Chris Lynn, Sunil Narine and Andre Russell – Kolkata Knight Riders’ big three overseas players – will all be available to play in their season opener against Royal Challengers Bangalore, according to team CEO Venky Mysore.
There were questions over the availability of Russell (who reached Kolkata last month) and Lynn, after both players pulled out of the PSL with hamstring and shoulder injuries respectively, but Mysore was confident that the two T20 stars, together with Narine and Mitchell Johnson, would feature at the Eden Gardens when Knight Riders’ campaign starts.
“Lynn’s fine, Johnson’s fine – they’re all on a plane as we speak,” Mysore said at a press conference in Kolkata on Tuesday. “Tomorrow, we’ll have a practice game. If the physio feels they’re fit to play the practice match after the flight, then you’ll see them in action. Lynn’s available for the first match.”
Knight Riders lost the services of Mitchell Starc, their $1.47m buy at the auction, who picked up a shin injury in South Africa, the outcome of which was Johnson becoming the team’s frontline pacer. Despite his age, Mysore backed the 36-year-old to deliver for Knight Riders in the tournament’s early stages.
“With every adversity comes an opportunity and it could be one of the youngsters who shine this season,” Mysore said. “So, yes, we are disappointed but we’re not going ‘Oh my God, what happened.’
“Johnson’s played a lot at the IPL and won two championships [with Mumbai Indians]. He’s an outstanding bowler – you saw how he bowled at the Big Bash. He’s still fit, still bowling 145+ and is an experienced campaigner. So, at least in the initial stage we won’t miss Starc, but we’re looking at replacements. Give us 24 hours.”
Knight Riders, however, are not a big-name team, or so Mysore believes. He said staying low-key before the IPL’s start was beneficial to the team and that the other squad members, on whom the spotlight hasn’t shone much, also possess the desire and talent to do well for the side.
“Yes, we talk about [Shivam] Mavi, [Kamlesh] Nagarkoti and [Shubman] Gill, but don’t forget Apoorv Wankhade, Rinku Singh, Nitish Rana and Ishank Jaggi,” Mysore said. “Jaggi’s a highly under-rated player and had an excellent season for Jharkhand. It’s good that we’re under the radar. People are saying, ‘where are the names, where are the names?’ You don’t need names here, you need people who are hungry to do well.”
Knight Riders’ season opener is at home, against Virat Kohli’s Royal Challengers Bangalore, on April 8.