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Shakib adds different dynamics to the team: Eoin Morgan

We are in for a thrilling encounter this Sunday, April 11, as the Kolkata Knight Riders lock horns with the Sunrisers Hyderabad in their opening encounter of the Indian Premier League 2021.

Champions in 2012 and 2014, the boys in Purple and Gold will be gunning for their third title as they gear up for the upcoming edition of the tournament.

A day prior to the all-important clash, Eoin Morgan speaks on the upcoming season and sits down for a special conversation.

Excerpts:

On the new additions to the KKR set up

I am really looking forward to this season. I think considering the possible holes we had in our squad last year, we had a very good auction this year, made some good recruitment decisions, and managed to get people on board with a small budget, giving us a lot more depth around the squad.

 

On the reason behind picking up Shakib Al Hasan

Given that we have a bit more travel this year and we go from venue to venue, it's important to have strength and depth in the squad. Shakib Al Hasan gives us a different dynamic in the team. Given that we play at different venues where the conditions change quite a lot, you have a spin bowling all-rounder who had success in international cricket and IPL at different stages. If called upon, he can definitely deliver.

On the younger players in the squad, especially Prasidh Krishna and Shubman Gill, graduating to play for India

If you go back to the last major auction, Venky recognised that the future is in the younger talent, and there is a sense of inevitability about these guys playing for India at some stage. If you look at Prasidh and Gill so far, they want to build on that confidence. Particularly Gill, coming on the back of winning an away Test match series in Australia is a huge achievement early in your career. And, to have him in your squad on the back of that win is fantastic.

On the role of Dinesh Karthik in the KKR set up

DK offers a lot with the bat and behind the stumps. He has been in fine form, and he is always one of those players who if you watch him train and particularly bat, he times the ball beautifully and hits the ball further than most of the guys. He offers a huge amount of support to me on the pitch and off the field as well. Very grateful that he is in good form and in our team.

On the role of Sunil Narine and his experience of performing in pressure situations

The IPL is such a competitive tournament with the smallest of margins that can make a big difference, particularly in the playoff stages. For me, when I was a young kid coming through as a professional and looking to guys who had either won things or had a different attitude regardless of the situation of the game, they would always have a positive body language, or they would always be doing something to affect the game. Shakib and Sunil are no different.

In big moments of the game, particularly last year, you would throw Sunil the ball or you would get him in with the bat because he has been in that situation over and over again; he believes in himself and in the team to go and get through and win that situation.

 

On not playing in front of the fans and at the Eden Gardens

I think every team misses their fans. For us, Eden is such a special place. It is not only renowned around the world but also in Indian cricket holds a massive place in people's hearts.

 

Thoughts on the IPL returning to India and the upcoming season for KKR

The difference in the tournament last year and this year is we are going to be in India. It is the Indian Premier League, and that's what we want to happen, providing safety is never compromised. It's a huge positive and is an absolute honour to be back on the Indian shores. And given that we have an exciting  young squad and a tremendous amount of potential, it does make it even more exciting.