The focus may be on Gautam Gambhir in the upcoming clash between Kolkata Knight Riders and Delhi Daredevils at the Eden Gardens but the hosts' batting coach Simon Katich on Sunday insisted his team is not paying attention to off the field chatter. Having ended a seven-year fruitful association with Gambhir, KKR find Gambhir captaining Delhi Daredevils in tomorrow's mouth-watering IPL fixture.
"If you start playing the man rather than the ball, you know you are in trouble in this game. Things can change very quickly in this format. We need to be sure that mind stays positive," Katich said referring to Gambhir's presence in the opposition camp.
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"Yes, there will be emotions involved from I guess Gautam's point of view because he had a fantastic time here as captain and was very successful.
Gambhir is KKR's leading run scorer with 3345 runs from 122 matches between 2011-2017.
"Gautam knows our team inside out. Conversely, so do we. It promises to be a fantastic game. You can look at the game before and in this format, it can count for confidence but it all changes once the first ball is bowled," Katich said.
There will be intense pressure on KKR skipper Dinesh Karthik especially after they suffered a second loss on the trot going down to a superior Sunrisers Hyderabad by five wickets last night. Their lopsided batting and bowling combination drew a lot of criticism but Katich backed Karthik.
"He has been really good so far. Things haven't quite gone to plan. But in terms of how he settled in, he is getting around the group. From a performance point of view, he would have liked to get the team home a couple of times. The effort is there. His keeping has been excellent," Katich said.
KKR showed urgency in bringing in the Under-19 World Cup winning duo of Shivam Mavi and Shubman Gill but the duo was left unutilised.
While top order batsman Gill batted at No 7, Mavi was denied to bowl during the Powerplay and was introduced only in the 15th over when SRH were on course chasing 139.
"Had they not been backed by the team, they would have been sitting on the bench gave the amount of experience we have. As a young player, there will be times when you don't always get to bat at the position you are used to but that's all part of the journey of adapting as a batsman," he said of Gill.
"It is the same for the bowlers. They don't get to bowl at the time of the innings they want, because the team comes first. The captain has to decide who's going to bowl, who he thinks is the right option at that time and we do have a number of very experienced players in the team.
"We are not expecting them to go out there and play an innings like an Andre Russell, it is about giving them an opportunity. Hope the senior guys take a little bit of pressure off them in terms of the way they set the innings up particularly in Shubman's case," he said.
(With PTI Inputs)