Flamboyant all-rounder Venkatesh Iyer has credited Kolkata Knight Riders for giving him the right direction. The 27-year-old took the center stage in the second half of IPL 2021 and scored 370 runs in 10 matches at a strike rate of 128.47. He played a crucial role in KKR’s emphatic comeback in the UAE leg of IPL after his team’s slow start in initial matches. KKR finished as runners-up of last season and Iyer went on to make his T20I debut for India.
Iyer recalled the time when he went unsold twice in the last year’s auction but KKR decided to pick him in the final round as the franchises scouted him after his decent batting display for Madhya Pradesh in Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy ahead of the auction.
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“Huge thanks to KKR. Had it not been for KKR, I wouldn’t have been anywhere. I had a decent Mushtaq Ali last year – a few good scores and one particular innings where I finished the game for my side. With these knocks coming in, KKR scouted me and they picked me in the auction. It was down to the wire in the auction. I was unsold twice and then picked by KKR in the final round,” Iyer said on chat show Backstage with Boria.
Iyer thanked KKR for believing in him and heaped huge praise on the two-time champions for creating a culture where they didn’t ignore any player.
“Once I was in KKR, there was a point where I felt like I was somewhere, I am doing something correct in my life. Then the first phase happened and I did not get my opportunity. But, thanks to KKR for believing in me and making me understand that even though I am not playing, I am there in the mix. They did not ignore me altogether or any player for that matter. They always kept pushing me that I’ll play, and when I play, I am going to do well,” he added.
Iyer was one of the pillars for KKR’s massive turnaround in the second half of the season where the franchise decided to give him a chance in playing XI as an opener. He joined hands with Shubman Gill at the top and played some valuable knocks for the team as KKR reached their third IPL final.
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“That spirit that KKR showed brought out the best in me. It would be very wrong if I say that it was me who did that. It was the team that made me do it, which is something I would like to cherish.”
“We were not where we wanted to be at the end of the first leg in India. But then came UAE and what happened was a story that can be told even 20-30 years later. It was a really special journey,” he added.
Ahead of the IPL 2022 mega auction, KKR retained Iyer for a massive INR 8 crore ahead of some senior players. The franchise also retained Andre Russell, Varun Chakravarthy and Sunil Narine alongside Iyer as they will look to regroup some players in the mega auction.
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