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IPL Staff in Abu Dhabi 15 April 2014 - 05:19pm IST

Write Kallis off at your own peril: Bayliss

KKR coach counts on his most experienced player to click; backs Yusuf Pathan

The Kolkata Knight Riders will begin their Pepsi IPL 2014 journey with a tough challenge against the defending champions, Mumbai Indians. On the eve of the match, KKR coach, Trevor Bayliss, discussed his key players and expressed pleasure at the number of options the management has to pick from, thanks to their well-balanced squad.

“We’re very happy with the squad that we have got. We have a number of different quality options depending on the opposition and the type of wicket we play on. All we need to think of is getting the combination right, and hopefully, the 11 guys we pick, play well on the day,” Bayliss said.

While KKR have always had a solid top order, manned by the likes of Gautam Gambhir and Jacques Kallis, their middle order has looked brittle in comparison. Bayliss said that the presence of a couple of new Indian recruits and familiar big hitters will solve that problem.

“We have Robin Uthappa, Manish Pandey and also Shakib (Al Hasan). Yusuf Pathan is still with us. He has been doing well in the Indian domestic circuit, and if he can continue his form, it will be a huge boost for us,” the coach said.

When asked how difficult it is for the team management to keep backing a player like Yusuf, whose hot and cold form makes him a huge gamble, Bayliss said that his power-striking makes him a good bet to take in the lower order.

“If there is one format of the game where you can stick with someone who is not scoring as many runs as you’d like, it’s T20. It also depends a lot on where the player is batting. If he bats at No.6 or 7, 20 off eight or nine balls from him would be just as useful as the 70-80 scored by a top-order batsman.

“Yusuf has often batted lower in the order and he has made those runs for us. His role in this team is that of a finisher, and on a number of occasions, he has performed it quite well.”

Analysing the team’s skipper, Gautam Gambhir, Bayliss said, “As aggressive and intense as he is on the field, he is a very quiet personality off it. There are many great players who are extremely quiet by nature, but they step on to the field and go in the competition mode.

“He is a captain that leads by example. He doesn’t take a backward step and stands up for all his players. That gives the rest of the players the confidence that their captain is backing them, and it becomes easy for them to give their best,” Bayliss said.

When questions were raised over Jacques Kallis’ recent form and subsequent retirement from international cricket, Bayliss said that he can say without doubt that Kallis is still KKR’s rock.

“Jacques is a great player and you write players like them off at your own risk. When people think they are down and out, that’s when such players rise up to the occasion. He is still as strong as ever with the bat and ball, and I’d be surprised if he doesn’t do well in this tournament.”

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