KKR looking up to McCullum for change of fortunes (Team Profile)

April 17th, 2009 - 7:13 pm ICT by IANS  

Shah Rukh Khan Cape Town, April 17 (IANS) Shah Rukh Khan-owned Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) have been the most controversial team in the run-up to the second season of the India Premier League with John Buchanan’s multiple-captains sparking a debate. A day before the start of IPL, KKR handed the captaincy to explosive Brendon McCullum, removing Sourav Ganguly.
Ganguly, who led the team in the first IPL season, and West Indies captain Chris Gayle have been given the role of senior management in the team.

KKR square up against Deccan Chargers here Sunday, and would hope to put the controversy behind and make a fresh beginning.

The dashing wicketkeeper-batsman McCullum gave a rousing start to IPL last year with a breathtaking 156 against Bangalore Royal Challengers in the opening match. But McCullum’s innings remained the only highlight as KKR’s performance dipped and they finished sixth. It would look for a similar spark of inspiration from the Kiwi opener to change their fortunes.

The good news for KKR is that McCullum will be available for the entire season alongside West Indies captain Gayle. Both in-form players are the backbone of KKR’s batting line-up.

Former India captain Ganguly, who quit international cricket last year, has been through such unfamiliar territory before. The Bengal stalwart is at his best when pushed to the wall.

The team will miss Australian David Hussey, who had a successful season last year, as he is likely to join the squad in the latter half of the tournament after completing his national duty in the ODI series against Pakistan in the UAE.

In the bowling department, KKR will miss Pakistani fast bowlers Umar Gul and the charismatic Shoaib Akhtar.

Gul had an exceptional IPL season last year and even though his absence might be felt, in-form Ishant Sharma will be looking to step into his shoes.

The focus will be on Bangladesh medium pacer Mashrafe Mortaza, who is also known for his big hitting abilities. KKR bought Mortaza for a whopping $600,000 after an intense round of bidding with Preity Zinta’s Kings XI Punjab, the longest in the IPL auction.

Sri Lanka’s mystery bowler Ajantha Mendis will be the player to watch out for with his bag of tricks and fresh from his success in international cricket. The underrated Twenty20 specialist Murali Karthik will also add teeth to KKR’s attack.

Squad: Brendon McCullum (captain), Sourav Ganguly, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ishant Sharma, Iqbal Abdullah, Ashok Dinda, Wriddhiman Saha, David Hussey, Yashpal Singh, Murali Kartik, Ajit Agarkar, Aakash Chopra, Debabrata Das, Moises Henriques, Mark Cameron, Angelo Mathews, Mashrafe Mortaza, Ajantha Mendis, Laxmi Ratan Shukla, Chris Gayle, Morne van Wyk and Brad Hodge.

Coach: John Buchanan

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