Two-time IPL champions Kolkata Knight Riders are currently having their preparatory camp in Kolkata. The first two days of the camp were held at the JU Campus Ground in Salt Lake before it was shifted to the Eden Gardens. The Dinesh Karthik-led side will square off against 2016 winners Sunrisers Hyderabad in their first game of the season at the Eden Gardens on March 24. While most of the players have attended the camp already, a few others like Kuldeep Yadav, Sunil Narine, Harry Gurney, Carlos Brathwaite and Anrich Nortje are yet to join the team.
Meanwhile, Kerala’s Sandeep Warrier and Karnataka’s KC Cariappa have been roped in as replacements for the injured pair of Kamlesh Nagarkoti and Shivam Mavi respectively. Warrier had an impressive domestic season, which saw him capture 44 wickets in the Ranji Trophy, 12 wickets in the Vijay Hazare Trophy and 8 wickets (including a hat-trick against Andhra Pradesh) in the Syed Mushtaq Ali T20 tournament. It was largely due to his performance with the ball that Kerala
On the other hand, Cariappa, who was a vital member of the Karnataka team which recently won the Syed Mushtaq Ali tournament, returns to his first IPL franchise after four years. The twenty-four-year-old leg-spinner was picked by KKR for Rs. 2.4 crore at the 2015 IPL auction, but was given just one game against RCB on April 11, 2015. The next two seasons saw him ply his trade for Kings XI Punjab, but his mediocre performance for the Punjab-based team led to his exclusion from the 2018 edition of the tournament.
‘’He (Cariappa) did really well in the Syed Mushtaq Ali tournament and definitely deserves a spot’’, KKR bowling coach Omkar Salvi told reporters on the sidelines of the practice session on Sunday. Cariappa managed ten scalps from eleven games at a parsimonious economy rate of 5.02 in the Syed Mushtaq Ali tournament. When asked about the reason behind adding Sandeep Warrier to the KKR roster, Salvi replied, ‘’Our talent scouts have been following the performances of the domestic players over the course of the last one year, and they have recommended his name quite strongly.’’
Variety in the bowling department has been one of KKR’s distinguishing features. However, injuries to key players in the past few seasons of the IPL have caused major problems for the team management owing to the lack of suitable alternatives. Last season, Mitchell Starc and Kamlesh Nagarkoti were ruled out of the tournament without playing a single game. This year though, Salvi believes that they’ve procured good back-up options. ‘’This year, we are lucky to have Harry Gurney and Lockie Ferguson in the squad. Cariappa’s inclusion has added more variety to the spin department. He has evolved a lot as a bowler since the last time he played for KKR’’, Salvi said.
KKR has always had stars from yesteryear as their bowling coach. From Wasim Akram to Brett Lee to Lakshmipathy Balaji to Heath Streak, each of the team’s previous bowling coaches has played his cricket at the highest level. Compared to them, Salvi comes across as a lesser-known name. Does that put pressure on the former Mumbai bowling coach? ‘’I am feeling very good over here. The team atmosphere is very congenial and I am keen to work with the likes of Narine, Krishna, Lockie and all the other bowlers’’, he affirmed.
The KKR Academy was launched in July last year with a view to