Kolkata: Kolkata Knight Riders assistant coach Simon Katich feels that a hughly seasoned captain like Mahendra Singh Dhoni must have had his reasons for not giving full quota of overs to his premier spinner Ravichandran Ashwin in most of the recent IPL matches.
Simon Katich. Pic/Suresh KK
"Obviously, MS has his reasons. He's an highly experienced successful captain. And, that's the hard thing about T20 from the captain's point of view," Katich told reporters on the sidelines of KKR training session, ahead of their Saturday's clash against Rising Pune Supergiants.
Ashwin has not bowled his quota of four overs in 10 of his last 20 Twenty20 games that included five games for Rising Pune Supergiants in the ongoing IPL as opinions have been divided. "There are certain moments of the game where you have to go one way or the other. If it goes per plan, the captain looks like a genius. But if it does not his tactics get questioned.
"It's never easy. I think whether it's based on form, the gut feel or the actual conditions, there's obviously a reason. MS went on that path without doubt for a reason. I guess he's the man to answer and not me..." Slipped to third place after their loss to Gujarat Lions, KKR have to win a minimum two matches from their remaining four matches so as to make the playoff and Katich said they're not taking it easy as they had lost out on a last-four berth narrowly in 2015.
"It's been a topsy-turvy tournament for a lot of teams point of view. Gujarat Lions got off to a flying start and went on to lose three matches on the trot, certainly a number of other teams, have also struggled. We lost our last game but have a couple of successive home games now. "Hopefully, we turn it around and take some positive momentum into a possible playoff campaign.
There's still a lot of work to go. We don't assume that it's given after what happened last year. We want to make sure that we don't leave the job till the last game. I thinks it's going to be a tight tournament as we see the points table at the moment. The next four games are vital to make sure we finish in a good position."
The Eden wicket is not helping spinners as it used to be earlier but Katich refused to complain and backed his spinners. "Certainly, it has not spun square on this wicket. But it's been a good cricket wicket, especially the quickies have got swing. The batsmen have all enjoyed batting on it, can't complain about the wicket."
Asked about their spinners, he said: "I don't think we're concerned how our spinners have performed, different times all have played vital roles." Katich also had high praise for his fellow Australian legspinner Adam Zampa who grabbed a six-wicket haul but only to lose to Sunrisers Hyderabad by four runs.
"Zampa had a very good game in their last match. He has not had many opportunities in this tournament. He did a very good job but they obviously fell short with the bat. He's a very good young prospect."
But the conditions would be different here for the Pune duo of Ashwin and Zampa as the Eden track was not offering much turn this time around. Katich further said the fourth wicket on which the Kings XI Punjab match was held would be used for tomorrow's game. "I think the wicket on which we played Kings XI but probably it did not spin as much as we would have thought."
Their loss to Hyderabad meant Pune's hopes to qualify for play-offs is as good as over but Katich said they're not taking them lightly. "Every game we play will be tough. It's such an even competition. The same amount of plan and preparation go into every team we play. We can't just roll up and expect to win. We have to work hard to win. Pune missed out last night but Bangalore still could win the four games."
Sunil Narine, who missed their last two games because of a finger injury, was seen bowling at the nets for close to an hour and the KKR assistant coach felt that the offspinner would be fit for the match Saturday. "We're pretty positive he will be fit for Saturday. He's feeling a lot better given that we had a bit of break since
our last game against Gujarat."