallis as head coach. “This time around we wanted a different profile, someone who brings fresh ideas and new energy. We are the youngest side in the IPL. We wanted someone who has proven leadership skills, able to work with young players and manage diversity,” Knight Riders CEO Venky Mysore told this paper after the appointment was made last year. Clearly, the franchise wanted to put McCullum right on top of their leadership pyramid.

Is a set-up featuring a high-profile head coach and a low-profile captain the flavour of the season?

To some extent, yes. Kings XI Punjab have Anil Kumble as head coach and a relatively low-profile KL Rahul as captain. Delhi Capitals have Ricky Ponting as head coach, mentoring a relatively young and low-profile captain in Shreyas Iyer. Results, though, have been different. While DC are sitting pretty with 12 points from eight matches, KXIP are at the foot of the table; four points from eight matches. KKR have had a mixed season; eight points from as many games.

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Was Karthik under pressure?

Some external voices had called for Karthik’s removal as captain. “Genuinely feel @Eoin16 should lead the side,(surly not*dk kolaimandaaaiii) World Cup-winning captain should surly lead ipl side. I hope #kkr looks at this issue.nd win. they need a leader who will lead from front like Rohit, Dhoni or Virat..what a player,” fast bowler Sreesanth had tweeted after KKR’s loss to DC. KKR’s batting order – Karthik coming ahead of Morgan, Andre Russell batting too late etc. – has been questioned by fans and pundits alike.

Don’t miss from Explained | IPL 2020 transfer window: How Rahane may go to CSK or Tahir to DC

Was Karthik a popular captain?

Last year, Andre Russell, the team’s x-factor, publicly criticised on-field decision-making. “We have a good team but if you make bad decisions, then you will always lose games and that’s what we have been doing,” Russell had said. He wasn’t happy with his batting position. Things barely changed in the first seven matches this term. Only twice was the Jamaican promoted up the order – at No. 4 against Rajasthan Royals and DC.

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