IPL 2021: Kolkata have slender margin for error against Delhi

Ayaz Memon/Mumbai
Filed on September 27, 2021
Kolkata have been well served by Venkatesh Iyer's swashbuckling approach. — BCCI

How Delhi Capitals' effervescent top order fares against Varun Chakravarthy and Sunil Narine holds the key to the outcome of this match

Kolkata Knight Riders were the most impressive side in the second phase of the IPL before their winning streak was brought to a halt by the Chennai Super Kings on Sunday. Even in that defeat, the Knight Riders showed ambition and resilience, taking the match into a nerve-tingling final over after Ravindra Jadeja’s blazing cameo had seemingly sealed the issue.

What’s made KKR click — and look a completely different side from the first phase — is a more aggressive mindset and some interesting tweaks to the playing XI and batting order. Coach Brendon McCullum had admitted that KKR had played diffidently in the first phase and promised a bolder approach.

That has been evident in the team’s two successes as well as in the narrow defeat to CSK. Captain Eoin Morgan has been able to galvanise his side into a unit that enjoys winning as much as it does playing. The nuance is not in the skills so much as in the mental approach of the players.

Picking players like Venkatesh Iyer has been like hitting a jackpot. Maybe not to the extent (as yet) of the value Varun Chakravarthy brings to the side, but Iyer’s swashbuckling approach at the top has made up for a marked deficiency in KKR’s performances in the first phase.

Apart from Morgan, the batting looks in fine shape.

Playing Lockie Ferguson ahead of Tim Southee (replacement for Pat Cummins) was a somewhat dicey decision considering the success the latter has enjoyed over the past couple of years. But Ferguson’s extra pace and more variations in the death overs has worked to the team’s advantage so far.

On pitches and in conditions where he could get help, or in case Andre Russell does not recover in time after the niggle he suffered during the match against CSK, Southee is the ready option. Bowling is KKR’s strength. Chakravarthy and Sunil Narine have excelled, bowling at the start or in the death, and have been superbly handled by Morgan.

How Delhi Capitals' effervescent top order fares against these ‘mystery’ spinners holds the key to the outcome of this match. If Chakravarthy and Narine pick up early wickets, KKR’s chances get a boost as scoring heavily against DC’s penetrative bowling attack, with so much variety and which does not usually concede too many runs, won’t be easy.

Top of table DC are in no threat about a place in the playoffs. KKR need a win badly to give succour to their hopes. The margin of error for them is very slender.

Ayaz Memon is an Indian sports writer and commentator

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