Kolkata Knight Riders batter Venkatesh Iyer. Pic: IPLT20.COM
Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) head coach Brendon McCullum has thrown his weight behind Venkatesh Iyer and backed the batting all-rounder to come good soon. He also asserted that the left-hander is not out of the reckoning for a place in the playing XI in the remaining IPL 2022 matches.
KKR’s playoffs suffered a massive setback following their 75-run hammering at the hands of the Lucknow Super Giants (LSG) at the MCA Stadium in Pune on Saturday, May 7. Venkatesh Iyer remained out of the playing XI as Kolkata decided to open with Aaron Finch and Baba Indrajith. Both openers failed as Kolkata slipped to 25 for four inside seven overs in a chase of 177.
Speaking after the defeat, McCullum assured that Venkatesh Iyer is still in the plans when it comes to the team’s playing XI. Sharing his views on the left-hander’s struggles, he said:
“He didn’t get as many runs as he would have liked and we were forced to look at some other (opening) options, which is disappointing for someone who has represented India in the last seven-eight months on the back of what was a very good IPL last time in the UAE.”
The 27-year-old was dropped from the team after Kolkata’s loss to the Delhi Capitals (DC) at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai on April 28. The out-of-form batter was dismissed for six off 12 as KKR were held to 146 for 9 batting first.
Elaborating on Venkatesh Iyer’s struggles, the franchise’s head coach assured that the hardworking cricketer is doing everything possible to find his rhythm back. He said:
“It is frustrating for him and he is working hard in the nets and trying to get his spot back and that’ll certainly be a consideration. In a short tournament, you’ve got to be prepared to use some other guys in the squad and that’s what we had to unfortunately do with Venkatesh but he’s certainly not out of the reckoning in the games to come. He is a real talent and has a good head on his shoulders. I know he is determined to take that next step and start to perform more regularly.”
In nine matches, the Kolkata batter has only managed 132 runs at an average of 16.50 and a strike rate of 97.78.
“Teams do a bit more scouting and homework” – KKR coach on second-season syndrome for Iyer
McCullum agreed that things were going to be tougher for Venkatesh Iyer this season as opponents would have done additional homework on him. He admitted:
“As well with Venky’s second year, teams do a bit more scouting and homework as has historically been the case in this tournament as well as in international cricket.”
Venkatesh Iyer had a huge role to play in KKR’s turnaround in IPL 2021. Coming into the playing XI for the UAE leg, he smashed 370 runs in 10 games as the franchise finished as runners-up.