Kolkata: It was actually after winning a game against Chennai Super Kings that Dinesh Karthik, then the Kolkata Knight Riders captain for two and-a-half seasons, volunteered to step down from captaincy during IPL 2020 in the UAE - making way for the World Cup winning captain Eoin Morgan to step into his shoes.
The Knights, who are looking to shrug off a demoralising loss against Mumbai Indians in their last game as they take on Virat Kohli’s Royal Challengers Bangalore in the first match of a double-header on Sunday, revealed the inside story of their transition in captaincy in the latest episode of a series of documentaries on the journey of KKR.
A change of captaincy in the IPL, even midway in the season, had been not exactly now. The general perception remains that the former Indian keeper-batsman Karthik was pushed to a corner to take such a decision, but the Knights management had a different take on it in the series.
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“It wasn’t an emotional decision. He (Karthik) was actually very logical and selfless from his point of view and to show the courage to step down in the middle of the competition based on (what) you think is better for the team, is incredibly courageous,” reflected current skipper Morgan.
Intriguingly enough, when Karthik took the decision during their stay in Abu Dhabi last year, the Knights had four wins and three losses and very much in the running for the play-offs.
However, according to their head coach Brendan McCullum, Karthik had actually put across his thoughts to the team management of October 7, the day they had won their encounter against Chennai Super Kings. The official announcement took place a week later on October 15 on the eve of their game against Mumbai Indians.
“We were downstairs in a restaurant when he (DK) said ‘Baz, Morgs, Venky do you mind if I grab a few minutes of your time?’ I was like yeah no worries skipper! He said, ‘I think now it’s a good time for me to step aside’, and I said we just won a game! And you’re saying ‘now is a good time for me to step aside as captain because I thought I want to focus more on my batting and I think Morgan is the right man for the job?’,” recalled McCullum.
When asked what was playing on his mind before he decided to hand over the captaincy, Karthik said: “I wanted to give Morgan a chance because it was really important, we had played seven and there were seven more games to go, so we had enough time. It would have been very unfair of me to move on if we were doing so badly that we had no chance further in the tournament.
“In the 2.5 years that I have led the team, I think I earned the trust of the boys. I think that’s very important as a leader. They know for a fact that they would get a lot of honesty from me. That makes things easy and Morgan is very similar to me on that front. I think the boys believed that both the people put the team ahead of themselves and that’s why the decision was taken,” added Karthik, now Morgan’s go-to man and the vice-captain.
Karthik’s sudden announcement had indeed his team members surprised and shocked. Shubman Gill, their opening batsman and often touted as a future captaincy material himself, said: “I got a message on my phone saying there was a meeting and we had a match the day after and I thought it’s an odd time for a team meeting because we usually don’t do that. I really had no clue what DK bhaiya was going to say and when he told everyone that he was not going to be the captain of the team, I was just looking at other people. It takes a lot of courage to do that, especially in the middle of a season. And it really shows how much he is committed to the team,” he told the KKR website.