KPL 2017: Namma Shivamogga, Team Profile
Bengaluru, 25 August 2017: The most striking aspect when one glances through the Namma Shivamogga squad is the presence of Akhil Balachandra. The old warhorse turns 40 this October, and is one of the oldest players in the Karbonn Smartphones Karnataka Premier League (KPL) 2017, powered by Cycle Pure Agarbathies.
The rest of the team is made up of an array of players ranging from young rookies to experienced pros, all capable of match-winning knocks and spells on their day. Balachandra’s role will be to guide them. Shivamogga are yet to win the KPL trophy, but if this side can hit the ground running, there is nothing stopping them.
There is one thing though that is conspicuous by its absence in the Shivamogga squad – the absence of a known national name. Instead, the likes of Anirudh Joshi, Pradeep T and Abrar Kazi offer solidity and dependability, each with proven feats in the tournament before. In R Jonathan, for whom Shivamogga opened their purse strings to the extent of Rs 5.1 lakh, they have someone who can hit big and get quick runs. The squad is further bolstered by the likes of Mohammed Sarfraz Ashraf (Rs 1.9 lakh), Shoaib Manager (Rs 1.1 lakh), GS Chiranjeevi (Rs 1.5 lakh) and Nihal Ullal (Rs 1.1 lakh), making for a real solid-looking outfit.
Balachandra, the senior statesman of the whole unit, believed the team’s strength lay in the number of match-winners they possessed. In fact, he said what the rest of the team would have to do was to lay the foundation for these players to go on and win them matches. “Our team has a lot of match-winners, people who can single-handedly win tough games for us,” Balachandra said. “But then, cricket is not played like that. It’s a team game, and everybody has to contribute. But as Team Shivamogga, we’ve an advantage because we’ve plenty of people who are match-winners – it’s a matter of all of us coming together and pushing these match-winners to the front, so that they can win matches for us.”
It seems like a sound playing philosophy. But to do that, they need an experienced hand to pull the strings and guide the team. This is where Balachandra comes in. While T20s are generally regarded as a young man’s sport – there have been a fair few exceptions to this school of thought – Balachandra is drawn to it because he is “passionate about the sport”. One of his main roles in this side will be to ensure the younger lot go about things the right way, react to situations in the right manner. And unlike a coach, he can be out with them on the field while guiding them.
In that respect, Shivamogga’s decision to spend Rs 2.4 lakh on him at the auction might prove a bargain. “As far as experience is concerned, there is no substitute for it,” says Balachandra. “Whatever experience I’ve got, it makes sense only if you share it with the youngsters. It’s all the more advantageous for them because I’m on the field sharing it with them. Staying outside the field and sharing it, and telling them what to do and what not to do, it’s much less effective. It’s always better to be out there and set an example for them. It makes a big difference.”
He raises a fine point. Shivamogga have their plans in place, their playing philosophy well ingrained. If they can put them into action come September, there can be no stopping them.
Squad (from): Akhil Balachandra, Anirudh Joshi, Abrar Kazi, Pradeep T, Mohammed Sarfraz Ashraf, Vinoo Prasad, Amey Shanbag, R Jonathan, Liyan Khan, Abdul Majid, Saksham Kaul, Shoaib Manager, GS Chiranjeevi, Sadiq Kirmani, Nihal Ullal, Lavish Kaushal, Aditya Somanna, Mashooq Hussain.
Head coaches – Nidhuvan, KM Aiyappa
Assistant coach – Vinay Kumar
Physiotherapist – Gautam
Trainer – Kiran
Video Analyst – Kiran
Manager – Jayant Gowda
Team Owner – R Kumar