Kolkata: Kolkata Knight Riders, who beat Mumbai Indians by seven wickets in the IPL-8 opener, had come to the Eden Gardens on Wednesday with the additional task of reinstating a couple of key players who had had rough rides in the run-up to the tournament.
KKR's Suryakumar Yadav during the IPL-8 opener on Wednesday. Pic/BCCI
Suryakumar Yadav, removed as Mumbai's Ranji Trophy skipper in January, helped take KKR over the line with a 20-ball 46, 'mystery spinner' Sunil Narine, in his first competitive match since being reported for suspect action, did enough with his 'remodeled' action to suggest that he will still be effective.
"We heard something happened and he had to give up the (Mumbai) captaincy; we always thought he was a leader off the field and wanted to groom him," said skipper Gautam Gambhir after the match.
"That's the difference between KKR and other franchises. Other franchises may be grooming players, but we groom the individual. Hopefully, after this season he'll be a far more mature individual and a much better player," he added.
Gambhir informed that the 24-year-old was named vice-captain just before the night match "to give him more responsibility to get the best out of him".
Gambhir had mentioned Yadav as 'one to watch out for' at the toss too.
Mumbai Indians skipper Rohit Sharma too was full of praise of his Mumbai Ranji Trophy teammate. "He knows his strengths and sticks to them; I think that's a great thing he has. Mumbai captaincy has made him more mature this year; he reads the game very well now," said Sharma.
Yadav had to step down as Mumbai captain after being accused of lacking man-management skills. The Mumbai Cricket Association (MCA) also issued a showcause notice to him for abusing a teammate during Mumbai's Ranji Trophy campaign.
Stint with MI
Yadav had been a member of the MI squad since 2011, but played just one match the next season. Having been picked at the 2014 player auction, he has repaid the faith the KKR management has placed in him. He played some crucial cameos last season. However, his elevation to No 4 in the batting order in IPL opener was just the kind of boost he needed.
Narine impresses Gauti
Meanwhile, Narine had a nervous start, presenting a 'put me away' full-toss first up, but he was soon hurrying MI batsmen into their strokes. He could have had the wicket of Sharma in his final over had Robin Uthappa not dropped him behind the stumps.
Despite Narine going for a boundary and a six off the next couple of deliveries, the West Indian still managed to finish with a decent figure of 4-0-28-0. At the post-match media interaction, Gambhir didn't forget to point out that the comeback spelt "character". The Knights will be relieved that the two that were rattled are now ready.