Kolkata Knight Riders haven’t excelled at their gameplan or on-field strategy this season. Fallacious choice of players at the mega auction has added to their woes. Individual brilliance has often fetched them a victory but the team lacks
cohesion which has largely been responsible for KKR to languish at seventh place in the standings.
Consider Saturday’s game against Hardik Pandya’s Gujarat Titans at the DY Patil Stadium in Mumbai. Andre Russell put in a superlative show grabbing four wickets in the last over which restricted the Titans to 156. Then he almost rescued a faltering chase with 48 off 25 balls but that was not good enough.
With 12 needed off four balls after his departure, the Knights fell short by eight runs. KKR have now lost four matches on the trot, and need a dramatic swing in fortunes to take them to the playoffs.
Eight matches into the tournament, KKR do not have a settled opening pair. Last season’s find Venkatesh Iyer has been needlessly dropped to No.6 and this lack of clarity on his role has shown in his batting.
Wicketkeeper Sheldon Jackson’s failure with the bat prompted the think-tank to include Sam Billings against the Titans. This meant Aaron Finch couldn’t be accommodated in the XI and it was imperative that Venkatesh should open. Instead, the decision to open with Billings flopped.
KKR never got the desired start, putting undue pressure on the middle order once Shreyas Iyer was dismissed cheaply. The likes of Nitish Rana and Rinku Singh have not been known to play a match-winning innings.
Given the circumstances, it also didn’t make much sense to push the young Shivam Mavi ahead of Tim Southee in the batting order.
Like their batters, KKR’s bowlers haven’t been at their best except perhaps the consistent Sunil Narine and to some extent Southee.
The biggest disappointment has been Varun Chakravarthy. With four wickets in eight matches, the mystery spinner has an economy of 8.82. It’s too early to comment if Chakravarthy has been sorted out by the batters, but KKR will want him to remain an enigma.
Russell bowled a magical last over of the Titans innings on Saturday. Four wickets fell with three of them caught on the big boundary ropes by Rinku and the fourth was a diving caught and bowled dismissal. The last five overs yielded 29 runs with only five coming off the last.