IPL 2022: Royals captain Sanju Samson needs to show more consistency

Kolkata Knight Riders will not enjoy a decisive advantage against Rajasthan Royals in tonight’s clash, writes Ayaz Memon

By Ayaz Memon

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Sanju Samson with Gujarat Titans captain Hardik Pandya. (BCCI)
Sanju Samson with Gujarat Titans captain Hardik Pandya. (BCCI)

Published: Mon 18 Apr 2022, 1:08 AM

Both these high-flying teams had their wings clipped last week. The Rajasthan Royals were tamed by a more resourceful and focused Gujarat Titans for whom all-rounder and captain, Hardik Pandya, played a stellar role, while the Kolkata Knight Riders were eclipsed by the rejuvenated Sunrisers Hyderabad in all departments of the game.

Rajasthan have been a delightful team to watch, hugely talented, aggressive and exuberant, but, also with a propensity to lose their way for no good reason. In their last match, the bowling let the Titans off the hook after claiming the three top-order batsmen fairly early and were left chasing 193 to win.

Pandya’s virtuosity with the bat cannot be denied. The GT captain was brilliant, but the Royals also allowed too many runs to Abhinav Manohar and then David Miller, the latter slamming 31 off just 14 deliveries to give his team a massive psychological advantage going into the innings break.

Without Trent Boult, RR’s bowling lacked edge. On the day, even spin maestros Ravichandran Ashwin and Yuzvendra Chahal failed to find their top gear, which allowed the Titans innings to flourish under Pandya and some others.

To overhaul such a huge score, RR needed all their big guns to fire. Only Jos Buttler showed the spark with a quick-fire half-century. After he was dismissed, the onus fell on skipper Sanju Samson who fell for just 11 and the innings went into decline from there, despite Shimron Hetmyer’s cameo.

Against KKR, which also boasts a strong bowling line-up, RR’s batting will face a big test. It can be overly dependent on Buttler and Hetmyer who have played some rousing knocks. Samson needs to show more consistency and the RR fans will also be hoping for a big knock from the hugely talented Devdutt Padikkal.

Likewise, the bowling can’t be heavily dependent on Boult and Chahal, the side’s leading wicket-takers. Young Indian pacers Prasidh Krishna and Kuldeep Sen must ensure that their progress chart is going upwards. Ashwin also needs to step up a couple of notches.

However, all this does not mean that KKR enjoy a decisive advantage in tonight’s clash. If anything, the Knights showed surprisingly shallow form in their previous match which RR can exploit.

The batting lacks cohesive effort. Against Hyderabad, it was Nitish Rana, in earlier matches, it was Andre Russell, Venkatesh Iyer or Pat Cummins. This is not sufficient to win consistently. KKR need more runs from those at the top, especially captain Shreyas Iyer.

Perhaps what’s more important to see is whether their bowling has recovered after the mauling from Sunrisers’ Rahul Tripathi. KKR’s attack boasting Cummins, Umesh Yadav, Sunil Narine, Varun Chakravarthy and Russell was considered among the most potent in the tournament, but Tripathi took it apart in his buccaneering knock.

Both teams are currently level on points, KKR trailing the Royals by a couple of places because of a marginally inferior Net Run Rate. As the league approaches the mid-way mark, every win becomes important and every match will be a scrap.

Ayaz Memon is an Indian sports writer and commentator

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