KKR faced a huge setback when Shreyas Iyer was ruled out of the initial part of IPL 2023 due to a recurring back issue. Nitish Rana was appointed as the stand-in skipper in his place
"It was an unfortunate injury for Shreyas Iyer. Especially because he is our main player and the injury happened right before the season. But, if we keep it aside, the team is looking good. The direction in which this team is headed will bring something good to all of us," said Rana ahead of the season.
Kolkata fans will now be looking at a new captain-coach pair with famed Chandrakant Pandit also joining the team as their head coach for the first time. Having had great success with domestic teams, the former India international will be facing different challenges while coaching the Knight Riders, with all eyes placed on him.
“After having coached on the domestic circuit, this will be a step up. We have international players coming in with a lot of reputation. Managing them will be a different challenge. I like challenges, so let’s see how it goes. But, the way we are preparing and building on our process, things will go in the right way,” Pandit said
"When we select players and give responsibility to players, we see who is capable. And Nitish is capable. He has been with KKR for a long time and also has a strong domestic record. Like they say, 'all boxes to be ticked' and it has come down to that. I am comfortable knowing he can handle the role. We don't see whether someone is deserving or not. Every player has different skills, and after thinking about what Nitish brings to the table, we are confident with the decision," he had to add on Rana.
Unlike other editions, the 2023 IPL brings about a new twist, in the form of the newly introduced Impact Player rule. Pandit said that the team is 'preparing for it' and will only make a decision on the match-day, considering the conditions.
“Obviously, we have been working on it. It will be interesting for the captain and coach to understand how to use it. We have been preparing for it, and we will decide who to use as our Impact Player on the match day. Everyone has their own style of looking at it. Based on the opposition, who you trust as your Impact Player differs," Pandit added.
While Nitish Rana has captained before at the domestic level, this would be his first time captaining a franchise. When asked about his captaincy philosophy, he preferred to keep his cards close to his chest. He added, “I’ve played under multiple captains, and everyone is different. I have my own style. Just wait for some time and you will also get to know about it.”
One of the biggest difference that Rana pointed out from the domestic level to the IPL was 'man-management', something he believes would make a massive difference.
"Man-management is important here," Rana pointed out. "This is a big competition so there are players who are seniors here. (Andre) Russell has played almost 450 matches, (Sunil) Narine, too, is in that range, so we have a very experienced group. With that much experience, there is nothing for me to fear. Chandrakant sir too (is present), so there are a lot of people at my disposal to turn to."
Apart from Shreyas Iyer, KKR will be missing Litton Das and Shakib Al Hasan for potentially a couple of games. On the gaps created by their absence, Pandit said, “There’s nothing about going on the backfoot. The player I want to play will play. Shreyas Iyer’s absence will make a lot of difference, and we hope that he will be back very soon. It will make a lot of difference to our team. Litton and Shakib might not be here, but I’ve been in constant touch with them for a month. Their absence won’t be a problem for us.”