Important to make winning start count: Shukla


Being an all- rounder brings with it enormous responsibility, and Kolkata Knight Riders’ Laxmi Ratan Shukla has relished his role all these years. Shukla has been a part of the Knight Riders setup since IPL’s inception and understandably has an emotional attachment with the team.

“The atmosphere in the team has always been fantastic and I have enjoyed every moment of it. There have been tough times but I don’t want to dwell on the past. It’s not always going to be smooth. But this team has come out of it exceptionally well and kudos to the boys’ and everyone involved for their indomitable spirit,” Shukla told Mail Today on Sunday.

The defending champions have made a perfect start to their campaign but Shukla feels that they need to capitalise on the good start, unlike previous year when they had lost in the opening two matches and only a strong surge in the later stages helped them gain momentum.

“We have started on a winning note and we have to maintain this form. Last year’s triumph is history and we need to focus on the present.
Every match is going to be important but we need to keep our composure when we lose some and last season’s experience is going to help us,” he said.

Being one of the senior members of the team, Shukla is not daunted by the prospect of the unforgiving format and the league’s unpredictable nature. He also refused to compare the captaincy styles of Gautam Gambhir and Sourav Ganguly, saying that both are leaders with different qualities.

“It’s not right to compare their captaincy styles. Both are great captains and as much as I have enjoyed playing under Dada, I am also having a great time playing under Gautam (Gambhir). Gautam, at the moment is in great nick and is leading from the front,” he said.

Shukla said that although Wasim Akram is not going to be with the team for this season, the legendary paceman is always available for advice and he is in touch with him.

He also said Brett Lee is trying to help out the bowlers and the additional responsibility won’t be a burden for the Australian, who is also the team’s mentor.

“Wasim bhai’s presence in the team was an important factor in our side’s triumph and although he won’t be in person for this edition, he is always available for advice. Brett is also there to help out the bowlers and I don’t think the additional duty will hamper his bowling,” the 31- year- old said.

There was a time when Shukla remained in the fringes of national duty. A total of three ODIs may not have done justice to his experience and calibre.

When India struggled to find the missing link in the team composition, Shukla, despite some solid performances in the domestic league, failed to find a place. He, however, seemed a bit diffident while talking about his chances of a national call- up and wants to concentrate solely on the present. KKR’s success in the league is his only aim.

“ Selection in the national team is something that I have stopped thinking about because it is not in my hands. So there is no point in me sulking over it. I try to give my best in every game I play. I have always been cautious about my fitness. As a professional, you always have to be on your toes,” Shukla said.

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