Russell’s absence doesn’t put us on the back foot: Yusuf

IPL 2017

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.

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Source: http://www.cricbuzz.com/cricket-news/93742/russells-absence-doesnt-put-us-on-the-back-foot-yusuf

Everyone needs to fill in for Andre Russell’s absence: Gautam Gambhir

Gautam Gambhir leads KKR in IPL. (Source: Express Photo) Gautam Gambhir leads KKR in IPL. (Source: Express Photo)

Two-time champions Kolkata Knight Riders will be missing their key all-rounder Andre Russell but skipper Gautam Gambhir wants his team to treat the Jamaican’s absence as an “opportunity in bold letters” during the upcoming Indian Premier League.

The flamboyant Russell has been handed a one-year ban for violating anti-doping whereabouts regulations and KKR now have England’s Chris Woakes as a like-for-like replacement picked from the auctions.

“There are two ways to look at such situations in life. Either we can see Russell’s absence as a challenge or look at it as an opportunity in bold letters. I as an individual, and KKR as a group, are looking it as an opportunity,” Gambhir told PTI during an interview.

Asked if Woakes could fill in for Russell as a batsman, Gambhir gave an interesting answer.

“Maybe a combination of Manish Pandey’s batting and Ankit Rajput’s bowling can get us what Russell did. Not only Woakes but the entire team can try to fill-in for Russell and for that you don’t necessarily need an all-rounder. May be some other pair can do this,” said Gambhir.

The seasoned opener doesn’t believe that it helps brooding when one is a leader.

“I better be looking at glass half full,” he said.

Gambhir reckons that the core Indian group of batsmen like Manish Pandey, Surya Kumar Yadav and Robin Uthappa will have to take more responsibility on a relaid Eden track where pacers will have more advantage.

“From a track that used to favour spinners, it now has good deal of pace and bounce in it. With that as a background, batting has to be top-class. The rival team fast bowlers will come hard at us and we have to be ready for that.”

Talking about pace on Eden Gardens track, New Zealander Trent Boult’s presence would certainly add variety to KKR’s bowling season.

“We had left-arm pacemen in Jaydev Unadkat and Pradeep Sangwan in the past and understand the value of this skill that Boult brings in. Boult, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Umesh Yadav, Ankit Rajput and Woakes. We have all bases covered when it comes to fast bowling.”

Sunil Narine used to be a mystery spinner and strike bowler for KKR before he had to remodel his bowling action due to allegations of chucking.

But the former India ODI captain insists that Narine is still a force to reckon with despite adjusting to his new action.

“I think we start judging people a little too soon. You can’t expect a golfer, who has changed his swing to be the same force from day one on the greens. I have changed my stance (to open chested) and it’s been close to two years now and I am still settling with it. Give Sunil some time and some space and he will show you his wares again.”

On the personal front, the milestone of becoming the first franchise captain to win a hat-trick of IPL titles beckons Gambhir.

“The pressure is normal. We have to win and if we do we will create history by being the first franchisee to win IPL three times. In that sense you can say there is pressure,” he said.

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Source: http://indianexpress.com/article/sports/cricket/ipl-2017-10/everyone-needs-to-fill-in-for-andre-russells-absence-gautam-gambhir-4596610/