IPL 2021: Spotlight on KKR's fielding and misfiring middle-order

Ayaz Memon/Mumbai
Filed on October 3, 2021 | Last updated on October 3, 2021 at 12.41 am
Nitish Rana of Kolkata Knight Riders plays a shot during the match against Punjab Kings. (ANI)

Fortunately, KKR's match tonight is against the bottom-placed Hyderabad who are wallowing in mediocrity and defeats

Kolkata Knight Riders were the best performing side in the second phase along with Chennai Super Kings. But the two-time champions surprisingly stumbled against Punjab Kings the other night, opening up the race for the fourth spot in the playoffs.

Tied with PBKS and Mumbai Indians on 10 points, the Knight Riders face a must-win match against the already eliminated Sunrisers Hyderabad on Sunday.

A last-over defeat, especially when the team is expected to win, can drain players emotionally. Motivation can slacken and self-belief can come down a crucial notch or two.

Fortunately, KKR’s match tonight is against the bottom-placed Hyderabad who are wallowing in mediocrity and defeats.

There is not much that KKR have to revise in terms of tactics. But they will certainly have to sharpen up in the field. The middle-order needs to provide healthy support too. The top 4 in batting have been productive, but their lower-order hasn’t really managed to do the job.

Skipper Eoin Morgan’s lack of runs also remains a major concern. Having scored just 17 runs in four IPL matches in UAE, the England captain will be desperate to regain his touch ahead of the T20 World Cup (October 17-November 14).

Dinesh Karthik hasn’t got many overs of batting. If the big-hitting Andre Russell is still unfit, Morgan and Karthik have greater responsibility on their shoulders.

Against Punjab, Lockie Ferguson’s absence (because of a niggle) also hurt KKR. The Kiwi pacer is a white-ball specialist with a bagful of improvisations that have helped KKR enormously in the middle and death overs. KKR’s real strength in bowling, however, comes from their two wonderful spinners — Sunil Narine and Varun Chakravarthy.

Debutant Venkatesh Iyer has been the toast of not just his team, but of the second phase, batting with aplomb. In the last couple of games, Iyer has also shown fine bowling skills as his ability to bowl the yorkers in the slog overs has really helped the Knights.

For SRH, the issue is far more severe. Nothing seems to have worked for them this season — not in phase one or second. A win over Rajasthan Royals hinted at a revival of sorts, but SRH went on to lose their next game and it was back to square one for the beleaguered side that lacks cohesiveness on the field and looks divided off it.

If the Sunrisers Hyderabad have to pull off an upset, the overseas quartet of Jason Roy, Kane Williamson, Rashid Khan and Jason Holder has to click together.

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