Anil Kumble: Right time for KL Rahul to take over Kings XI captaincy

For Anil Kumble, director of cricket operations at Kings XI Punjab, KL Rahul brings immense value to the side, not just as a quality batsman but as a keeper as well.

KL Rahul will lead the Kings XI Punjab in the IPL next season.   -  AP

Experts believe the King’s XI Punjab, on paper, appears the strongest and best-balanced team for the 2020 edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL). For Anil Kumble, director of cricket operations, the presence of West Indian left-arm fast bowler Sheldon Cottrell and Australian hard-hitting batsman Glenn Maxwell, could well be the critical factor in the squad, along with KL Rahul at the helm. Kumble spoke to Sportstar on the team’s gains from the IPL auction.

READ| IPL 2020 players list: Full squad of Kings XI Punjab

Q) Your initial thoughts on the composition of the team.

A) Happy the auction went well. The idea was to cover all bases and make sure you have enough in the squad to take care of any situation, any opposition, on any surface. So I think it has a blend of raw talent, experience and some wonderful young players who have performed at the highest level.

What would you say is the strength of the team compared to the last couple of seasons?

We wanted to address the bowling to an extent and we are happy that we were able to get (Sheldon) Cottrell along with (James) Neesham who will act as the all-rounder, who has the experience of not just playing international cricket but also in India. We are really happy that we were able to get (Glenn) Maxwell back because he's done well for King’s XI in the past. He's also someone who I've worked with when I was at Mumbai even before he made his debut for Australia. Since this is the World Cup T20 year I'm sure everyone will be looking forward to playing really well in the IPL to make sure that they are in the right form going into the World Cup.

READ| IPL 2020: Full list of all eight updated squads after auction

Your thoughts on the foreign players.

I'm very confident that the foreigners that we have added will only enhance the ability that we have in the others – Mujeeb Ur Rehman, Nicholas Pooran, and of course the Universe Boss (Chris Gayle).

Are you happy with the Indian players in the team?

The Indian players we have picked are those with experience, who can play number five, number six and also bowl a bit. We have Deepak Hooda to play that role. In a T20 game playing number five or six is never easy. But he has the potential. We also have Mandeep (Singh) and Sarfaraz (Ahmed) along with Karun Nair. Some of the youngsters we have picked at the auction, Ishan Porel, who has shown a lot of promise in domestic cricket, has a mature head. We are expecting him to do really well. The other advantage is that he and Mohammad Shami play for the same team. I’m sure that will help. Darshan Nalkande has done very well in Mushtaq Ali. Then we have Arshdeep Singh. Ravi Bishnoi is a good wrist spinner. Wanted to give chance to Prabhsimran Singh, wanted to promote local talent. I have heard some good things about him. So looking forward to working with all these.

IPL AUCTION| As it happened

How do you look at KL Rahul as the captain?

We wanted to give responsibility to KL Rahul. This is the right time for him to take over the mantle and it is important to build a franchise around an Indian player and there's no one better than Rahul. He is extremely talented and we know the quality that he brings to the team as a batsman and as a wicketkeeper if at all he has to keep. And then the respect he commands in the team. Last two years he's been the best performer for the King’s XI with the bat. Obviously, all these things matter. With the kind of support team that we have put together, the coaching team, I strongly believe that we will be able to support Rahul in every way so that he can flourish as a captain.

How would this IPL be different? What could be the decisive factor?

I think the decisive factor will be a blend of experience and potential future stars. Also, the game has evolved. There is no question of any rebuilding phase in a 20-over game. You go full throttle or not. That will be determined. We have the wherewithal to go full throttle and that’s the game we would like to play. For me, it was important to have six, if not seven bowlers as an option for the captain to fall back on because we know that you know, with just five bowlers it’s not easy, especially in evening games with other factors coming into play, like dew, you always want the captain to have some more choices in the playing XI who can contribute with the ball. That’s one of the reasons why we went for Maxwell. We were lucky that Neesham came at a very low price for us. That’s why we wanted someone who could contribute with the ball as well.

How are you are preparing for the tournament?

We are looking at a window in January or early February. We want to have a camp for physical conditioning and take care of injuries if there are any. Foreign players may not be available but we can do it with the Indian players, a two-day get-together kind of camp, to be ready for the game. To tell them their roles and what is expected of them. Work a bit on their skills, assist them in handling pressures, handling situations, enable them to be in the right frame of mind when they enter the tournament.

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