Dinesh Karthik is ready "to really take ownership of the [Kolkata] Knight Riders set-up and back his judgement", while Shubman Gill will be part of the team's leadership group "at least in some capacity", according to Brendon McCullum, the two-time IPL-winning franchise's head coach.

Karthik, who has been captain of the team for the past couple of seasons, and Eoin Morgan, the England white-ball captain, are the natural frontmen of the team, with the likes of Andre Russell and Pat Cummins among the senior players around, but McCullum has identified 20-year-old Gill as someone the team can "lean on for some leadership throughout this season".

"What a talent, and what a good guy as well," McCullum, who is currently at the CPL as head coach of Trinbago Knight Riders, said in an interview with kkr.in. "He is going to be a part of our leadership group this year as well, at least in some capacity. Even though he is young, I am a big believer that it's not necessarily true that you having played for a long time makes you a good leader. It's about you exhibiting the behaviours of a leader.

"We've obviously already got the likes of Andre Russell and Sunil Narine, but to have added Pat Cummins and Eoin Morgan in particular to that leadership group, and also provide him behind the scenes with some support staff who will be able to assist DK as well" Brendon McCullum

"It's always good to have a cross-section of leadership within your group. To us, Shubman is one of those guys we would look to lean on for some leadership throughout this season."

Under Karthik, who took over in 2018 after Gautam Gambhir had led the team to two titles, Knight Riders made the playoffs in 2018 but finished just outside the top four, at No. 5 in 2019.

Asked what about Karthik has stood out for him, McCullum said, "You've got to break DK down a little bit into different parts to understand this. I think first and foremost, wicketkeeping. He's up there with the very best wicketkeepers in India. Then you move on to his batting and he's as good and as adaptable in any role. He doesn't come with perhaps, the stardom that some guys do and that's just DK's personality. But he's a big star within the KKR franchise, he's now been at the helm for a couple of years and he's had some success.

"The team hasn't quite got over the line, but I think DK is in that stage in his leadership where he's almost ready to really mature and to really take ownership of the Knight Riders set-up and back his judgement. What we tried to do throughout the auction process as well was to provide him with some strong leadership on the field. We've obviously already got the likes of Andre Russell and Sunil Narine, but to have added Pat Cummins and Eoin Morgan in particular to that leadership group, and also provide him behind the scenes with some support staff who will be able to assist DK as well.

"I think there'll be a nice layer of leadership around DK where he's able to really prosper and touch all of the members of the Kolkata line up to try and get the very best out of themselves. I love DK as a person. He's quite intense at times which I love, we just need to provide him with some support. His passion for the game and his love of people is just infectious."

Morgan, meanwhile, is one of the players who might miss the first few games for Knight Riders, as he will reach the UAE - the team's base is likely to be Abu Dhabi - only after England's home white-ball series against Australia. That ends on September 16, just three days before the start of IPL 2020, but Morgan, as well as the others, would need to serve the mandatory quarantine in the UAE upon arrival too.

"Some years back (2012), we played with each other at KKR and that relationship and that friendship really took off right from the word go. We like the same sorts of things - we enjoy playing golf, we enjoy horse racing...," McCullum said. "I think we're very similar kinds of people, to be honest. We love the game, and we play it for the camaraderie, the friendships, the experiences that it gives you for the rest of your life. We don't necessarily play it just for that moment.

"Eoin has been nothing short of inspirational in what he's been able to achieve in the last four-four-and-a-half years with England.

"Let's not forget, he's an Irishman. And for an Irishman to have left home at the age that he did, to have taken the plunge and said 'I want to go and further my career and make a real fist of this' to now becoming the England captain, and a world cup winning captain at that - just phenomenal. I think he's the perfect foil for DK as a vice-captain. It's a match made in heaven in regards to an IPL franchise. You've got that overseas experience and leadership and you've got the local leader. I think it's a really nice mix."