Harshit and Vaibhav have the ability to move the ball, the duo can play for India – Bharat Arun

Bharat Arun for KKR
Bharat Arun for KKR (PC: KKR/X)

Bharat Arun, former Team India bowling coach and currently part of the IPL 2024 winning Kolkata Knight Riders franchise, has heaped praises on Harshit Rana and Vaibhav Arora. The twosome played a crucial part in helping the team win the IPL title. Arun has been working closely with the pacer-duo and feels that both have the potential to play for India for a long time. In an exclusive chat with RevSportz, he shared his insights on the promising fast-bowling duo, Shreyas Iyer’s captaincy, Gautam Gambhir’s role as a mentor, comeback of Mitchell Starc, KKR’s famed spin-bowling-duet and a lot more. Here are the excerpts:

How do you look back at KKR’s stellar season? How is the feeling in the camp?

Bharat Arun: It is a great feeling to train and be part of an IPL winning team. The feeling has to sink in (yet), I think it will take at least next 24 hours. But I can tell you it is an outstanding feeling.

Everyone is talking about the KKR bowling group. Even the great Sachin Tendulkar tweeted that it was the bowlers who came to the party…

Bharat Arun: Always good to see bowlers first up get to move the ball. It is always a good sight, no matter what type of cricket you are playing – ODI, T20 and Test (cricket). I think the bowlers who can genuinely move the ball can create a great impression and both Vaibhav and Harshit have this ability to move the ball. I think they should keep nurturing that trait in them.

Do you think the current crop of fast bowlers – the likes of Harshit Rana and Vaibhav Arora –  can go on to play for India?

Bharat Arun: I would definitely say yes. This IPL has thrown up a lot of fast bowlers, at least 8-10 fast bowlers who can play for India for a long time. I sincerely feel that they need to be nurtured well. If they can be groomed, we can have a good crop of fast bowlers serving India. If you look at Umran Malik, somebody who bowls fast. Mayank Yadav is also an exceptional talent.

When it mattered the most, Mitchell Starc rose to the occasion. Your thoughts?

Bharat Arun: He has proved to the world that he is one of the greatest bowlers in all formats. And when the chips were down, a lot of people criticised him, but given the bowler he is, who has (also) faced many such situations. He was aware of his strengths. It was just a matter of time (for him) to understand the conditions and once he did it, he was unstoppable.

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When Starc was not doing well, what were the kind of discussions that took place?

Bharat Arun: Everyone is aware of what Starc can do as a bowler and that is precisely the reason why he was taken by the franchise. Yes, the dialogues are always about reminding his strengths and my experience of watching him bowl closely during the India and Australia series. We also had discussions about how he has to put his strengths to use, particularly in hot and humid conditions. How he can preserve his energy. Once he got a feel of the conditions and focussed on his strengths, the result was for everyone to see.

Was there any specific plan for Travis Head and Abhishek Sharma, the in-form openers for Sunrisers Hyderabad?

Bharat Arun: Every team discusses the opponent’s batters. It is good to be aware about the strengths of the batters and areas that could trouble them. So, we had similar discussions and zeroed in on a few things which we needed to do and that paid dividends for us.

Varun Chakravarthy has been a revelation with 21 wickets in the season. What would you say about his performance?

Bharat Arun: He (Varun Chakravarthy) is a quiet performer, who is constantly looking to innovate. He is one bowler who really works hard on understanding himself, spending endless hours in the nets. Him being a spinner gives the luxury of bowling that much more, compared to a fast bowler. Constantly learning and experimenting is what works for him. I think he worked hard on that. All bowlers complemented each other like Varun and Sunny (Sunil Narine) bowling in tandem. And then the fast bowlers supporting each other, paved the way for our success.

Narine once again proved what a great performer he has been for the franchise over the years. What are your thoughts?

Bharat Arun: I think Sunil was a revelation, particularly his batting. We all know he could bat, but off late his batting form has dipped considerably. But all kudos to Gambhir on insisting (that he needs) to open the batting, and he was very confident that Sunil would do well for us. In the end, that really paid huge dividends for us.

Gautam Gambhir
Gautam Gambhir (PC: KKR)

A lot of people are talking about the impact of Gautam Gambhir. You have worked with him in the past and know him well. Tell us more about his impact?

Bharat Arun: What you see, what you get, very straightforward on the face. He is completely a player’s man. He has been fantastic this season. Anyone who went up to him and talked, he would listen to them and give them space. And I think he did a magnificent job as a mentor.

Shreyas Iyer as captain was fantastic. Despite concerns with his injury, losing the central contract and then coming back the way he did…

Bharat Arun: He (Shreyas) has been outstanding throughout the season. He has this ability to focus what is under his nose. He has been unbelievable. All that mattered to him was winning the IPL and I thought he did a brilliant job as captain.

Finally, a word on the team owner Shah Rukh Khan, especially the way he inspired the boys. Your thoughts about his involvement with the team this season?

Bharat Arun: I think him being with the team most of the time was very inspiring. Whenever he speaks to the team, it is very exceptional.

Also Read: “Gautam Gambhir has all the credentials to be India’s head coach” – B Arun