Dinesh Karthik’s leadership skills have come under scanner after Kolkata Knight Riders’ five back-to-back defeats in the ongoing IPL but coach Jacques Kallis said that there has been no discussions on removing the under-fire captain. “No. We haven’t discussed it, nor it had been brought up. So now there’s been no talk about that,” Kallis said when asked about a possibility of a shake up like Rajasthan Royals where Ajinkya Rahane was removed for non-performance.
“Hopefully, he (Karthik) can get in and get us some big runs. That will certainly mean a lot to the team and as much as he wants to do it,” the South African great said of his skipper, who averages a dismal 16.71 from nine innings this season.
However it is learnt that the team’s principal owner Shah Rukh Khan had called the top players to Mumbai.
The Bollywood superstar sounded emotional in a tweet following their loss to Royal Challengers Banglaore at Eden Gardens on April 19.
“I feel it’s only fair for KKR to do something in return for @Russell12A, like winning a few before the season ends,” Shah Rukh had tweeted.
Asked whether the team met SRK in Mumbai, Kallis said: “I have not chatted to him since the guys have been in Mumbai. In fact, I think DK went home for a day as well. So we will catch up tomorrow and have a debrief and plan away going forward again for the next game.
Asked about Shah Rukh’s unhappiness, Kallis said: “We all want to perform a little bit better. Yeah, I think everyone’s in that space where we just want to get up and play better cricket and get back on winning ways. Losing certainly isn’t fun.”
While foreign players like Andre Russell were training in Kolkata, Karthik along with Shubman Gill and Kuldeep Yadav trained at the KKR academy in Mumbai.
While news from the team management was about giving players a “break”, the question remained as to why they were training if they have been told switch off for a few days.
“We felt the guys needed a break. Guys are given freedom to do what they want to for the next couple of days. It’s has been a disappointing couple of games for us so we thought that guys can go and do what they want. Go home or some guys felt they wanted to have some practice in the middle which we couldn’t get here,” he said about their training in at their academy in Mumbai.
“It’s about getting the guys refreshed and coming back ready for the game and just trying to be mentally up for the game again,” Kallis’ answer sounded far from convincing.
Karthik, a questionable selection in India’s 15-member World Cup squad ahead of the talented Rishabh Pant, the veteran Tamil Nadu wicketkeeper has failed to justify his inclusion (even though IPL is not considered as a parameter) either with the bat or with his decisions.
“In the last game, he came up in the batting order but unfortunately got run out. It’s about matching up players and situations. He’s a vital player for us and a world class player,” Kallis tried putting up a brave face.
Gautam Gambhir-led KKR had a dramatic turnaround in their triumphant campaign in 2014 when they won nine matches in a row to lift their second title.
Seeking inspiration from that, Kallis said: “We’ve done it before. It’s almost like there is no tomorrow for us now. Hopefully we can repeat that again this year.
“Certainly it’s possible and the guys will try hard both off the field and on the field. We will be up for the game, that’s for sure. I think everybody wants to do that. The guys will be up for it and will give 100%. There’s still a lot of belief in the change room.”
Their latest defeat came at Sunrisers Hyderabad, who cruised to a thumping nine wickets win on Sunday.
Asked whether there’s any negative vibe in the camp, he said: “I wouldn’t say negative. They do realise that we still have very much chance of qualifying and we’re just going to play some good cricket and I’ll say we’re longer in it in this format there are little percentages that you need to improve in order to turn these things around and we’re not far off. Just a little things that we need to do a little bit better.”