Trouble in Eden?

Poor results expose cracks within the Kolkata set-up.

Gautam Gambhir has often spoken about the strong team bonding that Kolkata Knight Riders share.

And while all seemed hunky dory after KKR won the fifth edition of the Indian Premier League, a poor run in this year has revealed there are still cracks in the setup, something synonymous with the team since IPL's inception.

While no player is ready to come on record with details of the problems, a lot of players have revealed that reports of rifts are not mere rumours.

It all started with the Manoj Tiwary episode when the Bengal Ranji captain — after being left out of the 15-man squad for the match against Mumbai Indians — vented his anger on the social networking site Twitter, and later stated that his account had been hacked.

While the latter tweet ensured that Tiwary was brought back into the team, it opened up the can of worms. Not only have a few of KKR's selections been appalling, raising questions of favouritism, coach Trevor Bayliss' position has also come under the scanner.

At the centre of the problem is a reported axis between skipper Gambhir and assistant coach Vijay Dahiya, both of whom hail from Delhi.

Bayliss had blasted his batsmen after the loss to Delhi Daredevils in Raipur, saying: "Batting has not been very good in most of the innings. We'll try to get back the best players in the top order.”

But still Yusuf Pathan was persisted with, despite not making a single fifty in three seasons.

Debabrata Das, a player who doesn't even earn a regular place in the Bengal team, has played nine matches, scoring just 67 runs. In fact, he was preferred over Tiwary in the game against Mumbai Indians — a decision that forced the latter to question co-owner Jay Mehta about the decision-making abilities of the management.

But there is a feeling in the camp that Das is in Gambhir's good books.

If this isn't enough, when Bayliss was questioned about not giving Delhi Ranji player Sumit Narwal a single over in Raipur against the Daredevils, Bayliss had said Gambhir might have thought the other bowlers were better suited to the situation.

Yet, in a format where there are two strategic time-outs in an innings, it all seems pretty surprising that the coach wouldn't have a clue about the skipper's strategies.

Asked why Narwal was picked — if not for his seam bowling — Bayliss said Gambhir must have seen something in him.

But on being questioned about the difference in opinion about Narwal's selection, KKR assistant coach Vijay Dahiya told Mail Todaythat it was a decision taken by the entire team management.

"Bayliss was really impressed with Narwal when he saw him at the nets. So I don't know where the story of us not being on the same page is coming from. To be honest, all the selections calls are taken by Gambhir, Bayliss, Jacques Kallis and myself. I think there are some people who are disgruntled and can't see us having such a good working relationship.

In fact, Bayliss also is sad that he isn't able to provide someone as talented as Paras Dogra a game,” he said.

But, a KKR insider gives a complete different picture.

"No two people are same and there are bound to be differences of opinion. But there is an issue when the difference is created due to bias. While Bayliss has tried very hard to provide a fair opportunity to everyone within the ranks, the Gambhir-Dahiya camp has ensured that Delhi players are favoured,” he told Mail Today. His blame is definitely supported by Pradeep Sangwan's inclusion in the playing XI against Royal Challengers Bangalore, when the pacer gave away 34 runs from his two overs.

On the other hand, a KKR player who plays for Delhi in the Ranji Trophy, feels that all this is uncalled for and a result of the team not doing too well.

"I feel that all these rumours are a work of fiction. The team is really like a family and there is no such case of favouritism. I think if the team had done well, all these rumours wouldn't have done the rounds,” he said.


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