Kolkata Knight Riders Name Chandrakant Pandit Head Coach

Chandrakant Pandit, the former wicketkeeper of India, has been appointed as the head coach of Kolkata Knight Riders. He will take over from Brendon McCullum, who stepped down after a three-year stint to take charge of the England test team.

Pandit, who played five Tests and 36 ODIs for India between 1986 and 1992, is a highly regarded coach on the Indian domestic circuit. He won the Ranji Trophy, India’s premier first-class competition, with Mumbai in 2002-03, 2003-04 and 2015-16, but perhaps his greatest claim to fame is the success he has achieved with lesser-known teams: his triumph with a disinterested Madhya Pradesh team came after similar results with Vidarbha last season – taking them to their first Ranji title in 2017-18, then helping them defend it in 2018-19. Pandit was also director of cricket in Rajasthan when they defended their Ranji title – again, only their second ever – in 2011-12.

Pandit’s signing to KKR is not expected to stand in the way of his commitments to MP, at least for the upcoming 2022-23 domestic season. An MPCA official confirmed to ESPNcricinfo that he will continue to manage the team in various formats.

This will be Pandit’s first stay with an IPL franchise. He will be KKR’s first Indian head coach and will team up with his former Mumbai protégé Abhishek Nayar (assistant coach) and Bharat Arun (bowling coach).

Pandit will also reunite with KKR captain Shreyas Iyer, who he helped transition from the Under-19s to the Mumbai senior squad. Iyer’s breakthrough 2015-16 Ranji season, in which he topped the tournament aggregates by 1,321 runs, including a match-winning century in the final against Saurashtra, came under Pandit. At the time, a young Iyer had spoken heartily of the lessons he had learned in discipline and patience from a tactician like Pandit.

“We are thrilled to have Chandu join the Knight Riders family to lead us through the next phase of our journey,” Knight Riders CEO Venky Mysore said in a statement. “His deep dedication to what he does and his track record of success in domestic cricket is there for all to see. We look forward to working with our skipper Shreyas Iyer, which promises to be an exciting one.”

In addition to his work with various domestic teams, Pandit has also been associated with the National Cricket Academy and the India Under-19s in the past. At the 2010 Under-19 World Championship, he was the head coach of an India team that included KL Rahul, Mayank Agarwal, Harshal Patel, Mandeep Singh and Jaydev Unadkat.

During his time at MP, Pandit has worked closely with KKR all-rounder Venkatesh Iyer. After MP Ranji’s victory, he told ESPNcricinfo in an interview how he had worked to get Venkatesh to step up the opening injunction, which had telling effect.

Pandit, who is known to have a coach-like approach to coaching, has spoken in the past about how his methods don’t necessarily work in an IPL setup. In a recent conversation with ESPNcricinfo, he had suggested that the lack of time to work with players, the cutthroat nature of the tournament and a results-driven mentality might not always work in his favor.

“I have heard from players and others associated with the Knight Riders about the family culture and tradition of success that has been created,” Pandit said in a statement. “I am thrilled with the quality of the support staff and players that make up the set-up, and I look forward to this opportunity with all humility and positive expectations.”

KKR have won two IPL titles, in 2012 and 2014. Since then, they came closest when they reached the final in 2021, when they lost to Chennai Super Kings. This year, a slew of indifferent results in the first half of the season pushed them out of contention for the playoffs, eventually finishing seventh on the ten-team table with six wins and eight losses.

Leave a Comment