Dinesh Karthik steps down as KKR captain, Eoin Morgan takes over
Wicketkeeper-batsman Dinesh Karthik on Friday stepped down as captain of the Kolkata Knight Riders team, handing over the reins to his English deputy Eoin Morgan hours before the IPL match against Mumbai Indians here.
Karthik told the KKR management that he wants to "focus on his batting and contributing more to the team's cause." Appointed skipper in 2018, the 35-year-old led KKR in 37 matches.
"We are fortunate to have leaders such as DK, who has always put the team first. It takes a lot of courage for someone like him to take a decision such as this," team CEO Venky Mysore said in a statement.
"While we were surprised by his decision, we are respectful of his wishes."
Midway into the ongoing season, KKR find themselves at fourth place in the points table with four wins and three losses. Morgan was widely tipped to take over at some point from Karthik given the topsy-turvy run.
"...DK and Eoin have worked brilliantly together during this tournament and although Eoin takes over as captain, this is effectively a role swap and we expect that this transition will work in a seamless manner," Mysore said.
"On behalf of everyone at Kolkata Knight Riders, we thank DK for all his contributions as the captain over the past two and a half years and wish Eoin the very best going forward."
Even though Mysore termed Karthik's decision surprising, the move was always on the cards with a World Cup-winning captain in the mix.
The veteran Indian wicketkeeper-batsman's captaincy had come under intense criticism due to the team's erratic campaign so far.
If KKR has won four games so far, it could well have been half as they had two miraculous escapes against Chennai Super Kings and Kings XI Punjab, matches where it was more about opposition losing than KKR winning.
Insult to injury was mystery spinner Sunil Narine being reported again for a suspect action. He has not been included in the side ever since the umpires raised objection to his action.
Karthik's own batting has been pretty scratchy save the half-century against Kings XI Punjab which also got him the man-of-the match award.
Strategically, he hasn't been at his best like the match against Delhi Capitals at Sharjah where he promoted himself ahead of Morgan, who is a bigger match-winner currently and also nearly got the team home.
Also not playing a quality spinner like Kuldeep Yadav on a slow Sharjah track did raise a few question marks.
His backing of young pacers Shivam Mavi and Kamlesh Nagarkoti, two bowlers with same kind of variations, instead of a Prasidh Krishna, who was brilliant at the death agaimst KXIP, didn't speak too well of his flexibility in leadership approach.
In fact, during the last season where KKR missed the play-offs by a whisker, their Caribbean all-rounder Andre Russell had publicly criticised Karthik for sending him lower down the order with so much to do and very few deliveries left.
Russell hit an astounding 52 sixes in the last edition which went in vain.
This year, the West Indian was promoted up the order but hasn't been able to replicate his form from last season.
While batsman Karthik with all his experience will still be an automatic choice as a playing member, Morgan, with calmness and better match-reading qualities, may bring in the consistency that the Shah Rukh Khan-owned franchise so desperately needs.
The England captain, in a recent interview to news agency PTI, had said that "one doesn't need to be a captain in order to be a leader".
In fact, he normally stands at long-on and long-off and is seen constantly talking to the bowlers and helping them with field placements.
For Karthik, a major problem was constant comparisons with double IPL winning former skipper Gautam Gambhir, who was removed in 2018 after Karthik played that epic 8-ball-29 at the Nidahas Trophy.
The first season wasn't bad as he took the team to play-offs but the performance has tapered off since last season.