The Kolkata Knight Riders have their back to the wall, and to move forward overcoming the challenges, they would need a lot of corrective measures. They will be desperate to find their way out of a maze of defeats — five back-to-back losses to be precise — when they face Rajasthan Royals in Mumbai on Monday.
Shreyas Iyer’s Knights had begun the season well with three wins from their first four matches. But then they tied themselves up in knots and fell face first in the following games.
What ails the Knights? Well, primarily it is the failure of their star players, ones on whom they depended heavily, which has left them with an extremely steep climb in their remaining games of IPL 2022.
Venkatesh Iyer hasn’t had even half the impact he had last season, Varun Chakravarthy has somehow forgotten how to take wickets and Pat Cummins is not even finding a place in the playing XI. How will the Knights win?
The form of Venkatesh has played a big role in why the Knights have had to make frequent changes to their playing XI. Last season, the all-rounder who bats left-handed, was almost unstoppable as an opener. His performance even earned him a place in the Indian team. He looks terribly out of form this time and though the team has tried him at different batting positions, Venkatesh has not managed to find his feet.
Mystery spinner Chakravarthy’s loss of form is no less a mystery. The Knights retained him ahead of the auctions expecting him to do wonders with the ball. But the team has been left wondering whether to keep Chakravarthy in the playing XI at all. His combination with Sunil Narine, who has been terrific this season with his miserly spells, was supposed to have won the Knights matches, but the reality is something else.
Cummins too hasn’t found his rhythm this time. His only notable contribution this IPL season hasn’t come with the ball, rather it was an explosive innings with the bat. But that is not why the Knights paid millions of dollars for the Australian.
Captain Shreyas has been the lone consistent bat for last season’s runner-ups, while Umesh Yadav and Narine have been effective with the ball. All-rounder Andre Russell’s form, however, continues to play hide and seek.
It will be interesting to see what opening combination the Knights employ on Monday. Will it be Aaron Finch and Venkatesh again, or will we see another new combination? More importantly, not just their opening pair, the Knights will have to get their overall team combination right to affect a turnaround.
In such a scenario, playing against the Royals, who have been steady with a top-four position in the standings so far this year, will certainly not be an easy task for the Knights.
The Royals have lost only three of their nine games thus far, with their third loss coming in their last game, against Mumbai Indians. Perhaps, that might provide the Knights with a window to launch an all-out attack on Sanju Samson’s team.
But there is no way the Royals can be taken lightly. Jos Buttler has single-handedly won them games with his bat, while Yuzvendra Chahal has done so with the ball.