Kolkata Knight Riders set out to find new luck in the Middle East

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17 Sep 2021 | 06:46 AM
authorAakash Sivasubramaniam

Kolkata Knight Riders set out to find new luck in the Middle East

Reeling away at seventh place, KKR had to endure a tough start to the 2021 edition of IPL but is there light, at the end of the tunnel?

Sunrisers Hyderabad and Kolkata Knight Riders – perhaps are the only two sides, who would wanted to catch a breather after the suspension of 2021 IPL. Two sides, that find themselves lingering at the bottom of the table have plenty of issues in their playing XI, both with their personnel and with their combination. 

However, can this break spring about a new fortune to their season and help them get out of the grave that they found themselves early in the season? That’s certainly a far-fetched question for us to answer but with Pat Cummins pulling himself out of the remainder of the competition, Kolkata have more than one aspect of the pitch to cover. 

Strengths

Andre Russell's form could be game-changer for KKR 

Oh, we might have some issues here. While having the most talented of squads out there (on paper), KKR’s performance will need more than a push on all ends, where they really haven’t stepped on the peddle. That weirdly leaves them with no real strength but they would be hopeful that Andre Russell could step up his game in the remainder of the season, after his Caribbean Premier League exploits.

Threats

Kolkata find themselves in a territory that they know the best – neither was their batting nor was their bowling anywhere on the top of the list, which makes them home to mediocrity. While Varun Chakravarthy’s breakthrough season in the 2020 edition kept them sailing, they have fallen flat in this year’s competition. 

It is not just their bowling that takes a hit. Their batting, headlined by Eoin Morgan has given the management a terrible headache in the first half of the season. After the franchise sank to their fifth loss in seven games, KKR’s head coach Brendon McCullum came out literally steaming in the press conference. 

"It's very, very disappointing. I think as a player, you ask to be given freedom and confidence and loyalty when it comes to selection, to go out there and take the game on and try and be aggressive... and to try and make things happen for your team,” he said of his batting unit but really you could apply this quote to any segment of their game.

KKR’s powerplay approach was nothing short of shambles – 309 runs in seven games at 7.4 RPO and with a strike-rate of 122.6 – is simply terrible. However, there is no real solution to this conundrum of theirs but for prayers. The uncertainty around the immediate availability of Shubman Gill only makes matters worse. 

Bowling no good eitherKKR's bowling problems don't stop with the powerplay

Kolkata’s bowling in the powerplay sort of mirrors their fortune with the bat, find themselves at seventh place in terms of performance in the powerplay. They leak runs at 8.6 RPO, the second-worst record in the league, concede 30.7 runs on average per wicket, again the second-worst. Does it get any better? Frankly not, 38 wickets are also the joint-last for wickets taken in the powerplay. 

Only Rajasthan Royals concede boundaries at fewer deliveries than the men in Purple and Gold in the competition, at 5.5 (balls/boundary). Quite fascinating but KKR’s death overs bowling makes for a good match with their powerplay troubles. Only CSK and KXIP have conceded more runs than KKR at the death, with 64.78% of their deliveries at the death being boundary balls. 

The franchise would need to find some avenue where they could put a stop to the run leak while still managing to pick up wickets at equal intervals. Where will that come from?

New Additions? 

The only addition (replacement) that the franchise has made for the remainder of competition – Tim Southee for Pat Cummins, after the all-rounder pulled himself out. The Australian pacer picked up nine wickets for the franchise, one more than Prasidh Krishna as the best bowler in Purple and Gold. 

Incidentally, his bowling average was also the second-best in the team, at 26.33, so his loss would be a big shoe to fill, to go with his 93 runs at a strike-rate of 166.1. The franchise picked the Kiwi all-rounder Tim Southee as his replacement. In the last two years, Southee has accounted for 46 wickets, averaging 24.6, with 22 of those wickets coming in the powerplay. Not quite a like-for-like replacement. 

How do they feel about the UAE? 

Last time they were in the Middle East, we saw multiple brain-fade from them, including having Rahul Tripathi at No.8! Having aced the first half of the tournament, KKR slipped in the second half, to finish fifth. It maybe haunting to relive those days but it would certainly come as a helping hand for them, with Varun Chakravarthy finding the limelight at the Emirates. However, it would also pose plenty of problems to their batsmen, who struggle evidently against spinners. 

Qualification Chances


Surely better chance than the 3%?
 

Rough sea, tough aspect but a sail that isn’t impossible. It is quite tough to expect what to expect from the franchise, especially considering with the number of X-factor players that they possess – Dinesh Karthik, Andre Russell, Varun Chakravarthy.  

Languishing at seventh place, Eoin Morgan-led KKR need more than one hand to increase the chances of qualifying to the next stage of the competition. Our Criclytics Qualification Probability meter reckons they have 3% chance to make it to the playoffs but can they beat the odds? 

Best Possible XI

Rahul Tripathi, Nitish Rana, Shubman Gill, Sunil Narine, Eoin Morgan (c), Andre Russell, Dinesh Karthik (wk), Prasidh Krishna, Lockie Ferguson, Varun Chakravarthy, Harbhajan Singh

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Kolkata Knight Riders vs Royal Challengers BangaloreIndian Premier League, 2021Kolkata Knight RidersPat CumminsAndre RussellEoin MorganBrendon McCullum

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