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Kallis as strong as ever: Bayliss

Calcutta: Jacques Kallis might not be regarded as a game-changer in the shortest format, but for Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) coach Trevor Bayliss, the South African continues to be the rock of the side.

“Jacques is a great player and you write off players of their calibre at your own risk,” iplt20.com quoted Bayliss as saying. “When people think they are down and out, that’s when such players rise up to the occasion.

“He is still strong as ever with both bat and ball, and I would be surprised if he doesn’t do well in this tournament.”

The Knight Riders begin their IPL VII journey against defending champions Mumbai Indians, a tough beginning indeed. Bayliss, however, was confident about the KKR squad being balanced enough and having a number of options to take on Mumbai Indians’ might.

“We’re very happy with the squad that we have got. We have a number of quality options, depending on the opposition and the type of wicket we play on.

“All we need to think of is getting the combination right, and hopefully, the 11 guys we pick, will play well on the day,” Bayliss said.

The KKR top order, comprising captain Gautam Gambhir and Kallis, has been solid, but hasn’t been complemented very often by batsmen coming thereafter. Bayliss, though, feels the presence of Robin Uthappa and Manish Pandey should help the team address the issues.

Besides, he is confident of Yusuf Pathan regaining form when action gets underway. “We have Uthappa, Manish and also Shakib-al Hasan. Yusuf is still with us. He has been doing well in the Indian domestic circuit, and if he can continue his form, it will be a huge boost for us,” the coach said.

According to Bayliss, Yusuf’s power-hitting always makes him a useful bloke in the KKR ranks. “If there is one format where you can stick with someone who is not scoring as many runs as you would like, it’s T20.

“It also depends a lot on where the player is batting. If he bats at No.6 or 7, a 20-odd off eight or nine balls from him (Yusuf) would be just as useful as a 70-80 scored by a top-order batsman.

“Yusuf has often batted lower down the order and he has made those runs for us. His role in this team is that of a finisher, and on a number of occasions, he has performed it quite well.”