IPL 2021: RR coach Kumar Sangakkara all praise for young Chetan Sakariya, says ‘His courage & enthusiasm rubs off everyone’

 Rajasthan Royals’ Director of Cricket Kumar Sangakkara has seen left-arm seamer Chetan Sakariya from close quarters, and looks like the Sri Lanka legend is in awe of the character exhibited by the youngster in the first half of the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2021. In an interaction with ANI, Sangakkara opened up on how he is impressed with Sakariya, the role of Chris Morris in absence of Jos Buttler and Ben Stokes, the new bowling action of Jaydev Unadkat, and much more.

“Chetan Sakariya is brilliant, absolutely love him. His attitude, his smile, and he takes everything in his stride. The pressure does not seem to affect him. He is very confident, he knows what he is doing. He is always ready to compete, he has been through a very tough year personally and family-wise and I am just immensely impressed with him as an individual. Brilliant to have him in the side, his enthusiasm and courage rub off on everyone. He is definitely one for the long term,” said Sangakkara.

Rajasthan Royals have signed few replacement players and one of the high-profile signings has been world number one T20I bowler Tabraiz Shamsi. The left-arm Proteas spinner has been spinning a web around opponents across the globe and Sangakkara expects him to do the same when IPL 2021 season resumes.

“I am really excited about all of them (new signings), trying to fit them in properly will be the key. Shamsi has had a brilliant year, that’s the way it goes. It just depends on the openings and opportunities in the IPL. We are fortunate that at this moment, we have been able to have Shamsi. I am really looking forward to having all of them in the squad, Glenn Phillips, Oshane Thomas, and Evin Lewis. We have very specific roles in mind when the opportunity comes so that is exciting,” said Sangakkara.

Rajasthan Royals is currently at the fifth position in the IPL 2021 standings, having won three games out of seven. The side will resume their campaign against Punjab Kings on September 21 in Dubai.

“The pressure is always there, it is about breaking it down and concentrating on your task.

It is about focusing on the job and not on the pressure, that is the real key to get them motivated to play. There is motivation enough for players to play, I don’t think there is anything special that needs to be said to the players to play here in the IPL. There are many motivations, some personal and some team-wise. I just want them to play good cricket, express themselves and enjoy and stay relaxed,” he added.

When asked whether Sanju Samson’s job as a leader will be tough in the absence of Buttler and Stokes, Sangakkara said: “Sanju is very good at taking pressure, we keep things very simple and he breaks down things very well, so I think he will be fine.”

The former Sri Lanka skipper also believes that with T20 World Cup squad announcements out of the way before IPL 2021 resumption, players will not take extra pressure and they will be able to fully express themselves.

“Cannot speak for individuals, of course when you have certainty, it clears your mind so they will probably find it easier to play in the IPL rather than thinking that they would need to impress to get into the T20 World Cup squad. There will be disappointments for certain players as well but unfortunately, that is part and parcel of international cricket,” said Sangakkara.

When asked how the franchise has taken care of the mental health of players, Sangakkara said: “We are trying to provide them with every support they might need. Whether it is support in terms of having an expert in that area present to identify whether someone is going through a tough time, asking players to be very open about it, and have conversations. It is about making sure that they feel comfortable to talk about things.”

“Anything to get their mind relaxed, we have taken care of. We encourage families to join them so that they do not have to stay away from their families. Rajasthan Royals is a very family-focused franchise and we always encourage players to bring their families. We have system monitors, we track sleeping patterns, we have all sort of things in place, some provided by experts so yeah, we have gotten a very good system in place,” he added.

Lastly talking about Jaydev Unadkat and Chris Morris, Sangakkara said: “Jaydev Unadkat has been very impressive, he has had setbacks but he has come back very strong. He has worked on his speed, with wristwork and alignment so I am very excited to see what he can deliver. He seems very happy when I spoke to him today about his action and what that has brought into his game.