Walking on the Tightrope: KKR Mid-Season Review

The Kolkata Knight Riders are one of the most successful franchises in IPL history. But how did they fare in this season?

They have fared decently in this IPL currently at the 4th place but with a negative net run rate of -0.39 in this season. The two-time title-winning side has a proportional share of positives and negatives this season. Let us analyse what are the negatives and positives 

Opening:

The Knight Riders have tried out three combinations in seven games. At first, they had Sunil Narine open the innings and after successive failures, KKR promoted Rahul Tripathi to open the batting against CSK after an impressive performance against DC. The move seemed to have paid off for Knight Riders as Tripathi scored a sensational knock of 80. But then, once again KKR chopped Tripathi from opening the batting after failing against KXIP. This time, it was the England batsman, Tom Banton who failed to capitalise his opportunity against RCB.

(Image Source: iplt20 | Twitter)

They also have failed to convert starts and make them into a massive one. These are the scores of KKR for the 1st wicket :

  • Against MI – 14 runs in 2.4 overs
  • Against KKR-  6 runs in 1.2 overs
  • Against RR- 36 runs in 4.5 overs
  • Against DC- 8 runs in 1.2 overs
  • Against CSK- 37 runs in 4.2 overs
  • Against KXIP- 12 runs in 2.4 overs
  • Against RCB- 23 runs in 4 overs

Shubman Gill’s consistent run:

While many players have been tried in the opening slot, Shubman Gill has lived up to the expectations of KKR. He has been very impressive for the Knight Riders this year having scored 254 runs in the seven games he played at an average of 42.33.

(Image Source: iplt20 | Twitter)

He also scored a fine 70 against the Sunrisers Hyderabad in testing conditions facing the likes of Rashid Khan and Bhuvneshwar Kumar. Gill, this year has some great starts for the Knight Riders. His form will be very crucial for KKR to have a chance in lifting their third IPL trophy. If KKR finds a solution to the other opening batsman dilemma, they could have a great chance of winning matches.

Chopping approach at the middle order:

KKR haven’t found a settled combination at the middle order yet which cost them a lot of matches. For the first match, Dinesh Karthik was sent at No.3 and Nitish Rana came after him at No. 4. Then in a match against DC, bowling all-rounder Pat Cummins was sent ahead of an opening batsman, Rahul Tripathi. Sunil Narine was sent at No. 4 against CSK, who is basically a pinch hitter who explodes only during the power play overs while finishers like Morgan, Karthik and Russell came down the order. Decisions like these had a huge impact on the game. In the latter part of the tournament, they’ll hope to find s settled combination in the middle order. 

Finisher Morgan:

When the middle order choked, there was one guy who came to the rescue. It was the England captain, Eoin Morgan who stood like a rock, to somehow manage to score a competitive total. The best example was against DC and RR, where the middle order completely collapsed, he was able to rescue from that collapse. Though KKR couldn’t win against DC, they at least came very close to the target under a crisis. Against SRH too, Morgan negotiated the Afghan spin twins, Nabi and Rashid incredibly well. It could be well said that KKR had bought a reliable finisher.

 Misfiring Andre Russell:

Last year, Russell went berserk with the bat scoring over 500 runs coming in at No. 6 or No. 7. It was an insane year for him but what about this year? Russell has been highly inconsistent with the bat this way round. He has just scored 71 runs this season at an average of just 11.83!!!! His strike rate too has not been up to his standards. These are stats you won’t expect for a player of Russell’s calibre.

(Image Source: iplt20 | Twitter)

Russell would love to improve his game and hopefully score more runs for the KKR. With the ball, he has been quite okayish. Though he is KKR’s leading wicket-taker this season, he has conceded over 9 runs per over 

Hit or miss pace attack 

The Knight Riders’ pacers have been a hit or miss pace attack. With an attack that boasts of Pat Cummins, Shivam Mavi, Prasidh Krishna and Kamlesh Nagarkoti, KKR hasn’t put up consistent performances for their side.

(Image Source: iplt20 | Twitter)

Has Pat Cummins justified his price tag of 15.5 crores? The answer is a definite no, but yes Cummins has provided some crucial breakthroughs such as Steve Smith and Johnny Bairstow against RR and SRH respectively but he couldn’t manage to do so at a consistent rate. Cummins’ form will be very crucial in the second half of the tournament.

Impressive spin attack

The spinners have been quite sensational for the Knight Riders in many matches. The spin wizard from Tamil Nadu, Varun Chakravarti who was highly criticised for not justifying his price tag redeemed himself this season. The spinner has been essential for the Knight Riders in providing key breakthroughs. He had dismissed David Warner who was setting up for a fine half-century. And against CSK he dismissed MS Dhoni for a paltry score bowling at the death overs.

(Image Source: iplt20 | Twitter)

Bowling in tandem was Sunil Narine, who was looking rusty in the first few matches but soon was able to return to form. He too was essential for the Riders in providing some important wickets as he did against CSK dismissing a well set Shane Watson. But however due to a ‘throwing’ allegation, Sunil Narine was forced to sit out against an important clash against RCB. 

KKR’s journey has been like a roller coaster half way through this season. They’ve either lost comprehensively or won the match against all odds. If they could address these issues, KKR can have a real chance of winning the trophy. But the important question lies here- Will Sunil Narine be able to clear the chucking accusations? Otherwise KKR have lost their main gun for the rest of the tournament. KKR now comfortably sit at 4th place with 4 wins and 3 losses, will they be able to gain their momentum and make it into the top 2? 

Questions to be answered:

  1. Will KKR find a settled combination in both opening and the middle order? 
  2. Will Pat Cummins be able to justify his price tag? 
  3. Can Russell come back from this disastrous first half? 
  4. Should they give Tripathi some more chances to open the innings?

Featured Image: kkriders | Instagram

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