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19 Sep 2020 | 07:01 PM
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Shubman will bat at the top throughout the IPL: KKR coach McCullum
The rising top-order batsman was tried out at different positions last season without the desired result and it was considered to be one of the reasons why KKR missed out on a play-off berth

Kolkata Knight Riders head coach Brendon McCullum made it clear that Shubman Gill will open for them throughout the IPL to give the team some solidity at the top in tricky UAE conditions.

The rising top-order batsman was tried out at different positions last season without the desired result and it was considered to be one of the reasons why KKR missed out on a play-off berth.

"They're (wickets) gonna be quite fresh, I think they could be quite helpful for seam bowling. If the wickets are going to be a little bit tricky early on against fast bowling, I think you want your players who have the best techniques and the best batsmanship and craft," said McCullum.

"... he's (Shubman) certainly one of those guys... I see him batting at the top of the order throughout the campaign," added the newly-appointed KKR coach in a media interaction.

Impressed with the way, the 21-year-old Shubman carries himself, the Kiwi great said he wants to give the Indian youngster his own space and groom the other junior members in the team.

"I think he's got a bit of a presence about him, even at this young age, very respectful as well. I know DK (captain Dinesh Karthik) really respects him as a person as a cricket brain as well. And I think he's going to be another wonderful resource for DK both on and off the field," McCullum said.

"I want to see the most out of him is just to grow on his own time, his own space but also take those around him, who are still reasonably inexperienced and grow at the same rate that he's growing in his own career.

"If we can do that, then the experience we can get into these guys at a young age, and pressure moments is going to be a very, very good thing for KKR this season. He's got a very big role."

KKR started off well winning four of their first five matches, but they lost six matches on the trot in the business end to miss the qualifiers by a whisker.

The team looked really dependent on Andre Russell, but this time reigning World Cup winning captain Eoin Morgan will lend solidity in the middle-order.

Hailing the Englishman as the best middle-over batsman in limited overs cricket, McCullum said: "He's probably the best middle-order batsman in the shorter version, over the last couple of years. So we're very lucky to have him. His relationship with DK throughout this campaign will give us a good opportunity."

The England limited-overs skipper, who had a stint with KKR from 2011-2013, was bought at the auction for INR 5.25 crore.

The 34-year-old Morgan will be joining the side after leading England to their maiden World Cup glory in 2019.

"If you look at his career, the last four years in particular, he's completely changed how the whole country plays cricket. He's got the ultimate success of winning the World Cup. I think now he's completely free and an incredibly dangerous player," McCullum said.

"He was a guy who we were desperate to get batting (at the auction) in the middle order around Russell and Karthik... He provides us with a really, really strong middle-order."

KKR chief mentor David Hussey had earlier said Russell is best suited at No 3 but McCullum was of the opinion that the star Jamaican is an ideal finisher in the T20 format and the team will have a 'horses-for-courses' approach.

"I think his game is definitely suited to probably the last 10 overs of a T20 game. But there may be times where the matchups are right we can get in Andre a little bit earlier, up the order.

"That will be a horses for courses type approach but the good thing is we've got lots of resources to be able to choose from."

Clearly indicating that Russell, Morgan, Sunil Narine and Pat Cummins will be the four overseas players that he will mainly depend on during the tournament, McCullum said the team can really shock the oppositions if the wickets aid seamers in the initial few matches.

"Cummins has the ability to take early wickets and if we can do that, we know we've got some quality spinners. When you couple them all together, I'm really content with the unit that we've got, particularly on these wickets because they might have a little bit more in them than what most people are anticipating," he said.

"If the wickets play as we expect, then I think we could shock a few really with the pace and speeds with which our bowlers can operate," he said.

With the overseas combination already set for KKR, Tom Banton may have to wait for his chances.

"He probably won't start for us in this campaign because we will go with a slightly different balance but what he gives you so many different options. He has already made a bit of a splash in International cricket," he said.

"He's a guy who even against various bowling attacks of the world, can still shock them, and dominate them. And when he gets his opportunity, I'm sure he will entertain the fans all around the world."

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Kolkata Knight RidersShubman GillIndian Premier League, 2020Brendon Barrie McCullum
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