Premier all-rounder Shakib Al Hasan has expressed confidence that the Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) could go all the way in IPL 2021, and deliver the expectant results that were amiss in the previous two seasons.
KKR last made the playoffs in Dinesh Karthik’s first year with the franchise, in 2018, following which they consecutively finished fifth. Shakib, however, sounded optimistic that the two-time IPL champions would produce a better show this year.
“From outside, you can see it in different ways. This team has grown in the last two years. This is the year I think KKR will be able to deliver the performance that fans have been asking for. I’m very much optimistic, KKR will get the result,” Shakib Al Hasan told PTI.
The Kolkata-based side fell agonisingly short of a playoffs berth last year as both the third and fourth-placed teams finished with the same number of points, albeit with a superior NRR (net run-rate).
Notably, KKR have boosted their spin department ahead of IPL 2021 by signing Harbhajan Singh to partner the likes of Sunil Narine, Kuldeep Yadav, Varun Chakravarthy and Shakib himself. The former Bangladesh captain, who was bought for INR 3.2 crore at the February 18 auction, spoke highly of the team’s bowling department.
“We’ve got a very good spin department, having said that we have got a great pace bowling line-up too. All in all, we have got a very good bowling line-up,” Shakib Al Hasan added.
KKR’s pace battery comprises of a perfect blend of youth and experience. Young guns like Kamlesh Nagarkoti, Shivam Mavi, Prasidh Krishna and Sandeep Warrier have Pat Cummins, Lockie Ferguson and Andre Russell to look up to.
“I need one good game to get it going” – Shakib Al Hasan
While the last year and half was tough for almost everybody, Shakib Al Hasan had to undergo a few more degrees of struggle. After facing a two-year ban – one year was later suspended – for failing to report corrupt charges, Shakib had to miss IPL 2020 and international cricket for a year.
Shakib represented his domestic side Khulna in the Bangabandhu T20 Cup after completing his ban in October last year. He, however, stated that he would need just one good game in the forthcoming IPL season to rediscover his mojo. He further added that he is willing to play any role for KKR, even opening the batting.
“I’m open to anything to be honest...I’m very much confident, it’s just that I need one good game to get it going. If I can start well, I think I can do well for the team,” Shakib Al Hasan exclaimed.
He last played the 2019 edition of the IPL in which he scored just 9 runs and scalped 3 wickets in three matches for the Sunrisers Hyderabad. There doesn’t seem to be any change this year in terms of opportunities, as he, along with Ben Cutting, have been picked as back-up all-rounders. Even Shakib himself is aware of that and spoke of the need to stay in a positive frame of mind.
“There are 8-10 overseas players in each team and only four can play. You cannot blame the team selection. You have to keep an open mind, keep training hard and need to make sure whenever you get a chance, you grab the opportunity with both hands,” Shakib Al Hasan explained.
The Kolkata Knight Riders play their first match against the Sunrisers Hyderabad – Shakib’s former franchise – in Chennai on April 11.