Rejuvenated Cariappa back in Knight Riders’ fold

K C Cariappa

For all the noise he generated ahead of the eighth edition of the Indian Premier League, KC Cariappa ended up playing just one game. 

The Karnataka leg-spinner was the talk of the auction in 2015 when the Kolkata Knight Riders picked him for Rs 2.4 crore, 24 times his base price of Rs 10 lakh. The unheralded Cariappa dismissed AB de Villiers but had to warm the benches after his debut against Royal Challengers Bangalore.   

Four seasons later, Cariappa is back in the KKR mix, thanks to injuries to the pace duo of Shivam Mavi and Kamlesh Nagarkoti. “It’s an amazing feeling. This is a team that changed my life. The auction amount four years ago was of a huge help to my family,” Cariappa, who joined the KKR camp on Sunday, told DH

Till last year, unfortunately, Cariappa’s claim to fame was his surprise pick by KKR. His seven wickets for Kings XI Punjab from nine games across two seasons failed to make a positive impact on his career.

“I missed out on opportunities due to team combinations. In KKR, Sunil Narine was returning from a ban so he was obviously the first choice. In fact I was lucky to make my IPL debut before Kuldeep Yadav. That’s the confidence they had in me. But we had eight spinners and the team combination changed accordingly. In Punjab, I produced a mixed performance and with established players like Axar Patel, it was always going to be tough for me,” Cariappa explained. 

The journey took a further downward slide when he failed to make the cut for Karnataka and went unsold in 2018. Cariappa had no answers to his struggling phase. “I had a bad year. I knew I was going to be ignored by the State selectors because I failed to produce the required results. I didn’t understand what was going wrong and it was frustrating to sit at home,” he said.

Cariappa carries the mystery-spinner tag but he doesn’t feel that as an added burden. “Today, batsmen watch videos and try to understand the tricks. But I believe in sticking to my strength. I am confident of my tricks and not worried if batsmen will find a way out,” he offered. 

In the Capt K Thimmappiah Memorial tournament, Cariappa roared back into form with 25 wickets. A successful Karnataka Premier League further lifted his morale. With 10 wickets at an economy of 5.02 from 11 games, Cariappa played a key role in Karnataka’s title-winning run at the Syed Mushtaq Ali tournament. A touch of luck complemented Cariappa’s hard work. 

“I made my State debut because K Gowtham got injured. Skipper Manish Pandey had great faith in me and I am happy I had a great time in the tournament,” he said. 

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