Kolkata Knight Riders have had an average season so far with multiple problems with their batting and bowling, which have restricted their success in IPL 2020. In spite of handing over the captaincy to Eoin Morgan, they endured a crushing defeat from Mumbai Indians in their last match.
Sitting on the 4th place on the points table, KKR have definitely pulled off one of the best heists this season by winning 4 games in spite of their inexcusable bad form. In fact, looking at the points table, it cannot be said that they have performed below-par - just an average team winning 4 out of 8 matches. However, taking a closer look at the numbers and their team, this perspective quickly turns negative and all we are left with is the question that how can a team that has got so many problems win?
Starting from the top, their opening combination looks like a recipe for disaster. After finally removing ‘Sunil Narine - the batsman’ from the opening slot, it felt like KKR found the right answer with Rahul Tripathi, who scored a match-winning 81 in his first match opening for the Kolkata-based franchise. However, KKR had other plans as they sent Tripathi down the order again and trusted Tom Banton, just after he failed to them a good start in one match against KXIP, getting out early on 4. Then, in the last match, he was again trusted to open after Banton’s failure, but he got out early on 7. How can a batsman perform with a change in role in every other match?
The other opener, Shubman Gill, who is regarded as the next big thing in Indian cricket, has been playing the wrong format of cricket, scoring with a strike rate of 116.52. While it should be taken into consideration that he is not an explosive batsman and he has been given the role to anchor the whole innings, he should at least play at a strike rate that is better than what it is now. He has to take up the responsibility to set the tone of the innings.
After their opening slot mess, comes their brittle middle order that has to be rescued by Pat Cummins. At number 3 they have Nitish Rana, who has been hitting the ball well but has failed to convert his starts into big runs for the team - paving way for Dinesh Karthik, who has had a horrific season at best, scoring just one fifty in 8 matches. Then, they do have Eoin Morgan, who has taken over the captaincy reign from Karthik, along with Andre Russell to finish the innings but they have rarely done so which brings us to Pat Cummins, whose unbeaten 53 in the last match was a good example of the pattern followed by the KKR batting lineup. It does not make sense to not have your best batsmen playing most of the deliveries.
Coming to Cummins, so far, he has taken just 2 wickets in 8 matches at an economy of close to 9. KKR seem to be in a conundrum with him as they can’t afford to drop him and from the looks of it, it doesn’t look like he is coming back to form as anytime soon. Hence, they are using the most expensive buy, Cummins, as a batsman because he can’t seem to bowl properly. Now that we are on bowling, KKR are adamant to discover another Narine to sail their ship to the trophy with the West Indian struggling to keep his action legal along with the same danger. Buying Varun Chakravarthy for a price of 4 crores was their failed attempt at the same and it doesn’t look like it is going to pay dividends anytime soon.
They even got Chris Green to do the same role for them that Narine did for them in the trophy-winning 2012 and 2014 campaigns but again their bet hasn’t paid off. They just want to imitate their successful run of the past, but that has resulted in them having to remove their captain mid-season. Hence, this approach of KKR will most probably not end in a trophy and they will have to change their approach to get their hands on any silverware.