Kolkata Knight Riders head coach Brendon McCullum is upbeat about the fast bowlers KKR have in their armoury going into their first game of the 2020 IPL. KKR’s pace attack lacked experience last year, which resulted in a below-average 2019 IPL campaign.
But this time, KKR have a quality, experienced international fast bowler in Pat Cummins. Other than Cummins, KKR has the likes of Shivam Mavi, Prasidh Krishna, Sandeep Warrier and Nagarkoti, who might be inexperienced in the IPL but have enough potential to run through the opposition batting line-ups on their day.
“They do lack a bit of experience in terms of game time but there’s also no scars with them,” said McCullum. “They’ve got a lot of talent. They work really well as a unit. I’ve been so, so impressed with the skills. They are different in the ways they operate which, tactically, is a crucial thing. There are a couple of superstars in the making in our line-up.”
On Cummins, McCullum said, “Cummins was the key buy when it comes to overseas bowlers. For us, it was also about his ability to take early wickets. If we can do that, we know we have quality spinners. I am really content with the attack we’ve got.”
McCullum emphasized that the wickets in the UAE will not be the usual slow and low turners, instead the pacers will be the ones to be assisted immensely. He said, “The wickets are going to surprise a lot of people. They are going to be very fresh and very helpful for seam bowling. In which case we’ve got Nagarkoti, Mavi, Warrier and Prasidh. And then Cummins, Ali Khan and Lockie, and Russell, who all bowl 140-plus.
“As the tournament wears on, spin will come to the fore. We are very fortunate with our spin bowling group as well. Narine can bowl on any surface. I am very comfortable with the bowling attack we’ve got.”
McCullum then talked about Eoin Morgan’s role in the team, stating that Morgan will not only provide support to Karthik in terms of leadership but will also be crucial in the way they want to use Russell’s impact with the bat. On Russell, McCullum said, “If we look at his career, the last four years, what we’ve seen is a player who has taken his belief in his game and has led a nation to completely change how they play their cricket.
“Now when you see him bat, he’s completely free, he’s content with his game. He’s playing a game that he wanted to play when he was younger but probably didn’t have the confidence to. He’s the best middle-order batsman in the last limited-overs format.
“Eoin, from our point of view, was a fantastic get at the IPL auction because we wanted to provide some resources around Russell’s six-hitting ability,” said McCullum. “He’s the guy we were desperate to get and him batting around Russell and Karthik gives us a really strong middle-order.
“I guess the thing we are going to pride ourselves in this edition is being a really smart team and utilising our resources against various match-ups. Russell’s game is really suited to the last ten overs of a T20 game where he can really control it but there may be times, when the match-ups are right, we can enter him a little bit earlier. We’ve got a lot of resources to choose from.”