IPL 2020: KKR head coach McCullum calls Morgan the 'best middle-order' batsman

KKR head coach Brendon McCullum discusses World Cup winner Morgan's role in and around Dinesh Karthik and Andre Russell in the IPL.

Brendon McCullum coming on the back of a Caribbean Premier League triumph with Trinbago Knight Riders, touched down in the United Arab Emirates on Friday.   -  Getty Images

Kolkata Knight Riders head coach Brendon McCullum is stoked to supervise a side that comprises Eoin Morgan, Pat Cummins, Andre Russell, Dinesh Karthik and Shubman Gill.

The New Zealander, coming on the back of a Caribbean Premier League triumph with Trinbago Knight Riders, touched down in the United Arab Emirates on Friday.

In a virtual press conference, McCullum emphasised on the role of Morgan and Cummins around skipper Karthik. “Morgan was a fantastic pick in the IPL auction. We wanted to provide a little bit of resource around Russell’s six-hitting abilities.  We wanted to have a bit of leadership around skipper Karthik. Morgan has won the World Cup for England and he has been a standout leader in world cricket.

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“We were desperate to get him to bat around Russell and Karthik to have a strong middle-order. Russell hit 54 sixes last year. His game is suited to the last 10 overs of the T20 game when he can control it. We can have him a little bit earlier if needed but that will be horses for courses,” said McCullum.

Morgan and McCullum have been friends for a long time, which makes the latter’s job easier. In fact, he believes the Irishman is one of the best at present. “In the last five years, he became a player who took belief in his game. He led a nation and completely changed how the whole country played cricket. And now they have won the World Cup. He understands his game and he is playing his game which he probably wanted to do when younger. He is playing freely and is incredibly dangerous. He is probably the best middle-order batsman in the shorter version in the last couple of years,” he said.

Pace pack

KKR has eight quality pacers in Shivam Mavi, Sandeep Warrier, Kamlesh Nagarkoti, Prasidh Krishna, Lockie Ferguson, Cummins, Russell and Ali Khan.

McCullum believes the seamers will come into play in Abu Dhabi. “The wickets are going to be helpful for seam bowling. When we get to Sharjah and Dubai, spin will come to the fore, Sunil Narine can bowl on any wicket,” said McCullum, who had set the IPL stage open by smashing a brilliant 158 off 73 balls on the opening night in 2008, and coincidentally for KKR.

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But as a coach, he wants to gauge the strengths and weaknesses of players and have a mix of “touch players” as well as “aggressive players” in the playing XI.

McCullum had earlier stated that Gill is expected to be part of the leadership group. He stands by his decision. “Shubman is a quality player. He has the craft and I see him batting at the top of the order throughout his campaign. I am really impressed with the way he carries himself and the way he plays. He has a presence about him even at a young age. He has a big role. DK really respects him for his cricket brain.”

 

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