10Cric IPL

Indian Premier League: Yusuf Pathan backs KKR bowling line-up

Yusuf Pathan Piyush ChawlaKolkata: Kolkata Knight Riders' (KKR) strength in the Indian Premier League (IPL) this season will be their bowling, long-serving all-rounder Yusuf Pathan said here on Sunday.

"We have quality bowlers in this team this time. We were lacking good bowling options previously. But this time we have a lot of variety, not only in bowling but in all departments," Pathan who has been donning KKR's purple shirt since 2011, told reporters.

KKR have roped in England's Chris Woakes and New Zealand's Trent Boult ahead of the 2017 edition of the IPL.

The two-time IPL champions also have Australian Nathan Coulter-Nile, in-form Umesh Yadav, and Jamaican Rovman Powell, among others, in their pace line-up.

In the spin department, West Indies star Sunil Narine, Chinaman Kuldeep Yadav, Piyush Chawla, and all-rounders Shakib Al Hasan and Pathan complete the list.

"This year we have batting all-rounders, spinning all-rounders, fast bowling all-rounders. So when you have such players in the side adding so much variety, the competition for first XI is high and it is very healthy," the 34-year-old Pathan said.

On Kuldeep, who recently made a dream debut for India in the fourth Test against Australia returning best first innings figures of 4/68, Pathan said the Kanpur lad has a bright future.

"He made a great debut. He has a bright future. I think we will do very well with him and also with Umesh (Yadav) as he too has bowled superbly for India. It will be beneficial for team."

Andre Russell's absence will be felt more in the dressing room, Pathan said, adding he was a great character to have in the side.

Russell has been handed a one-year ban for violating anti-doping regulations.

"We are not on the backfoot (as Russell is not playing). Russell was an important cog in our wheel not only on field, but in the dressing room also. He is a great character to have. There are situations when players miss out. He will be missed in the dressing room. But we have to look ahead and work with what we have."

Woakes arrived last night, and Pathan said the England all-rounder will strengthen the team.

"Obviously, the team has been strengthened. The team will be balanced more with him in our ranks as he bowls and bats also."

On a different note, Pathan, who was part of India's 2011 World Cup winning squad, said the moment can never be erased out of memory on its sixth anniversary.

"It is a very proud moment for the entire country. We won the World Cup after so long. After 1983, we won it. The memories will forever be fresh in our minds."