Katich: ‘KKR has shown the character’

Katich congratulated Dinesh Karthik for adjusting to the demands of a new franchise, quickly, and making a big contribution to the side as a batsman, wicketkeeper and as the captain.

“To be able to put that behind mentally, go back and be able to regroup is a testament to the group and character of the team,”said Simon Katich.   -  Special Arrangement

Being able to deliver when it matters shows the true mettle of the side, the Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) assistant coach Simon Katich referred to three wins at the end that took his side to the playoffs as an indication of the things to come. Katich congratulated Dinesh Karthik for adjusting to the demands of a new franchise, quickly, and making a big contribution to the side as a batsman, wicketkeeper and as the captain.

Speaking on the eve of his team’s outing against Rajasthan Royals (RR) in the IPL Eliminator on Wednesday, Katich said that the remarkable recovery KKR made after suffering back-to-back losses against Mumbai Indians (MI) can help the team tackle the pressure of the playoffs better.

On the team’s performance so far:

“We do have a totally different squad to the last couple of years. We had a very experienced team which had a lot of success. There are still a number of those players involved in that setup. Guys like Robin Uthappa and Piyush Chawla, Andre Russell and Sunil Narine. Their experience is valuable. We have a lot of youngsters. Players like Shubman Gill will play in a playoff match for the first time in front of a packed Eden Gardens.”

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On getting the home advantage in Eliminator:

“It is nice since we have played seven games already here. We know what the conditions are like. Yet, come tomorrow night, we both start from scratch, so what has happened in the past does not count for us too much. We all know, in T20, it is all about what happens on a particular night. Still, it will be nice playing in front of our home crowd, they support us brilliantly. And the boys love playing here."

On how his side coped with the demands of the tournament:

“It depends on the perspective. I know after the auction, there was a lot of discussion about the size of our squad, the amount of youth we picked as well as the experience. There will always be speculation as to how the squad is going to perform, so internally, we were confident about our squad. We have a lot of guys with IPL experience."

"When you look through our team, we have eight-nine players who have played a lot of IPL and T20 cricket. We have thrown in a couple of fresh faces. It is an exciting squad with a nice blend. We have had hard times, like not having a spearhead with Mitchell Starc pulling out. The way the guys have adapted has been excellent and the belief in the group has been very good as well. The tough part starts now.”

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About captain Dinesh Karthik:

"It's always difficult when you come to a new franchise. You have to learn on your feet in terms of how your players go about it and also our game style, which probably is a bit different from what he has been used to, given the way we match-up with our batting and potentially three spinners."

"He has certainly learnt a lot in these seven weeks about the group and the way we play. His batting has been outstanding. He has been on the top of his game. His wicketkeeping has been obviously good. From the captaincy point of view, he has learnt a lot throughout the tournament from what he was seven weeks ago. We have been very lucky from that point of view."

On KKR showing character under pressure:

"It is always a different feeling in the playoffs because you know there is no tomorrow. We can't afford to have a bad night. However, we have been in that situation in last three games, really, with the position we put ourselves into after back-to-back losses to Mumbai. It put us under pressure going back to that game in Indore (against Kings XI Punjab)... I think that has been the testament to the character the team has shown."

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"The loss against Mumbai was the heaviest we ever had in 11 years... To be able to put that behind mentally, go back and be able to regroup is a testament to the group and a character of the team. We would like to think that it would hold us in good stead tomorrow night. Though, as I said before, it does not guarantee you anything, unfortunately."

On Ajinkya Rahane’s captaincy:

"He is a very experienced player and an accomplished cricketer. The fact that Rajasthan is in the playoffs is no surprise, given the talent they have got in the squad, but also the level of leadership from Ajinkya. So, there is no surprise there."

"Also the fact that they have got a very good mentor in Shane Warne, whose cricketing brain is outstanding. Yes, they will miss Jos Buttler and Ben Stokes as they are high-quality players, but we all know this gives an opportunity to someone else. We have seen that ourselves. Not having Starc, the youngsters have got an opportunity to step up."