The twelfth edition of the Indian Premier League is expected to hold special significance for those Indian players in particular, who are on the fringes but are not yet guaranteed a spot in the probable fifteen-member squad for the World Cup. Kolkata Knight Riders captain Dinesh Karthik is one of them.
The two-time IPL champions begin their 2019 campaign with a home game against 2016 winners Sunrisers Hyderabad at the Eden Gardens on Sunday. Speaking to the media in the pre-match press conference at Eden on Saturday evening, Karthik emphasized that the lesser he thinks about the World Cup, the better it would be for him to concentrate on KKR. “I am sure the World Cup [selection] will take care of itself if it happens. As of now, it is important for me to do well for KKR. Every IPL that I play is special for me that year, and this IPL is therefore no different”, Karthik, who was left out of the Indian squad for the ODI series against Australia, said.
Nineteen-year-old Shubman Gill was sent to bat at three in the nets on Saturday. When asked if this would be his batting order against Hyderabad the day after, Karthik replied, “Batting order in the nets has got nothing to do with his batting position in the game tomorrow. Our batting is very flexible, so we will assess the situation first and then decide on the batting order accordingly.”
Injury, which has been a frequent visitant in the KKR camp over the years, is a major concern for them this year as well with Kamlesh Nagarkoti, Shivam Mavi and Anrich Nortje having been ruled out for the entire season. How do these injuries affect the team combination? The KKR skipper prefers to be pragmatic in this regard. “We would have loved to have Nagarkoti, Mavi and Nortje. The situation is what it is. This is a thing, which is totally out of our control”, Karthik opined.
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The thirty-three-year-old wicket-keeper batsman was all praise for Sunrisers Hyderabad’s Rashid Khan, whose all-round display (34* off 10 balls and 3/19) in last year’s second qualifier in Kolkata, knocked Karthik’s men out of the competition. “He is a very good bowler; a special bowler in T20s. Our job will be to tackle him to the best of our abilities and stick to our game plan. Having said that, they are a very good bowling attack, and it is going to be an interesting game with two good teams playing against each other”, Karthik said about Rashid and the Sunrisers team.
According to Karthik, the curator of Eden Gardens has done a ‘great job’ by making the tracks more sporting than it earlier used to be. “The soil has changed a bit and that has provided a lot more pace and bounce. That’s something we’ve enjoyed as a team and we’ve embraced it. It’s one of the best wickets in India, given the amount of pace and
When quizzed whether both Andre Russell and Carlos Brathwaite could be seen playing together in Sunday’s game, Karthik replied, “I am sure going forward in the tournament, an opportunity would throw itself up. We haven’t decided on the combination as yet, but if
Be it for KKR or for the national side, Karthik has revelled in his role as a finisher in recent times. Last season, he made 498 runs from 16 games at an average of 49.80 and a strike rate of 147.77, batting mostly at five or six. Would he be seen essaying the same role this season? “It all depends on a particular situation. There are some games in which you need to anchor the innings, while in some others, you can play with more freedom. Having a lot of experience is a good thing in such situations, because I can use it to bat according to the requirements of the team. Definitely, if the team requires me to finish off games, I will do that, but obviously you would want to bat higher up the order, because you then get the opportunity to bat more overs and showcase your skills”, Karthik said before signing off.