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Exclusive interview: The whole KKR franchise is like a family to me, says young bowler Kamlesh Nagarkoti

On May 4, the Board of Cricket Control of India took an unianimous decision of suspending the fourteenth edition of the cash rich T20 tournament i.e., the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2021 as many players, support staff and head coaches of different franchises started testing positive for COVID-19 even after staying in stringent bio-bubbles. It was Varun Chakravarthy who first tested positive for COVID and this led to the postponing  of the match between Kolkata Knight Riders and the Royal Challengers Bangalore. While apart from Chackravarthy, another player from the same team, Sandeep Warrier also tested positive. And on the next day, Delhi Capital's legendary bowler, Amit Mishra along with Sunriser's Wridhiman Saha also tested positive for the virus. 

Meanwhile, the BCCI president Sourav Ganguly that it is difficult to say as to how the bio-bubbles were breached but the possibility of travelling between the cities and the use of airports could have been a major reason of players getting the virus. 

 Kamlesh Nagarkoti, the right arm fast bowler, who plays for the Kolkata Knight riders and was also a part of the Under 19 Indian Cricket Team. He made his debut for Rajasthan in the 2016 Vijay Hazare Trophy. In 2019, he took the first ever hatrick in first class cricket for the same team in the same tournament against Gujarat. Last year Kamlesh made his IPL debut for the Kolkata Knight Riders and took 5 wickets in the 11 matches that he has played till now with an economy rate of 9.14. The young bowler got candid in an interview with The Social Talk and he explained about what the situation was after the suspension of this year's IPL, who gets along really well with etc. Below are the excerpts of the interview:

Q: What's your favourite bowl to bowl?

Kamlesh: I am a fast bowler, so I like bowling fast. I can bowl at a speed of 150 km/hr. Though there are people who won't believe this since the kind of physique that I have (he is very thin). 

Q: If there was a movie made on your life, which actor do you think would play your role the best? You can't choose Shah Rukh Khan (since he is the owner of KKR). You have to choose another actor!

Kamlesh: I haven't really thought about this much but if I really have to choose someone apart from him I guess Tiger Shroff because he is one of the fittest actors in the film industry.

Q: What is the one Bengali dish that you have loved eating or discovered while playing for KKR?

Kamlesh: Mishti Doi and Roshugulla.

Q: What piece of advice would you like to give to the next, young bunch of Under-19 world cup players?

Kamlesh: I would like to tell them to just be themselves when go out on the field and just express themselves freel. Don't think much about the consequences and just play free and good cricket. Just be in the moment and enjoy every bit of it. 

Q: If given a chance, what superpower would you like to choose?

Kamlesh: I like Superman a lot, so I think I would chose flying. 

Q: If given a chance, what would you choose between the two- playing between the World Test Championship final or playing in the World T20 final?

Kamlesh: I would love to play in the World Test Championship final, since I've already been a part of the Under-19 World Cup Final and I always wanted to play a test match for India as it is Test Matches are still considered the most premium form of cricket.

Q: If you could ask Sachin Tendulkar any question which he had to answer, what would it be?

Kamlesh: Firstly, since he also tested positive for COVID-19, I would like to ask him that how is he doing now even though he has recovered fully. And, secondly, I would ask him that what was going on in his mind when he scored his hundredth century in international cricket. 

Q: If you had to teach a Hindi word to any of the overseas players from the KKR squad, what word would it be and which player would you choose?

Kamlesh: Well, in the past we did try to teach Hindi to some of the players which include the likes of Andre Rusell and Sunil Narine. But I would like to teach Hindi to our captain Eoin Morgan and Pat Cummins. And the words which I will teach them are the basic ones such as Chappal (slippers), Jhaadu (broom) etc. 

Q: What app do you use the most in your phone?

Kamlesh: Instagram and Facebook

Q: Between You and Pat Cummins, who do you think has more number of followers on Instagram?

Kamlesh: Obviously, Pat Cummins has more followers on Instagram but I wish I had more than him!

Q: Pat Cummins recently started his youtube channel. Have you watched any of the videos? And also, have you subscribed to his channel?

Kamlesh: Yes, I have subscribed to his channel. I had to, since he is a really good friend of mine. And yes, I have watched both the videos that he posted and I really liked it!

Q: Who do you get along really well from the KKR team?

Kamlesh: I think I get along really well with all the team members. Me, Shubhman Gill and Shivam Mavi have known each other since the Under-19 days. I also get along really well with DK Bhaiya, Eoin Morgan, Nitish Rana, Rahul Tripathi and Pat Cummins. Pat is like an elder brother to me. Whenever I meet him during the IPL I get to learn a lot from both profesionally and personally. He is my partner in crime. He is my pop-corn partner, as we both like eating pop-corn a lot! Its really fun to hangout with Pat. He was the one who gave me my jersey before i made my T20 debut for KKR last year in UAE.  The whole KKR franchise is like a family to me. 

Q: The Ipl got suspended midway through the season as several players including your team-mates tested positive for COVID-19. Do you think that suspending the tournament was the right decision?

Kamlesh: Just like the fans, even we were disappointed with the league being suspended in the middle, but I think we respect the Board's decision since the safety of the players health had always been the top priority for them. I mean I was aware of the backlash the IPL was getting on social media as many people died in the second wave of the pandemic, but all we ever wanted to do was to bring smile on the faces of people and to give them some kind of entertainment for a few hours which would help them to cope better in these unprecedented times!

Q: There were reports which suggested that the bio-bubble was breached because Varun Chakravarthy stepped out of the bubble to get his scans done? How true is that?

Kamlesh: Its true that Varun stepped out of the team hotel, but at the same time he also followed all the COVID-19 protocols. He had stepped out to get those scans just to check that he did not sustain any injuries. I dont know why people started accusing him on social media that because of him the tournament got suspended. It could have happened to anyone. Since he was the first case to be detected in the middle of the season, maybe thats why! But its really unfortunate that people trolled him even in such hard and difficult times!

Q: KKR did not have as good a season as it was expected this year, especially keeping in mind that the team had good players from around the world and also that you had low budget this year at the auction. What do you think went wrong in this season?

Kamlesh: The pitches in Chennai were not at all batter-friendly to say the least. We are a bunch of talented players from all around the world and we tried our best as we could. We trained hard everyday but I think we lacked in execution. But hopefully when the second phase begins, things will turn around for us and will work for us. I can assure you, that we have learned from our past mistakes and would try to improve ourselves and win the remaining seven matches since thats how we will qualify in the playoffs.

Q: There were reports which suggested that the second half of the season would take place in either England or UAE and that too in the month of September or November. So how are you preparing for the second half?

Kamlesh: Well, I just wish that the tournament resumes soon. I hope that the tournament takes place, if it is going to resume in Septemver, then it should be held in Dubai or UAE, just like last year and not in England since the monsoon weather starts there in September and due to that the matches would probably gets delayed or abandoned if it rains on the match day. And this would lead to huge losses for the board. And the pitches are dry in Dubai during that time so it would be a viable option.

Q: Do you think that after playing seven matches in the tournament and winning just two of them, KKR still can qualify for playoffs in the second half of the season?

Kamlesh: As I said earlier, we have learned from our past mistakes and we would try and win every match. In 2014 also the team was in a similar position and then after 7 games we went on to win the tournament. So, who knows we might as well win this year's tournament as they say that history repeats itself!

Q: There were reports which suggested that there was chaos in all the team hotels and in all the franchises after the suspension of the tournament midway. What was the atmosphere like in the KKR franchise and the team hotel since many of the team players tested positive? Were the overseas players panicing in the KKR squad as well?

Kamlesh: When the results of Varun and Sandeep came out to be positive, they immediately isolated themselves onto the other floor. The team doctors were in constant touch with them. Our owner, Mr. Shah Rukh khan and our Ceo Mr. Vemky Mysore did a video call with us to take stock of the things and to ensure that everything will be fine and checked on each one of us. And as far as the atmosphere is concerned, it was a little better from the other teams. The overseas players were a little anxious as to how they will get back to their homes since the travel restrictions for travellers coming from India were put in almost all the countries in order to curb the spread of COVID-19 in their own countries. But at the end of the day, they knew that the franchise and the BCCI board was well equipped to solve the issue. We were worried about our families as well but it was not that difficult for us sonce there was no restriction on inter-state travel. We also kept a check on Varun as we were constanly in touich with him through video call and ensured him that he was not alone in this. 

Q: Who do you think is going to win the WTC finals which will be held in the month of June?

Kamlesh: New Zealand is a strong team but I think India will win this match!

Q: Now, that the tournament is suspended, how are you spending the days and have you taken the vaccine?

Kamlesh: I am spending quality time with my family. I missed my dog the most, when I was away for the IPL. His name is Oskar. And I am also trying to help people around me who has been affected by the deadly virus in whatever capacity I can. No, I haven't taken the vaccine, but as soon as the slots are available I will take it. And I also would like to urge evryone to take the vaccine since this is the only solution to fight this virus.

Q: What message would you like to give your fans who were left heartbroken after the suspension of the tournament?

Kamlesh: I would urge everyone firstly to stay safe, stay at home, wash your hands frequently with a hand sanitiser, maintain social distancing and when you are stepping out of the house, please wear a mask. And we will be back soon so until then they can watch the old KKR match highlights and have a good time! 

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