IPL 2021: Knight Riders hoping to rediscover their mojo

Ayaz Memon/Mumbai
Filed on April 20, 2021
Andre Russell of Kolkata Knight Riders plays a shot. (BCCI)

The Knight Riders are very strong on paper, but they have had a disappointing time so far

It’s been a contrasting journey for these teams so far in IPL 2021, the Chennai Super Kings lost their first match, but won the next two. The Kolkata Knight Riders, after winning their opening game in style, have lost the next two dismally.

Laggards last season, the three-time champions CSK will look to sustain their momentum to enhance their standing on the points table. They have the players – batsmen and bowlers – in form to make this possible.

The overseas stars are making a good impact. Faf du Plessis has impressed as opener, Sam Curran is proving his all-round prowess and Dwayne Bravo’s experience has been vital to the team.

The big success, of course, is Moeen Ali. Picked up in the last auction, Moeen has excelled as top-order batsman as well as wicket-taking spinner in the crucial middle overs.

The homegrown players have also played a key role in the team’s impressive display. Suresh Raina has shown ambition and Ambati Rayudu has also made useful contributions.

Deepak Chahar and Ravindra Jadeja have been among the wickets. Ruturaj Gaikwad is the sole failure, missing out on a chance to score big in all three matches.

Gaikwad’s failures might open the door for the veteran Robin Uthappa.

And MS Dhoni is not the vintage Dhoni as batsman. But his captaincy has been top class, especially in the match against Rajasthan Royals, where his deployment of spinners was marvelous.

The Knight Riders are very strong on paper, but they have had a disappointing time so far. They seem to be doing many things right, but only in patches. They seem to be losing momentum suddenly, which the opponents have been quick to exploit.

Lack of runs from the middle-order has been KKR’s biggest problem. The top three – Nitish Rana, Shubman Gill and Rahul Tripathi – have scored runs, though Gill and Tripathi have both been guilty of squandering good starts.

And the hugely experienced Shakib Al Hasan, Eoin Morgan and Andre Russell have fallen short in all three games.

This has resulted in KKR scoring par or below par scores, which has put pressure on bowlers who haven’t been helped by some sloppy fielding. Overall, the team’s performance has been mediocre.

But KKR’s bench strength is formidable – Sunil Narine, Lockie Ferguson, Ben Cutting, Kuldeep Yadav to name a few – and it is almost certain that there will be some changes to the team that played the last match.

Their head coach Brendon McCullum hinted at bringing Narine into the playing eleven – probably at the expense of Russell.

But it remains to be seen if such a move will work for a team that are desperately hoping to rediscover their mojo.

Wednesday's match

Kolkata vs Chennai

6pm UAE Time

Players To Watch Out For:

CSK: Moeen Ali, Sam Curran, Suresh Raina

KKR: Nitish Rana, Shubman Gill, Prasidh Krishna

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