KKR coach Brendon McCullum has confirmed that Ali Khan, who the franchise roped in as replacement for the injured Harry Gurney, will get his chance later on in the tournament. In the case of him making his debut, Khan will become the first cricketer from the USA to play in the IPL.
Days after starring in the final and helping his side Trinbago Knight Riders (TKR) lift the Caribbean Premier League title, Ali Khan received the biggest news of his life, that he was snapped up by an IPL franchise. With Harry Gurney ruled out of the tournament due to injury, KKR needed to find an able replacement, and, for that, they went the Ali Khan-way, owing to the speedster having already worked with head coach Brendon McCullum.
This familiarity, it seems, might now come to aid of the pacer, as McCullum, in a press conference ahead of KKR’s tournament opener versus Mumbai Indians, confirmed that Khan will be given his chance later in the tournament. Should Khan make his debut, he will become the first cricketer from the United States to play in the IPL.
"First and foremost, it's great to have Ali Khan in the KKR setup, he is the first United States player to feature in the IPL, he has been successful at Trinbago Knight Riders. He deserves an opportunity to present himself in the IPL, I guess his opportunity will come deeper in this year's IPL,” McCullum said in a virtual press conference, reported TOI.
The Pakistan-born pacer's chances in the tournament might be few and far between, but one man who is bound to play all games for the franchise is their MVP Andre Russell, who broke new grounds as a batsman in IPL 2019. Russell was, incidentally, also KKR’s highest-wicket taker in the IPL 2019 season but given his history of injuries, McCullum revealed that skipper Dinesh Karthik will take a call on the workload management of the Jamaican.
"Dinesh Karthik will make this decision (workload management) in the middle, we know about Russell's batting ability, we all know what he can do with the bat, his ability to bowl at crunch situations gives us further options, the captain and vice-captain will make this decision of how to use him during the match," McCullum said on the management of Russell.
Ahead of KKR’s season-opener versus MI on Wednesday, all eyes will be on Australian Pat Cummins, who was purchased for a record fee of Rs 15.50 crore in the auction. There have been questions raised about the skillset of the pacer, but the KKR coach made it clear that he would love to see his side’s talisman bowl a Test match line and length. McCullum also lauded the leadership qualities Cummins brings to the side.
"First and foremost, the conditions are similar to Eden Gardens, pitches in the UAE have not been utilised for the past few months, Cummins is the number one bowler in Test cricket so I wish he bowls at the same length he does in Test matches, he is a strong leader and he has been a part of KKR before.”
Earlier today, KKR owner Venky Mysore confirmed that all their English and Australian players will be available for the Mumbai Indians clash after successfully completing their quarantine.