Hodge chosen as possible opener for KKR
Kolkata Knight Riders will probably open the batting with Aussie batsman Brad Hodge in the third season of the Indian Premier League. He will open in the absence of Chris Gayle and Brendan McCullum who are playing in the national team against Zimbabwe and Australia respectively.
Kolkata coach Dav Whatmore said that the team is exploring the possibility of Hodge opening the batting. "Brad is a fine addition to our squad. He looked good during practice on Sunday. He is one of the key players for Victoria during their Twenty20 Big Bash triumph. He has also been a consistent performer in the Australian domestic season as well".
Hodge was the fourth-highest run-scorer in the Twenty20 Big Bash with 181 in seven innings. Though Hodge announced his retirement from first-class cricket, Whatmore said he remained a force.
There are several candidates for the role of Hodge's opening partner, including Manoj Tiwary, Chirag Pathak and Sourav Ganguly. Whatmore said Hodge's success would determine whether he continued as opener once Gayle and McCullum joined the team. "If he does well at the top of the order, he will certainly continue playing at that position," Whatmore said.
Whatmore also said fast bowler Ishant Sharma's sessions with Wasim Akram would be of great help. He added that if Ishant benefits from Akram's tips, it would not only help his and KKR's prospect, but it would also help the national team.
When asked if fielding was an area of concern for Kolkata, he said "We have identified the areas we need to work upon and those areas are being addressed. It is a continuous process but we are slowly improving . We have to work hard on each and every aspect of the game."
Kolkata finished sixth in the first season and last in the previous season. They kick off their campaign against defending champions Deccan Chargers on March 12 in Mumbai.