Kolkata Knight Riders captain Dinesh Karthik said that he believes his team is the best managed franchise in the Indian Premier League.

Karthik was bought by KKR in the 2018 IPL auctions for a price of Rs 7.4 crore and took over as captain from Gautam Gambhir.

“I think I have come to probably one of the most balanced and loving franchises. I have thoroughly enjoyed my time with KKR, easily the best franchise I have played for, in terms of ownership and the way they have taken care of all the players,” the cricketer said.

In the 12 seasons of Indian Premier League so far, Karthik had played for Delhi Daredevils, Kings XI Punjab, Mumbai Indians, Royal Challengers Bangalore and Gujarat Lions, before being bought by KKR.

One of the most capped players in the league, the wicketkeeper-batsman has played a total of 182 games, scoring 3,654 runs.

Speaking on The RK Show on YouTube, Karthik said, “The one thing that goes with being with other teams is you see how the owners, how they treat players, how they react to wins and losses. Over a period of time, I have realised that KKR is the best when it comes to handling of players, handling of wins and losses, and overall camaraderie and the relationship they tend to have through the year, irrespective of whether the IPL is going on or not.”

The 35-year-old credited the team management for creating a healthy and loving atmosphere that has seen the team thrive and win two IPL titles. He was also full of praise for owner Shah Rukh Khan and CEO and Managing Director Venky Mysore.

“Only when you want to come back and play for the franchise that the extra effort that you need to give when push comes to shove will come out. And a lot of it is driven by Shah Rukh Khan and Venky Mysore. When you have wonderful people like that it makes playing the sport easy,” said Karthik.

“With a lot of love and affection also comes a different sort of pressure, where you want to do stuff for them. You want to show that you are repaying the amount of faith they have in you. It’s a very positive thing,” he added.

Speaking about captaining the side, Karthik said that it was one of the best things to happen in his career and he hopes he can lead them to another title soon.

“I think it came at a time when I felt it was the right time. The first year went great, the second year – when it came to results – it wasn’t as good as we wanted because we couldn’t qualify [for the playoffs], but overall, the journey has been terrific. The boys have responded well to me, and it should translate into results soon,” said Karthik.

In 2019, all-rounder Andre Russell had complained about “bad decisions” made by the team and blamed an unhealthy team atmosphere for their poor results. Karthik said that as team captain he had resolved this conflict by having a constructive discussion with the West Indies player.

“To be fair, he’s one of those guys who wears his heart on his sleeve. We had a conversation over it. We discussed it out. He wasn’t happy that the team wasn’t winning, that is the bottom line. Whatever he said, I completely respected it,” said Karthik.

“He got a taste of Indian media as well, he realised that what is said and what comes out can be two different things. He was a little apologetic as well. At the end of the day, I have a great relationship with him. If I didn’t have a great relationship with him, it could have spiralled into something nasty,” the captain said.

Karthik explained that honesty is the key to his leadership style and he isn’t afraid to have tough conversations with his teammates.

“As a leader, I think having different opinions and dealing with it is one of the most important things. You need to be able to stand up and have a conversation, sometimes a hard conversation. Leadership is a lot like friendship as well, at a stage you need to sit down and have a conversation to iron things out so that you can move forward,” he said.

“One of the keys to it is honesty, that’s what most players require. Sometimes, you have to say the hard things even though players don’t like it. But you have to say it in a way that is as positive as possible. I think it’s very easy to harm people with words, you need to make sure that you don’t hurt the person but you get the message across in the nicest way possible. Sometimes, it’s taken well, sometimes it’s not. It’s impossible to please everybody.”

You can watch the full episode with Karthik here: