The Kolkata Knight Riders started off their Pepsi IPL campaign with a bang. They trounced the Mumbai Indians by 41 runs in their tournament opener and looked to be in good spirits at the practice session ahead of their next game, against the Delhi Daredevils. A few players shared a laugh in intervals even as the rest sweated it out at the nets while going through the regular drills.
“The positive about this team is that everyone enjoys each others’ company and wants every team member to do well. There are no sulkers in the team, which is great," the bowling coach and team mentor of the Knight Riders said.
Akram was also proud of his bowling resources that had put up a great show against the Mumbai Indians. Sunil Narine, as usual, weaved his magic by picking up four wickets, while the rest of the spinners complemented him. Morne Morkel bowled with a lot of pace and he was ably backed by Vinay Kumar. Now, KKR do seem to have a potent bowling attack.
“I am proud of the bowling attack and my job is much easier. Every bowler in this squad is different,” Akram said. “We have Vinay Kumar who varies his pace. We have Morne Morkel who bowls 150-plus kph and is unplayable. People like Sunil Narine and Piyush Chawla are quality bowlers. We have variety in our bowling and by variety I mean wicket-taking bowlers. In T20 what matters is wickets. You take wickets, you can block the opposition and that is what we did when Mumbai Indians were chasing in the first game.”
Akram also had some special praise for all-rounder Piyush Chawla. “Piyush Chawla is just 25-years old but bowls like a very experienced campaigner. It is his seventh IPL and he has played for Kings XI Punjab in the past. He got a lot of wickets at Mohali, which is a flat deck. Imagine if he gets a turner, he will be unplayable. He is also a handy bat and is someone who has five first-class hundreds.”
With such a talented bowling line-up, Akram’s job in the team becomes relatively simple. “My role is to talk to them a lot more and clear the questions they have as bowlers as to how to pick weaknesses of other batsmen.” Akram said.
Akram also believes that the KKR batting line-up looked much stronger with the influx of Manish Pandey and Robin Uthappa in the squad. “Yes, we look a lot stronger. Imagine Yusuf Pathan, Shakib Al Hasan or Suryakumar Yadav coming in at No.7. That shows the depth in our batting line-up. “
KKR will now meet the Daredevils, who suffered an eight-wicket loss in their first game, against the Royal Challengers Bangalore. But Akram reiterated that the side was not going to take their opposition lightly.
“In T20 every side is dangerous. They have just had one bad game and we are not going to take any opposition lightly. Every team is here to win and although we have played only one game, we have plenty to go.”