A lot was expected from Kolkata Knight Riders before the start of IPL6 but the defending champions have not been able to live up to the expectations and they have only managed to win 5 games out of 13, so far. The same team played some magical cricket last season and won the tournament, when many were not expecting them to win. They had a team well suited to their home conditions and Gautham Gambhir lead the team his team brilliantly. This year, there is no big change in their squad or even coaching staff but because of few tactical reasons the team hasn’t been able to perform well, at all.
After following KKR for 13 matches this season, I have realized that “right replacement” is one of the most important aspects of IPL. In this year’s auction, KKR was very quiet and did not spend much thinking they won last year with the same team and this year will be no different and this is where they missed the trick. KKR’s batting line up is a heavy one with the likes of Gambhir, Kallis, McCullum, Yusuf and Manoj Tiwary but if you look at the contributions made by these batsmen, apart from Gambhir and Kallis, all the others have been inconsistent and the big hitting Yusuf struggled big time last year and is still struggling in this year’s IPL.
DID NOT INVEST MUCH IN THIS YEAR’s AUCTION:
The think tank of KKR should have searched for the right replacement for the struggling middle order in the auction and got in 1 or maybe 2 batsmen to make the batting order more flexible and reliable. In most of the matches, KKR relies heavily on Yusuf Pathan to score quick runs, up the tempo and give momentum to the innings, but Yusuf has not been able to do this job for them, so far.
CSK is the best example of how to prepare for the auctions and invest in such a way that the replacement is always ready. CSK despite of being the strongest side in the tournament invested some more money in the auction and got players who can fit in their line up and make it even more effective and flexible. CSK bought Morris, who is a bowling all rounder and can make up if Albie Morkel is injured or out of form. They also invested heavily in their fast bowling because they suffered because of the same in the last season and they bought Dirk Nannes and Jason Holder to do the job. By making these investments they made sure that no spot is left empty and the replacement is always ready. On the contrary, KKR did not invest anything to improve the weak areas in their batting and bowling department. Brett Lee is the only fast bowler in the KKR line up, who can bend his back and generate pace but he has been given the role of bowling mentor by the owners and we see him sitting in the dugout these days. The importance of fast bowler cannot be undermined even if the pitch is slow and low because for a young domestic lad, facing anything over 140+ will always be a challenging task and also, fast bowlers are the preferred “go to” option in the death overs. KKR has struggled in their death bowling this season and the lack of fast bowling is one of main reasons for this. Gambhir relies heavily on Sunil Narine to bowl 2 or even 3 of the last 6 overs and in all fairness, Narine delivers too, but the rest of the 3-4 overs spoil it for them.
So, the number 4 to 7 spot in the batting line up and quality fast bowler(s) are the two areas where the think tank of KKR should invest for the next season. This is a rich man’s game and to compete well, one has to invest and upgrade his resources from time to time.
GAMBHIR’s DEFENSIVE CAPTAINCY:
Eden Gardens produced very slow and low wickets last year and we saw many low scoring matches there and Gambhir rotated his bowlers brilliantly while defending and the likes of Kallis and Gambhir himself felt more comfortable while chasing these low targets. These low scoring games had a direct impact on Gautham Gambhir’s captaincy and he became a captain who is good only in the low scoring matches, where the target is somewhere between 140-145. KKR’s record outside home is very poor this season and every time opposition team scores above 165, KKR becomes very vulnerable.
RIGHT WAY FORWARD:
KKR should to invest more money in the next year, if they want to improve their team and stay in the top 4 places and they need to build a team, which can win away matches as well. It’s an IPL cliché now, but they must learn from CSK because they have similar home conditions but still CSK is a champion team in the away matches as well.