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Some good out of losses: John
- Kolkata Knight Riders defeated in both warm-up matches Sourav Ganguly to captain and open today
John Buchanan

Calcutta: John Buchanan’s multiple leaders’ concept got off to an inauspicious start on Tuesday, when the Kolkata Knight Riders lost both warm-up matches in Bloemfontein.

The IPL franchise’s cricket manager, however, didn’t sound too disappointed. The Knights lost while chasing and after setting a target.

“We didn’t have as good a day as we would’ve liked, but some good still came out of the two games (against Free State)… You’ve got to remember that we played T20 after a long time,” Buchanan told The Telegraph on returning to the team hotel.

Buchanan, in fact, felt that both nominated captains — Bengal’s Laxmi Ratan Shukla (first match) and Delhi’s Aakash Chopra (second game) — were “pretty good.” As was wicket-keeper Morne van Wyk, who helped set the fields.

“Look, these are early days and today was the first time that I put the concept into practice… There are gaps to be filled and we need to continue exploring ways and means to fill those gaps… We need to know what’s best for us and who all respond the best… I haven’t got everybody’s feedback, but I didn’t sense a communication gap out in the middle,” Buchanan maintained.

The Knight Riders’ next warm-up match is on Wednesday, against the same opposition, and Sourav Ganguly will be the nominated captain.

Sourav, who reached on Monday evening, would also open with Van Wyk. Chopra is going to be rested.

According to Buchanan, there could be two other changes, with Mashrafe Mortaza replacing Ashok Dinda and Arindam Ghosh taking Sunny Singh’s place.

“The XI hasn’t been finalised, but I suppose we’ll be making three changes… Once that game is over, we’ll work on scenarios in the afternoon,” Buchanan pointed out.

Looking back on the warm-up matches, Buchanan said: “ (Cheteshwar) Pujara batted well in the second game, while Shoaib Sheikh did well in both… Among bowlers, Charl Langeveldt had good spells and (Ajit) Agarkar got better… In fielding, though, we lacked a bit of energy and, because the matches were back-to-back, the players got tired… One isn’t making excuses, but altitude affects one’s endurance-level…”

Bloemfontein is 1,395 metres above sea level. Calcutta, for example, is at an elevation of just nine metres.

Dinda didn’t have a great day, but that could’ve been because it was his delivery (during Monday’s nets) which struck Wriddhiman Saha on his left thumb.

The ’keeper, who underwent surgery, may recover in two-three weeks. For now, the team management can only keep fingers crossed.

Saha, incidentally, was at the OUTsurance Oval for some time, with his left arm in a sling, watching teammates get an actual feel of conditions in South Africa.

Footnote: Australia’s Brad Hodge is expected on Wednesday, followed by the Sri Lankans (including Ajantha Mendis) and Brendon McCullum. Chris Gayle and Ishant Sharma will follow.

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