Recast poser for KKR in Karthik’s test
Dinesh Karthik faces a huge challenge as captain of Kolkata Knight Riders when they take on Chennai Super Kings in Abu Dhabi on Wednesday.
The star-studded team has run into trouble early in the IPL after a series of inconsistent performances that saw them losing two of their four matches so far. What has really set the alarm bells ringing is the inability of the top-order to fire and the captain’s miserable batting form.
Karthik has so far accumulated 37 runs from four matches and his inability to push the scoring rate has resulted in lack of momentum in the middle stages of the innings.
The failure of Sunil Narine as an opener has also raised questions about his continuance in the role. He has looked woefully out of sorts against the short ball, managing only 27 runs from four matches at a stroke rate of 87.09.
Narine has also failed to make an impact with the ball and that is affecting his batting. With Kuldeep Yadav too struggling, KKR will not risk dropping Narine but will need to rework their batting strategy.
An option could be opening the innings with Rahul Tripathi but Eoin Morgan definitely needs to bat higher up the order. England’s World Cup-winning captain has already proved he is capable of stepping up the tempo when needed.
Karthik will have to decide if he wants to continue in the middle-order or take the finisher’s role, which he is known to excel at. If Nitish Rana, who has been among runs in the last match, continues at No.3, Andre Russell and Morgan can follow to provide the much-needed momentum.
If KKR can sort out their batting order, they will look an entirely different unit who are capable of staying in the race for the playoffs.
CSK come into the contest after a confidence-boosting 10-wicket win over Kings XI Punjab. But head coach Stephen Fleming pointed out that the record-breaking opening stand between Faf du Plessis and Shane Watson did mask out certain deficiencies. They need to be alert on the field after dropping catches.
The two openers put on a 181-run unbroken stand but will face a sterner test against Pat Cummins who has looked penetrative. Youngsters Shivam Mavi and Kamlesh Nagarkoti are also capable of troubling an experienced CSK line-up with pace and variety.
The mid-table fight for the playoff berths is likely to be pretty close this season and the sooner teams regain their touch the better for them.