Kolkata: Seamer R Vinay Kumar threw his weight behind in-form wicketkeeper-batsman Dinesh Karthik who was a surprise choice to lead the two-time champions Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) at the upcoming Indian Premier League (IPL).
KKR, who chose not to retain their two-time IPL winning skipper Gautam Gambhir, have handed the baton to Karthik who has big shoes to fill and will have veteran Robin Uthappa as his deputy.
"He did not lead many matches for Tamil Nadu does not mean he's not a good leader. He's a very good leader, hopefully he will do well. We have many seniors, have to help each other," Vinay Kumar, a former Karnataka skipper, said.
Karthik has played for five franchises in IPL — Delhi Daredevils, Kings XI Punjab, Mumbai Indians, Royal Challengers Bangalore and Gujarat Lions — in 152 matches across 10 seasons before joining KKR.
As a skipper, Karthik led Tamil Nadu to the Vijay Hazare Trophy one-day tournament win over Bengal in 2009-10, and also captained India Red to the Duleep Trophy title last year. He also led Albert Tuti Patriots to the the Tamil Nadu Premier League title in 2016.
"He's really a good guy. I've played most of my cricket with him or against him. The way he played for India in the final was amazing," he said referring to his eight ball 29 not-out to win the final of the Tri-series T20I tournament in Sri Lanka.
"From nowhere he took the game and finished the game. He's a very nice guy and will definitely do well for KKR. I look forward, it's all about play as a team."
KKR will have a lot of youngsters this time beginning with three World Cup winning under-19 recruits in Shivam Mavi, Shubman Gill and Kamlesh Nagarkoti.
Strongly coming out in support of the youngsters, Vinay Kumar said, "They have not played any IPL matches does not mean they are not good. Everybody has to perform well. Youngsters will bring in more energy on the field. They are good enough, that's where they are here.
"It's very important to share your knowledge with them. Whatever I've learnt I want to make sure that these guys are benefited, and in a right frame of mind to deliver. I will give them the right space to do well," said the Karnataka seamer, who has scalped 103 wickets in 103 IPL matches at an average of 28 and a strike rate of 20.
Vinay Kumar has been playing IPL since its very first edition. He was first picked up by RCB where he continued till 2011. He played for the Kochi Tuskers in 2011 and then for KKR in 2014 before being traded to Mumbai Indians in 2015 as he returns to his former team.
"It's a great feeling coming back to KKR. I was a part of KKR four years back when we won the tournament. I'm really happy to be back," he said.
"We have a very good bowling lineup with (Mitchell) Starc, (Sunil) Narine, (Mitchell) Johnson, I'm really excited. I will see how it goes.
"I'm preparing myself fully. I will give my best when I'm given an opportunity," he signed off adding DRS's inclusion to IPL-11 will be a big advantage to all the teams.