Dubai [UAE], October 16 (ANI): Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) head coach Brendon McCullum has said opening batter Venkatesh Iyer was a "big catalyst" in the side's redemption in the second half of the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2021.
Chennai Super Kings (CSK) beat Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) in the IPL 2021 final in Dubai on Friday to lift their fourth IPL title.
KKR had won two games in the IPL 2021 during the first half but the side came back with strong performances in the UAE leg to qualify for the playoffs.
McCullum didn't shy away from praising Iyer, who scored more than 300 runs in the UAE leg for KKR and played a key role in the team's road to the finals.
"Venkatesh Iyer has been quite an incredible story. Looking back, he was actually going to play the next game when we were in India. In a funny way, the break came there at a good time too," said McCullum during the post-match press conference.
"It gave him an opportunity to just get another couple of months of cricket under his belt, to understand that his opportunities weren't too far away.
"For him, it was a matter of bringing the game he owns -- the Venkatesh Iyer game plan -- to the table, which is an aggressive intent. He's a big presence; he's a tall man. He plays the game with a cavalier kind of streak. It's so important he holds on to that.
"He will be challenged to change his methods at times too. He might not necessarily be the most consistent because of his flamboyancy. I hope he remains the Venkatesh Iyer that we have seen so far. He's got an enormous future in this game, and he's a very intelligent man. He was a big catalyst for our turnaround this season," McCullum added.
KKR captain Eoin Morgan on the other hand had a dismal outing in this edition. The left-handed batter scored just 133 runs in 17 matches for KKR.
McCullum said Morgan was driving the team forward with his captaincy but admitted that the English skipper failed to get the runs under his belt despite multiple opportunities.
"Look it's a really unique situation, wasn't it? He (Morgan) was captaining out of his skin, he was going about captaining as well as what I've ever seen him captain, and as well as I've seen anyone really captain in a T20 competition. I thought he was driving the team forward with his captaincy," said McCullum.
"Unfortunately the runs weren't there for him no matter how hard he tried. We tried to put him in that position where he's been so successful in those last five overs right throughout his T20 career, but unfortunately wasn't to be."
"There are many examples over the years of guys who have struggled for form leading into big games but then been able to find something in that situation to be able to get a performance. And that was what I was clinging on to tonight with both the captain and also the vice-captain but it wasn't to be," he added.
Mccullum also spoke about Andre Russell's injury and what prompted the franchise to keep him out of the playing XI as KKR didn't want to afford any risk of further damage.
"Yeah, look, Andre obviously had a hamstring tear early on in the competition. He worked unbelievably hard to try and get himself available. He was still at risk there. And I felt (if) it was a risk in a final, we just couldn't afford to take," said the KKR coach.
"And then we had another hamstring issue with Rahul Tripathi so, look, such is the nature of hamstrings that you are just never sure whether they are going to be fully healed or not, and it's such a big risk.
"So we decided to go with guys who had helped us to reach the finals. I am really proud of what the guys have achieved. We were outplayed by a very good CSK side," McCullum added. (ANI)