IPL 2018: Captain Dinesh Karthik's big 'debut' to set the tone for Kolkata Knight Riders
Newly-appointed Kolkata Knight Riders captain Karthik will want to start campaign on a high against heavyweights RCB at Eden Gardens on Sunday
Kolkata Knight Riders' head coach Jacques Kallis talks to his boys during a training session at Eden Gardens on Friday. Pic/PTI
Dinesh Karthik's blinder at the Nidahas Trophy T20 final just didn't propel Team India to an unlikely title-triumph but would have also put him in the right space before the onerous task he is saddled with. Asked to fill the big boots of Gautam Gambhir at the Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR), the calm and fearlessness 'DK', displayed during that eight-ball 29 and did his bit in buttressing belief in his leadership as KKR launch a new chapter at IPL-11 here today.
KKR's first test comes from Virat Kohli's Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB), three-time finalists desperate for their first title. RCB too have a big player missing this time. "Chris [Gayle] has done a great job but we were planning for a three-year period," Kohli said of the RCB 'disinterest' in Gayle at the auction.
In Kohli, AB de Villiers and Brendon McCullum still present ominous fire-power up the order, and RCB have plugged a few holes in their attack with new acquisitions. "We will surprise a few with our bowling," promised Kohli. Interestingly, three key bowling options — Chris Woakes, Umesh Yadav and Colin de Grandhomme — had turned out for KKR last season. In Yuzvendra Chahal, RCB have retained a match-winning spinner.
KKR have got the better of RCB in recent times and nothing has been more dramatic than their dismissal of the Bangalore boys for a record low of 49 at the Eden Gardens last year.
The injury to new acquisition Mitchell Starc has hit KKR hard. The Aussie pacer was to be their main strike bowler as well as mentor to the likes of U-19 World Cup-winning pacers Kamlesh Nagarkoti and Shivam Mavi.
"That calm is what I hope to bring to my captaincy," Karthik said when asked about the Colombo knock. With Kuldeep Yadav, Piyush Chawla and Sunil Narine making for a potent spin attack, and the likes of Chris Lynn, Robin Uthappa and Andre Russell still around, the new skipper has enough to build on.