IPL 11: Sunil Narine’s participation confirmed by KKR director Venky Mysore
Nokia was the principal sponsor of the Kolkata Knight Riders since the start of IPL in 2008 to 2014, after which Chinese smartphone maker Gionee took up the sponsorship until 2017. This year, however, HMD Global, which designs the Nokia phones, has partnered with KKR once again, and Nokia has returned as the team’s principal partner.
"Nokia brand and KKR have a history together and we are delighted to reunite the two again. KKR is amongst the most successful IPL franchisees and teams on the IPL circuit and like Nokia brand enjoys a pan India appeal," HMD Global Vice President and Country Head, India Ajey Mehta told reporters on the occasion of KKR’s jersey launch in Kolkata on Sunday.
The jersey for this year is not too different from last year, with the primary change being in the logo, i.e. Nokia replaces Gionee.
Apart from KKR’s managing director Venky Mysore and Jay Mehta, also present at the event was the entire squad for 2018, except for Chris Lynn and Sunil Narine, who were yet to arrive in India. Narine, who was banned from the Pakistan Super League for suspect bowling action, will be playing the entire IPL, confirmed Mysore.
“We’ve had some very good conversations with IPL. So, there’s absolutely no issue with Sunil. He starts off and it is business as usual, so no worries there,” Mysore revealed.
Captain Dinesh Karthik, who is husband to a squash champion participating in the upcoming Commonwealth Games, wished good luck to the Indian contingent at Gold Coast, while also talking about the big boots he will have to fill with former KKR captain Gautam Gambhir.
Speaking about his wife, the wicket-keeper batsman said, “She’s worked especially hard for this Commonwealth Games. Four years back, she won gold in Glasgow and you know, as a player, the most important thing is to be able to repeat it, you want to be consistent and she’s worked really hard in the last 4 years to get a gold again. She’s already in Gold Coast, as we speak right now, and a very important two weeks in her life right now.”
As the successor of Gambhir, who has been one of the most successful IPL captains, Karthik is aware of the expectations from him this season.
“What Gautam Gambhir has achieved for KKR is phenomenal. He's left a benchmark that every season they have qualified as a bare minimum," he said.
“And being a leader of the team, the management will expect the same from me. I'm aware of the expectations. Whether there would be pressure, 'yes'. As a captain, you're expected to at least go to the playoffs, that's the least anybody can expect. I think I'm at a stage where I can handle it and get the best out of the team," the Tamil Nadu cricketer added.
Meanwhile, it was also confirmed that Robin Uthappa will not be keeping wickets this year since a more experienced keeper in Karthik is on the team.
“He’s a Test keeper and I only keep in the domestic games. I think just that would answer your question (on who will keep wickets). I think DK will keep and I’ll go back to you know, dropping my hat to you guys after taking a catch,” Uthappa, who has been one of the most prolific batsmen for KKR, said.
Also present at the event was India’s spin sensation Kuldeep Yadav, who was reminiscent of his transformation from a fast-bowler to a spin-bowler.
“It was my coach who recognized my strength as a wrist-spinner and asked me to switch to spin from pace,” Kuldeep told when asked if, much like other pacers, his switch to spin bowling was due to lack of success in pace bowling.
Head coach of the Knights, Jacques Kallis, was asked questions on the recent ball-tampering saga between Australian and South Africa.
On being asked if the judgement passed on Steve Smith and David Warner had been too harsh, the 42-year-old said, “I think, there’s been a lot of media and a lot of talk of what has happened over the last few days, and it’s probably taken up too much of everyone’s time. So, I’m not going to add to that too much. I think it’s just been a wake-up call for everyone in International Cricket that we need to savour this game and look after it and make sure that we play it in the right spirit and in the right way.”
KKR’s star all-rounder Andre Russell divulged information about his upcoming music album with team co-owner and Bollywood star Shah Rukh Khan.
“I have a new single coming out with Shah Rukh Khan and have also planned some albums for the future. But at the end of the day, Cricket comes first and music is all about fun,” the swashbuckling batsman told.
The Knights play their first game of the season against Royal Challengers Bangalore on April 8 at their home ground Eden Gardens.