Kolkata Knight Riders coach Jacques Kallis on Tuesday said that his side have not discussed removing Dinesh Karthik as captain after the two-time champions suffered five back-to-back defeats in the Indian Premier League.
“No. We haven’t discussed it, nor it been brought up. So now there’s been no talk about that,” Kallis said, when asked about a possibility of a shake-up a la Rajasthan Royals where Ajinkya Rahane was replaced with Steve Smith.
“Hopefully, he [Karthik] can get in and get us some big runs. That will certainly mean a lot to the team and as much as he wants to do it,” the South African great said of his skipper, who averages a dismal 16.71 from nine innings this season.
It was reported by PTI that KKR owner Shah Rukh Khan called the top players from the team to Mumbai. The Bollywood superstar posted an emotional tweet following their loss to Royal Challengers Banglaore at Eden Gardens on April 19. “I feel it’s only fair for KKR to do something in return for Andre Russell, like winning a few before the season ends.”
When asked whether the team met Khan, Kallis said: “I have not chatted to him since the guys have been in Mumbai. In fact, I think DK went home for a day as well. So we will catch up tomorrow and have a debrief and plan away going forward again for the next game.”
He added, “We all want to perform a little bit better. Yeah, I think everyone’s in that space where we just want to get up and play better cricket and get back on winning ways. Losing certainly isn’t fun.”
While foreign players like Andre Russell were training in Kolkata, Karthik along with Shubman Gill and Kuldeep Yadav trained at the KKR academy in Mumbai.
While news from the team management was about giving players a “break”, the question remained as to why they were training if they have been told switch off for a few days.
“We felt the guys needed a break,” Kallis said. “Guys are given freedom to do what they want to for the next couple of days. It’s has been a disappointing couple of games for us so we thought that guys can go and do what they want. Go home or some guys felt they wanted to have some practice in the middle which we couldn’t get here.”
“It’s about getting the guys refreshed and coming back ready for the game and just trying to be mentally up for the game again.”
Karthik was given the nod ahead of Rishabh Pant for the second wicketkeeper’s spot for the World Cup. The 33-year-old has failed to justify his inclusion [even though IPL is not considered as a parameter] either with the bat or with his decisions.
“In the last game, he came up in the batting order but unfortunately got run out. It’s about matching up players and situations. He’s a vital player for us and a world class player,” Kallis said.
Gautam Gambhir-led KKR had a dramatic turnaround during their triumphant campaign in 2014, where they won nine matches in a row to lift their second title. Seeking inspiration from that, Kallis said: “We’ve done it before. It’s almost like there is no tomorrow for us now. Hopefully we can repeat that again this year.
“Certainly it’s possible and the guys will try hard both off the field and on the field. We will be up for the game, that’s for sure. I think everybody wants to do that. The guys will be up for it and will give 100%. There’s still a lot of belief in the change room.”
Their latest defeat came at Sunrisers Hyderabad, who cruised to a nine-wicket win on Sunday. Kallis denied that negativity had seeped into the KKR camp.
He said: “I wouldn’t say negative.They do realise that we still have very much chance of qualifying and we’re just going to play some good cricket and I’ll say we’re longer in it in this format there are little percentages that you need to improve in order to turn these things around and we’re not far off. Just a little things that we need to do a little bit better.”