The limelight may be on Gautam Gambhir and Shah Rukh Khan as Kolkata Knight Riders win their third IPL title, defeating the Sunrisers Hyderabad. Sunil Narine and Andre Russell are being hailed, as expected. Mitchell Starc has come good on the big occasion. Chandrakant Pandit becomes the first man to win the IPL and the Ranji Trophy as a head coach. But as KKR celebrated on Sunday night, some players made sure that one unsung hero also received due credit. The man in question? Assistant coach Abhishek Nayar.

While being interviewed by Harsha Bhogle after KKR won the 2024 IPL Final, Varun Chakravarthy and Venkatesh Iyer spoke highly about the role played by Abhishek Nayar in orchestrating their success.

“All I can think of right now is the person who built this Indian core. The main guy behind this is Abhishek Nayar,” said Chakravarthy.

And what an Indian core it has been. Chakravarthy picked up 21 wickets. Harshit Rana and Vaibhav Arora got 19 and 11 wickets, respectively. Venkatesh Iyer scored 370 runs. Teenage talent Angkrish Raghuvanshi scored fifty on debut. Ramandeep Singh was a revelation lower down the order, adding vital runs and impressing on the field.

Venkatesh Iyer, who scored a 26-ball 52 in the IPL Final, added to the praise. “Abhishek Nayar deserves all the credit in the world. Some of his contributions go unnoticed, I want to make sure it doesn’t,” he said. Iyer was retained by KKR before the previous mega auction, in favour of Shubman Gill, a symbol of the faith shown by Nayar.

Abhishek Nayar has also played a significant role in developing the young Indian core that KKR has banked on. Apart from being the assistant coach, he has also been the mentor and head coach of the KKR Academy. One such starlet he’s seen rise is 18-year-old Angkrish Raghuvanshi. His father Avneesh thanked Nayar on Instagram.

“Dear Abhishek Nayar sir. Your first words to us were “I want to make Angkrish a good human and then a cricketer”… seems like a plan on track,” he wrote.

While Gambhir and the rest of the star-studded KKR backroom gets richly-deserved credit, the players have made sure that even unsung heroes like Nayar get their flowers.

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