IPL 2022: Sheldon Jackson has sort of an MS Dhoni feel – Brendon McCullum

Preferred batting spots are hard to come by in a tournament as competitive as the Indian Premier League. National running machine Sheldon Jackson has proven to be an excellent wicket-keeper for the Kolkata Knight Riders, but the high-pressure league is yet to see the power hitter.

Sheldon usually beats at No. 3 or No. 4 for Saurashtra. And he had barely a few deliveries to face at No.6 against Chennai Super Kings. He was not out on three, while Shreyas Iyer finished the match. And against Royal Challengers Bangalore, the right-hander came in at No.7 and fell for a golden duck. He didn’t read Wanindu Hasaranga’s googly.

Despite three clean catches behind the stumps and a few stumps in the first two appearances, he had to make way for dressmaker Shivam Mavi for the game against the Punjab Kings to keep the team balanced. But KKR management thinks highly of him and he will play more games this season.

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KKR head coach Brendon McCullum praised Sheldon for his ball-striking abilities. “Sheldon continues to improve. He’s 35, but you wouldn’t know that. His growth over the last two years has been significant. He has a good ability to hit the ball. And very few players hit the ball as far as he can. he does it, he’s not too far, if not the same, behind Andre Russell when he kicks the ball. I’m sure with more chances we’ll see a performance from Sheldon.” the former New Zealand captain told reporters.

Sheldon took three catches against RCB, including a one-handed dive, and he beat Shahbaz Ahmed off Varun Chakravarthy at a crucial moment. “The wicket-keeping skills have been superb. He has a sort of MS Dhoni sense of guarding; very quick hands and an understanding of rotation. He knows what bowlers are doing. He is desperate to do well”, McCullum said.

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It’s unclear if KKR will rotate Sheldon and Sam Billings behind the stumps. Since places for foreigners are limited, the stakes could be higher for an Indian wicket-keeper when all players are available.

Sheldon has 1514 T20 runs and a highest score of 106 steps against Andhra when he represented Pondicherry for the 2020-21 leg of the Syed Mushtaq Ali T20. He hits the ball at 120.73.

Top notch fielding

KKR has been phenomenal in the field. And Tim Southee’s electric sprint from distance to mid-race covering a distance of 32m to catch Kagiso Rabada turned many heads.

KKR mentor David Hussey highlighted the hard work done by coach James Foster. “The boys play a lot on the pitch. Coach James [Foster] is excellent; arguably one of the best field coaches in the world. He rides the boys pretty hard. There’s a lot of ground and catching ground. He makes sure the boys are ready for the game. He makes sure they are nice and comfortable under high balls and flat balls.”

The Knights will next face Mumbai Indians on April 6 in Pune. Australian Test captain Pat Cummins is available for selection for the contest against the five-time champion. “Pat is a leader. And he will add another layer of leadership in and around Shreyas,” McCullum added.

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