After an SRH batting performance, ‘powered’ by Saha, which made Murali Vijay’s knock on Friday look like a Dre-Russ cameo, KKR dusted off a target of 143 with relative ease and disdain. But there were a lot of learnings from the game, not least the ideal role for Pat Cummins in the KKR side.
The powerplay is where Pat Cummins belongs
2,320 days ago a 22-year-old Pat Cummins, on IPL debut, took the new ball for KKR and castled CSK’s Dwayne Smith on just his second delivery, in what could be termed as one of the best IPL deliveries of all time. His dismissal of Jonny Bairstow today, six years later, wasn’t quite as special, but it made something crystal clear - that in the powerplay, with the new ball, is where he belongs. Versus Mumbai, skipper DK made a blunder by bowling Cummins just once in the first six overs - which in turn hurt both the team and the pacer’s reputation - but in what was an extremely shrewd move, the Tamil Nadu man, today, utilized his talisman to perfection. DK used three overs of Patty C in the powerplay and that turned out to be a masterstroke as the right-armer, aside from skittling out Bairstow with a jaffa, conceded just 11 runs. He did so by consciously correcting his lengths and bowling in Test match areas, something he failed to do versus MI. KKR learnt quickly and they, in turn, were rewarded with a major takeaway - that Pat Cummins belongs to the powerplay.
The Sunrisers think-tank have no idea what they’re doing
In a way, the true extent of SRH’s goof-up in the auction was seen today. An injury to Vijay Shankar was enough to expose their paper-thin squad depth but their problems were magnified by some abhorrent selection. With all due respect to Wriddhiman Saha - he was once a very valuable utility in the IPL - the veteran has no business playing in the IPL in 2020; not in the middle-order, at least. His knock today was right up there as the contender for the worst innings of IPL 2020 and through his lackadaisical innings that beggared belief, Saha ensured that his side were at KKR’s mercy right from the moment he walked in. But you cannot blame the poor man, though, for, he should have never been anywhere near the starting XI in the first place. It is flabbergasting that the SRH management thought that, in a team full of accumulators, it was a good idea to play a 35-year-old who has been a liability in T20 cricket for 6 years. Are we sure that this is Trevor Bayliss’s team? SRH’s batting performance today was like a slap in the face to the legacy he’s built over the years.
Kuldeep Yadav no more a certainty in this KKR side
KKR loyalists have waited for four seasons and more to witness the ‘best’ of Kuldeep Yadav, but it might very well be possible that the wrist-spinner might exit the club without having an asserting season. For his diminishing confidence coupled with the emergence of Varun Chakravarthy spells bad news for the 25-year-old. It was telling that, today, Dinesh Karthik had more confidence on a 29-year-old rookie than he had on his supposed ‘go-to’ man Kuldeep and it was telling that a supposedly nervous Varun Chakravarthy bowled a spell superior to any of Kuldeep’s outings in his last 20 or so IPL matches. Chakravarthy, on what was a pretty decent batting wicket, brimmed with confidence and showed exquisite control - he brought out his full array of skills, including a Narine’esque carrom ball - en route a world-class spell which included the wicket of David Warner. It was a spell which felt like an official warning to Kuldeep Yadav which said “Up your game or be prepared for when Rahul Tripathi makes an inevitable entry into the side.”
Nitish Rana can be an absolute monster in the powerplay
So much has been said and spoken about the effect Sunil Narine can have for KKR in the powerplay, that it feels blasphemous to even entertain the idea of having someone else up top. But Nitish Rana’s onslaught today might have just given skipper DK the hope that he could push Narine down the order without really bringing a ‘specialist opener’ into the side. After Narine’s woes versus the short-ball were exposed yet again, Rana walked in and nonchalantly carved the SRH bowling apart, almost effortlessly. Through sheer timing, the southpaw dismantled the SRH pacers with surgical precision. His knock - 26 off 13 balls - featured six fours scattered all over the ground and, like Narine, he helped KKR maximize the powerplay, albeit through proper batting. Given the thirst for a left-right combo captains have shown this season, a Gill-Rana opening combo could be a really interesting proposition for KKR, especially given DK’s recent urge to bat higher up the order.