Sambaran Banerjee, former national selector, is of the view that players will not be affected by his absence. He felt that for the team, the more important aspect would be to get back to winning ways.
“In a way it may be a blessing for KKR since they have nothing to lose. They may just play a lot better and without any pressure,” he said.
But what has led to the defending champions to be in such a tight spot this season?
“You cannot mess around with your batting line-up in almost every match. Even tomorrow, KKR will have to decide which four foreign players they will field. They need to dig deep and play to their potential. If Manoj Tiwary is fit, then he must play,” he said.
Devang Gandhi, former India player who has been a cornerstone of the Bengal Ranji Trophy team over the years, felt KKR have to play for pride. “Whether Shah Rukh Khan is present or not should not be of any importance to the players. If he wants to motivate them, he can always visit them at the team hotel.
No one can stop him there. But the players have to perform on field,” he opined.
“Last season, when KKR emerged champions, every player chipped in. But this time, they have not really been able to play as a cohesive team.
With only five matches to go, it may seem farfetched that they can make it to the play-offs. But remember they are the champions. So there is a lot at stake, even if it is just pride.
“If they win say four of the next five matches, they will have moral vindication and go into the next season with conviction.
“But, at the same time, too many losses at this stage will not only make this season worse, but will also mar their next year,” Gandhi added.
Bengal player Shiv Sagar Singh also said that Shah Rukh’s absence should not be a factor influencing KKR’s performance. “The pressure on them will be more because they are not really playing like champions this year. They need to get their act together and recreate the magic that was there in the last season,” he said.
So, will Shah Rukh still lord it over at the Wankhede, at least in spirit? Only KKR players can ensure that with a victory.