Kolkata Knight Riders skipper Eoin Morgan attested that Shakib Al Hasan is a cricketer who can deliver when called upon, and stated that the all-rounder adds a new dynamic to the KKR unit. But despite endorsing Shakib, Morgan also reserved praise for Narine, who he claimed was a ‘go-to’ man.
After missing the 2020 edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL) due to an ICC-inflicted ban, Shakib Al Hasan went under the hammer ahead of the 2021 edition and was snapped up by his former side Kolkata Knight Riders, who purchased him for INR 3.23 crore. Shakib’s signing, even before the tournament’s schedule was announced, was described by many as the ‘steal of the season’ but with KKR set to play seven of their games in Chennai and Ahmedabad, experts have since opined that the Bangladesh all-rounder could turn out to be the most important player for the Knight Riders this season.
Ahead of the side’s first game of the season versus Sunrisers Hyderabad, the general, overarching sentiment was echoed by KKR skipper Eoin Morgan, who attested that Shakib adds a whole new dynamic to an already-strong Knight Riders side.
"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,” Morgan said, reported TOI.
"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.”
Fitting Shakib into the side would require KKR to drop arguably the greatest player in their history, Sunil Narine, but Morgan refused to throw the West Indies spinner under the bus. Morgan noted how Narine is a ‘big moment player’ who delivers under pressure and insisted that the mystery spinner, in terms of what he brings to the table, is no different from Shakib.
"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,” the KKR skipper said.
The Knight Riders finished fifth in IPL 2020 to finish outside the playoff spots for a second season running, but the management made quite a few reinforcements in the auction, purchasing the likes of Harbhajan Singh, Sheldon Jackson, Vaibhav Arora, Karun Nair, Venkatesh Iyer and Pawan Negi to add depth to the squad. Morgan expressed satisfaction over the auction KKR endured and insisted that the franchise has gone a long way in addressing the holes that were exposed in 2020.
"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.”
KKR will take on the David Warner-led Sunrisers Hyderabad at the M.A. Chidambaram Stadium on Sunday, April 11.