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KKR strategy shocks Manoj

Calcutta: The Kolkata Knight Riders didn’t seem too keen to get the Bengal players on their roster at the IPL auction, in Bangalore, on Wednesday. As a result, Laxmi Ratan Shukla, Manoj Tiwary, Wriddhiman Saha, Ashok Dinda and Mohammed Shami were taken up by other franchises.

While KKR’s bids for Mohammed Shami and Laxmi Ratan Shukla were unsuccessful, they did not even show interest for Manoj, Saha and Ashok Dinda.

It is this strategy that has surprised Manoj, who fetched a price of Rs 2.80 crore in the auction and will play for Delhi DareDevils for the next three seasons.

Manoj, who represented KKR in the last four editions , said he would miss playing in front of his home crowd at the Eden.

“I was very surprised to see the strategy of the KKR officials at the auction table… It seemed they were not at all keen on retaining me or Laxmi or buying any other Bengal player. I am very sorry to say that the approach of KKR officials has left me shocked,” Manoj told The Telegraph.

“I feel sorry for the cricket lovers of Bengal. We have such passionate supporters here. And the crowd obviously would want some home-grown talents in their beloved side. But the KKR officials have robbed them of the chance to cheer for Bengal players,” he added.

“The reverse is also true… I know how much the Bengal players love to perform in front of the crowds at the Eden. We will miss playing at the Eden. We will miss the atmosphere,” Manoj said.

Laxmi, on the other hand, wished luck to KKR. “Yeah, I’m a bit disappointed that none from Bengal was bought by KKR today. But then, I wish them all the best. Hopefully, they will do well in the coming seasons,” said Laxmi, who was bought by the DareDevils for Rs 1.50 crore.

“Delhi have shown immense faith in me. It is my duty now to repay their faith. We all know Delhi haven’t performed well last season. But past is past… All I want to say is watch out for this team. We are well-equipped in every department,” he added.

Dinda, however, sounded pleased that he will play for the Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB). “I don’t want to think much about why KKR didn’t go for me. I’m proud that I am a member of the RCB. I’ve always wanted to play for them. Last season, Siddharth Mallya had told me that he wanted me in his team. Since then, I was harbouring hopes of playing for the RCB. After the auction, Siddharth texted me whether I’m happy or not… I told him yes,” said Dinda.

RCB bought Dinda for Rs 1.50 crore, a hike of Rs 50 lakh from his base price. The pacer, however, expected more. “Money-wise, I am a bit unhappy… I was expecting a bit more. However, that RCB picked me up made up for my dissatisfaction. It is a fantastic team, if not the best. I believe there will be good camaraderie in the side… I feel other teams will be under pressure when they face us.”

Manoj didn’t have any such qualms about money. Instead, he was pleased to return to his first team in the IPL, where he played in the first two editions. The right-handed batsman is also delighted that he would be training under former India coach Gary Kirsten, head coach at the DareDevils.

“Training under Kirsten is one of the biggest plus points… I have heard a lot of positive things about him. He creates a great atmosphere within the team and treats everyone equally. Unfortunately, I could never ever feature in the Indian team when he was the coach. So it will be an opportunity for me to improve my game under him. Also, that I will have Kevin Pietersen as my teammate excites me. I’m a big fan of him. He always tries to dominate the bowlers and I love that approach,” said Manoj.