Russell’s absence doesn’t put us on the back foot: Yusuf
Kathakali Banerjee • Last updated on Mon, 03 Apr, 2017, 07:30 AM
Competition for spots is healthy, feels Yusuf Pathan. © Getty
Countdown to the new season has begun and Kolkata Knight Riders are looking to make it count in the 10th edition of the Indian Premier League which gets under way on Wednesday (April 5). The Knight Riders, who launch their campaign against Gujarat Lions in Rajkot on April 7, are still looking to get their team combination right.
Senior pro Yusuf Pathan feels that bowling will be KKR’s strength this season. “This year we have a lot of variety,” said the swashbuckling all-rounder, ahead of their practice session at the Eden Gardens on Sunday. The KKR management picked up England’s Chris Woakes, New Zealand’s Trent Boult, Australian Nathan Coulter-Nile and Caribbean speedster Rovman Powell at the auction in order to bolster their pace attack that also includes Team India pacer Umesh Yadav.
Gautam Gambhir’s side is also well stacked in the spin department with the likes of off-spinner Sunil Narine, left-arm spinner Shakib Al Hasan, leg-spinner Piyush Chawla and left-arm chinaman bowler Kuldeep Yadav in the ranks.
Talking about young Kuldeep, who made a fine Test debut against Australia in Dharamshala last month, Pathan said: “He has a bright future and should do very well for us.”
Apart from genuine all-rounders like Shakib, Yusuf and Woakes, KKR also have a number of bowlers like Chawla, Kuldeep, and Rishi Dhawan who are handy customers with the bat. Yusuf reckons this will add a lot of depth to KKR’s batting. “When you have such a wide variety of players competing for spots in the playing XI, it is a healthy sign,” Pathan added. KKR will, however, miss the all-round talent of Andre Russell, who copped a ban for violating Wada’s anti-doping code. “He had a lot of positive impact on the team in the last couple of seasons and his lively presence in the dressing room will be missed,” Pathan said.
“I don’t agree that Russell’s absence puts us on the back foot. In a long tournament like IPL, teams are bound to miss key players at times for a variety of reasons. We have to look ahead and work with the ones who are available,” he added.
Woakes, picked as Russell’s replacement, arrived in the city on Saturday night and joined the team practice on Sunday. But Powell, Shakib, Boult and Narine are expected to join the squad in Rajkot, hours before KKR’s first match.
Asked whether it will hurt the team’s performance Pathan said, “We are playing our first couple of matches away from home. It takes the pressure off us. We are well aware of the conditions in Rajkot and Mumbai. As professional cricketers we are expected to adapt quickly,” he added.