IPL 2021: Will be disappointing if KKR lose key overseas players during UAE leg, says Brendon McCullum

Former New Zealand captain and Kolkata Knight Riders head coach Brendon McCullum shed light on the impact of the potential absence of a few overseas players when the Indian Premier League (IPL) resumes in the UAE later this year. McCullum said KKR squad has been built around some senior overseas players and if they don’t turn up for the remainder of the season, it will be a difficult problem to overcome.

IPL 2021 was suspended on May 4 due to positive Covid-19 cases in the bio-bubbles of multiple franchises. However, the BCCI confirmed over the weekend that the remainder of the 14th season will be held in the UAE in September-October. As many as 31 matches are set to be played in the UAE with the tournament expected to resume just before the T20 World Cup.

While the Indian cricket board is keen to go ahead with the remainder of the tournament, it remains to be seen if overseas players will be available, given the packed international calendar. England and Wales Cricket Board director Ashley Giles has already said the board is unlikely to tweak its home season in order to release players for the UAE leg. Cricket Australia is yet to have a discussion with its players who came out of quarantine only on Monday.

KKR have several key overseas stars, including captain Eoin Morgan and fast bowler Pat Cummins. McCullum believes the overseas duo are trained to soak in pressure and their absence will be difficult to overcome. However, he said someone of the likes of Shubman Gill or Nitish Rana can step up and play beyond their age to make up for the overseas players absence, if they don’t turn up in the UAE.

“If we are to lose some of those guys because that would be really disappointing. Structurally we had set it up to rely on those people. Some of those personalities, which we had picked, I knew if we were under pressure they would still be ready for the long haul and still remain very calm during those key times,” McCullum told Sports Today.

“I think of Pat Cummins and Eoin Morgan, really calm and cool customers. If we were to lose them, then we have to find guys to step up into those roles, that’s exciting and a good opportunity for some other guys.

“That might be some of the Indian boys and they might not be ready for such kind of responsibility just yet. That brings an opportunity, that gives a chance to someone like Shubman Gill or Nitish Rana to play beyond their years and grab the opportunity and drag the young Indian boys along. I am excited about what lies ahead and it’s not going to be easy,” he added.

KKR were underperforming, I agree: McCullum

KKR were at the second-last spot with just 2 wins from 7 matches before IPL 2021 was suspended. McCullum conceded that KKR did not play to their potential earlier this year but said he was confident of turning it around for the former champions.

“We had a group of men whom we picked for this season and the 2021 season and we got halfway through that. Most of them said we were underperforming because we only won 2 of our first 7 games. To a degree, I do agree points-wise and performance-wise.

“But I do feel we were really confident to put the pressure back on on the rest of the sides because we had learned a little bit about ourselves and we were starting to break some shackles of our insecurities and try to play a style of cricket that would make us a dangerous proposition,” he said.

India Today

India Today is a weekly Indian English-language news magazine published by Living Media India Limited. It is the most widely circulated magazine in India, with a readership of close to 8 million. In 2014, India Today launched a new online opinion-orientated site called the DailyO.

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