Tuesday, May 21, 2024

‘Shreyas Iyer is…’: Nitish Rana gives major update on KKR captain’s fitness | Cricket News – Times of India

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KOLKATA: Nitish Rana was literally lifted into the Kolkata Knight Riders hot seat last year after it became evident that first-choice skipper Shreyas Iyer would not be available for the season.
Iyer is back, but doubts over his fitness remain and Rana might be required to lead KKR again, at least in a few matches. The left-hand batter hopes that does not happen, but is ready to step into the big shoes again, if required.
As KKR prep-up for their first match at Eden Gardens against Sunrisers Hyderabad, Rana speaks to TOI about the team’s chances, impact Mitchell Starc will have and his personal ambitions.
Excerpts:
KKR did not perform too well under your captaincy last year. This time, you might have to lead the team again in some matches. Are you ready?
Shreyas is back with the team and is quite fit. Of course he had fitness issues in the past and we cannot take anything for granted. I hope I do not have to take up this responsibility again, as we are hoping Shreyas leads in all the matches. Having said that, if a situation arises where I have to wear the captain’s band again, I am ready for it. I was made the captain last year and that was the biggest thing for me. Although we did not achieve everything we wanted, yet it was the greatest experience for me.
After the disappointments of last year, how’s the mood in the team now?
This time, our team is very positive and you can feel it in the dressing room. There is a determination to win, which wasn’t so strong last year. Everyone is thinking about the trophy.

KKR have spent a fortune on Mitchell Starc. Won’t the price tag (Rs24.75 crore) play on his mind?
Starc is too experienced to let the price tag affect him. We had been missing a death bowler and he has filled up that spot. He knows what needs to be done. In fact, I feel he will be one of our main performers this time. Of course, in T20 cricket, every bowler goes into a match knowing that he might go for runs and Starc is prepared.
Starc won’t have much support as KKR’s other pacers are quite inexperienced. We have three spinners and want them to control the game. That doesn’t mean we have not paid attention to the pace department. Last year all our three young pacers (Chetan Sakariya, Vaibhav Arora and Harshit Rana) did well in bits and pieces and we expect them to do the same this time. This is a chance for them to learn from Starc.

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But, in a league where winning every match matters, will they get the space to learn from Starc?
Experience of course matters, but you need to have the courage, particularly the fast bowlers. If you are afraid of getting hit, then this league is not for you. We have been telling them not to be afraid of getting hit. They have to back their skills, even if a renowned batter is facing them. I can guarantee that these three bowlers will make KKR successful this time.
Is the upcoming World T20 somewhere in the back of your mind?
Everyone wants to play for the country and many players will have it in the back of their mind, but we have to stay in the present. I too want to get selected for the World T20 squad, but at this moment I am thinking only about the IPL. I believe I can get 600 runs in this tournament and I will be aiming for that.

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