My job to lead from front, says Karthik after another KKR loss

Kolkata: Kolkata Knight Riders skipper Dinesh Karthik feels that questions are bound to be raised against his captaincy after the team suffered its sixth defeat in row in the IPL but ‘his job is to lead from the front’.

The World Cup-bound Karthik regained his batting form with an unbeaten 97 off 50 balls, helping KKR recover from 49 for 3 to a challenging 176 against Rajasthan Royals here on Thursday night.

However, the hosts failed to defend the total with teenager Riyan Parag (47) and Jofra Archer (27 not out) scripting a stunning three-wicket win. ‘It’s my job to lead from the front. But sometimes the results don’t go your way. So it’s obviously always a tough thing to mend. But the fact is that we try hard as a team and I have belief in my boys that we’ll come stronger,’ he said.

With another loss, KKR’s hopes of making the play-offs are all but over. ‘It is very difficult. I am not going to sit here and say ‘it’s okay and stuff’… It’s very disappointing. We tried hard but we were just not able to cross the line.’

Following their nine-wicket defeat to Sunrisers Hyderabad which was their fifth defeat in a row, Karthik was given a ‘break’ as the skipper was not seen with the team on the eve of the match, raising speculation about his captaincy.

‘Obviously when the results don’t go your way these questions will be asked, and I understand that. But as a team, we’re trying to do a lot of things right. There’re no things that we’re not attending to. We’re trying to make the right changes, build the right combination and trying to come in every game believing that we can win. We’re trying to keep everybody in good space and making sure the dressing room is good and they all trust in the leader.’

Spin duo of Sunil Narine and Piyush Chawla shared five wickets among them and removed the three key batsmen — Ajinkya Rahane, Steve Smith and Ben Stokes. But the pacers let the team down with Parag and Archer sealing the chase with 44-run stand for the seventh wicket. ‘I think bowling overall has been found wanting a little bit definitely. I think batting as well… That’s why we are not been able to close games. That’s something we need to look into definitely,’ Karthik added.

Rajasthan Royals captain, Steve Smith praised 17-year old Riyan Parag who fought back and helped RR chase the total with a vital 47 runs. He said, ‘We made it difficult for ourselves. We lost too many wickets in the middle section after a good start. Riyan Parag .. isn’t he an impressive young man? He played very composed like a seasoned campaigner. Great contribution from Gopal and Archer too.’

Rajasthan Royals also changed their bowling line-up bringing in Oshane Thomas and Varun Aaron and both the quickies gave a good start for the team with the ball.

‘I thought they bowled really well with the new ball, first 7-8 overs. Oshane did well in his first game. Varun Aaron was exceptional with the new ball. The boys did a great job. There was some really good shots from DK, who played a terrific innings. Happy to get over the line.’

However, Rajasthan will lose the services of Jofra Archer and Ben Stokes next game as they will be heading to England. ‘We lose a few players now. Jofra and Stokesy, they go back to England now – two big holes to fill. I am here for 13 games. After the Bangalore one, I’ll be heading back. Hopefully, I can contribute and see if we can get few more wins,’ he said.