Was it a Freudian slip? Kolkata Knight Riders captain Shreyas Iyer’s comment at the post-match presentation, after his team beat Mumbai Indians, was enough to raise eyebrows. “CEO is also involved in team selection,” Shreyas said.
KKR beat a listless Mumbai Indians by 52 runs on Monday to keep their playoffs hopes alive marginally. It was a win-or-bust game and the two-time IPL champions made five changes to their playing eleven. Change is the only constant for KKR in an underwhelming season so far and even after the win against MI, they are seventh in the table, with 10 points from 12 games. KKR have used five different opening combinations in 12 games, at the expense of stability.
When Pat Cummins was creating havoc with a triple strike, Ravi Shastri let rip. “Shukar hai Pat Cummins ko khilaya hai. Patha nahi kya kar raha tha bench garam kar ke. Australia captain hai, world class bowler hai aur bithaaya gaya usko! (Thankfully they have played Cummins. Wonder what he was doing warming the bench. He is the Australia captain, a world class bowler and they still benched him!)” Shastri remarked. Cummins had been benched after KKR’s match against Rajasthan Royals on April 18.
The KKR skipper was asked about the constant chopping and changing and he said: “It’s really difficult. I was also in that position once when I started playing IPL. We discuss with the coaches, CEO is also involved in team selection. Baz (head coach Brendon McCullum) goes to the players and tells them if they are not playing. All of them are very supportive of the decision-making. The way they turn up to the ground, each and every individual in the playing eleven, it’s something to be proud of as a captain.”
It begs the question; where does the power centre lie? Does Shreyas have the leeway to be his own man? Do the coaching staff have the required freedom? Team selection is purely a cricketing matter and if a non-cricketing person wades in, doesn’t it undermine the captain and coach’s authority?
Shreyas, though, was happy with the convincing win. “The way we played with high spirits and a good vibe, I’m proud of it. The win was comprehensive. The players were charged up to win the game. The previous games have not been great for us. It plays on your mind when you are on the losing side. I’m not satisfied but I want to keep up with the same momentum to come back strong in the other games.”