Brendon McCullum, the head coach of Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR), has admitted that his team was “paralysed a little bit by fear” when several positive COVID-19 cases across franchises led to the indefinite postponement of the IPL 2021.
The first half of the 14th edition of the IPL in India witnessed a total of 29 games before a sudden increase in the positive cases pushed the Board o f Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) to make the tough call with immediate effect. Varun Chakravarthy and Sandeep Warrier were the first to test positive and the game KKR and the Royal Challengers Bangalore in Ahmedabad, originally scheduled for May 3, was postponed. Later, there were confirmed cases in the Chennai Super Kings and Sunrisers Hyderabad setups too.
McCullum, who smashed a blistering 158* on his IPL debut for KKR, is hopeful that his team will be able to get rid of the anxiety that affected them early on in this year’s tournament.
“There were sometimes throughout the season when I just felt we were being paralysed a little bit by fear,” he said.
“I wasn’t able to free the guys up enough to understand that and that’s sort of a challenge for me. But it is also a good challenge for the guys as well that they need to push the envelope of their own thinking as well.
“Hopefully we will be able to strip away a bit of the angst which had built up in the first part of the season, just go out there and try and enjoy ourselves,” he added.
‘Need to Hit the Ground Running’
While KKR, the two-time IPL champions, are languishing at the seventh spot with five defeats and just two victories, McCullum is confident of improved performances when the tournament resumes from September 19 in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
“In regards to the tournament which is upcoming (second half of the IPL phase), we can end it right. We can take the game on and we’re in a situation where we need things to go our way,” McCullum was quoted as saying by the KKR website.
“We need to hit the ground running, challenge one another privately, support one another publicly and try and get the best out of one another in the next 4-5 weeks. Who knows where we can go with this.”
KKR will recommence their IPL 2021 campaign against Royal Challengers Bangalore on September 20 in Abu Dhabi.