Kolkata Knight Riders’ (KKR) constant changes to their playing XI and their decision to drop two of their retained players Venkatesh Iyer and Varun Chakravarthy have attracted a lot of criticism from fans and experts alike. The two-time champions have used most number of players (20) in IPL 2022 and the opening combination has been their most unsettled are. They started with Ajinkya Rahane and Venkatesh Iyer, then played Aaron Finch, Sunil Narine, Sam Billings and in their last encounter against Rajasthan Royals pushed Baba Indrajith up the order.
KKR batter Nitish Rana, however, defended the management’s call and also took a dig at their critics, who have questioned KKR’s team selection.
“In our eyes we have got the best XI, probably the outsiders feel that we haven’t. We comfortably won without any big player (making an impact). If we win like this, any eleven is best,” Rana said in the post-match press conference after KKR’s 7-wicket win against RR on Monday.
Two of KKR’s changes – Anukul Roy and Shivam Mavi in place of Iyer and Harshit Rana – worked well for them as both Anukul and Shivam did well with the ball.
Rana, who remained unbeaten on 48, and stood like a rock, allowing the likes of Rinku Singh to attack from the other end, said he has been given a specific role of batting according the situation.
“A lot of things depend on factors like opponent team and what total we are chasing and what number I am batting. I have been playing IPL for seven-eight years now and trying to perform the anchor or main player.”I have been successful till date and hope that in the coming matches, I play such innings for the team,” Rana said.
“…the role which the team is giving me according to match situation, I am trying to bat like that. Today, I had to play the anchor’s role.
“I knew that if I was there at one end, then things would become easy for us with players like Rinku, Andre Russell, and Anukul (Roy) waiting in the wings. So we had depth in batting but my role was to play from one end so that we could easily chase the target,” he added.
Rana also heaped praise on young Rinku Singh, who played an unbeaten 42-run cameo of 23 balls.
He said his efforts to calm down a “hyper” Rinku yielded rich dividend for KKR.
“I am very happy for the way he (Rinku) batted as I know him for 5-6 years and he has worked a lot, scored in every domestic season. The way he was batting, I knew he would do something big for our team once he gets the chance,” said Rana.
“When he walked in to bat, I tried to calm him as I know he is a little-hyper and told him (if) we bat, we can finish the game in any over. I am very happy for him and hopefully he will continue batting the same way for KKR and himself,” he added.