Kolkata Knight Riders’ Rs 7.40 crore acquisition Dinesh Karthik was appointed as captain while Robin Uthappa will be his deputy, it was announced on Sunday.
An IPL veteran with 152 matches across 10 seasons, Karthik has turned up for five different franchises—Delhi Daredevils, Kings XI Punjab, Mumbai Indians, Royal Challengers Bangalore and Gujarat Lions—before joining KKR. He was a stop-gap skipper in some of those franchises, apart from helming Tamil Nadu to their 2009-10 Vijay Hazare Trophy triumph. He also led India Red to the Duleep Trophy title last year and TUTI Patriots to the the Tamil Nadu Premier League title in 2016.
While Karthik leading a young team could be fraught with uncertainty, KKR boasts a strong group of support staff, which includes head coach Jacques Kallis, assistant Simon Katich and bowling coach Heath Streak. This this could well be the reason why the franchise took a gamble on someone whose leadership skills are largely untested at this level.
“We took the Australian approach in picking our captain. First we picked the team and then we chose one of the best players to be our captain. We followed the process in 2011 as well. Also, we have looked for change, while retaining continuity. Karthik represents the change, while Robin as vice-captain represents continuity,” KKR CEO Venky Mysore told The Indian Express.
Tamil Nadu coach Hrishikesh Kanitkar, however, put things in perspective. “The important part is that the support staff in a T20 game can only speak during breaks. During the game there’s hardly any time to send a message, or for the captain to do anything about it, because every ball the situation changes. So having a captain who is very, very smart about reading situations is important,” Kanitkar told The Indian Express.
He backed Karthik to succeed and described him as a “leader on and off the field”, who follows his “instincts” and “mixes very well” with the juniors. KKR have roped in Shubman Gill, Kamlesh Nagarkoti and Shivam Mavi; the India U-19 World Cup-winning squad mainstays. “There are a few interesting young talent from the India U-19 that we have picked. I’m really looking forward to meeting them, interacting with them and getting the best out of them,” Karthik said.
Prasad, KXIP bowling coach
Two days after Venkatesh Prasad resigned from his post of the chairman, the BCCI junior selection committee, the former India seamer joined Kings XI Punjab as their bowling coach for the upcoming season.
“It was happening and to avoid the conflict of interest, I quit my job as the chairman of the (junior) selection committee,” Prasad told this paper, adding: “This is a great opportunity and honestly I would like to thank Virender Sehwag (Kings XI mentor and team director), who proposed my name to the franchise. I also share a very good relationship with R Ashwin (captain) since my CSK days.”
Prasad sounded excited at the prospect of working with the senior offie again. “As far as Ashwin is concerned, let me tell you, he is an outstanding performer and a very smart operator. I wonder why he is not playing for India in limited-overs cricket. He should be playing actually. I don’t know the reason, but Ashwin is someone who cannot be sitting outside at all. It’s nice for Indian cricket to have very good competition in the spin department, but I don’t think the team can afford to leave Ashwin out. I just hope it (association with Ashwin) works out really well.”
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