KKR sealed a tight match against the Nizams and maintained their 4th spot in the points table of the ongoing IPL. Even though it was not by any means a convincing victory, the Knights will have a sigh of relief as they are now straight four points or two victories ahead from their immediate neighbor in the table in equal number of matches. However, it was only the brilliance from the so far neglected Lockie Ferguson’s armor that saw the Knights through and there is nothing to boast of for the rests of the side. Lockie Ferguson who was one of the key reasons for New Zealand’s amazing success in the previous World Cup was ignored by the Knight Management in the first eight matches of the tournament, one of the many blunders they have committed in this edition already.
Knights have a plethora of problems ahead of them and they need to change their game drastically if they want to lift the trophy. The task is not impossible, but it is difficult, very very difficult. The last three victories of them have been marginal and there was no sign of any dominance by their batters. Shubhman Gill has been their top scorer and even though he has been consistently scoring runs amassing a little over three hundred runs so far, his strike rate has not been phenomenal. What he needed alongside as his opening partner was someone who could produce a blitzkrieg upon the opponent bowlers, someone like Chris Lynn so that Gill could have played his natural game. But in most of the matches they are unable to produce anything of that sort in the first powerplay and that coerces Gill to try some uncharacteristic slogs resulting in throwing away his wicket. However, he is yet to get a fixed opening partner. Looks like the team management is unaware of the batting prowess of Tom Banton as an opener in the shortest format of the game. Tom was given chance in just one game and overlooked thereafter. He has the array of shots needed to lift the scoring rate and spirit of the team in the first few overs of the match. There are some players who are designed to tear apart the opponent bowlers in the T20 formats only. Banton is one in that ivy league. Bring him back and give him the confidence. He will pay you enormous dividends. Rana reminds me of J.P.Duminy in his final years. He has the talent, he has the intent, he has the shots. But he cannot deliver. He is not someone who can win a match single handedly. He is not at all a liability. But he has to stand up and deliver. He cannot be a permanent number three without some match winning knocks. Russel looks a shadow of his glorious past and after eight matches it is visible that he cannot deliver like what he used to do, at least in the ongoing season. A good team management knows when to drop a player. I don’t think the KKR management has that much of grey matter. But it won’t be a wrong choice to take a risk by dropping him. Nothing can be said against the newly appointed captain Eoin Morgan. He always takes some time to get settled and once he gets going, he will stop at nothing. Morgan is the trump card of the Knights’ batting and so far he has looked really impressive. How well the World Champion captain marshals his resources, only time will tell. Karthik showed some promise in two of the last three matches. He is a strange breed of cricketer, mostly overlooked in the first half of his checkered career and grossly overhyped in the final leg. He can deliver but he is too inconsistent to be a safe bet.
Cummins as No 7 is brilliant but he is not there for his batting skills. And with the ball, his performance thus far has been below par. The young speedsters of the Knights have been far from disciplined and trust is the last word they have been able to induce. Mavi, Warrier, Nagarkoti, Krishna – all of them have been below average and with such weak pace attack, it is better not to dream of the trophy. Chakravarthy has been a good revelation as the leggie though. Narine unlike Cummins has been brilliant in his principal task , even though he has failed miserably in his new found job as a pinch hitting opener. His overs have been crucial in checking runs in the important phases of the game. He has been cleared by the ICC panel of a dubious action and he must be raring to go in the middle. Lockie, the new avenger of the Knights looked breathtakingly wild and beautiful in his first outing and if Cummins get back his form, the duo can prove to be lethal for the opponent. Kuldeep Yadav, even after failing in the one or two chances can not be ignored and if he gets going, the Knight bowling will regain the edges it has lacked so far. As only four overseas players can be chosen, Narine may be considered only if one of the other four is dropped for any reason. Nagarkoti because of his all-rounder abilities can be picked ahead of Mavi.
And just a little piece of advice for the management- use your funds to get a domestic power hitter. You do not have many other options left if your existing options fail. Siddhesh Lad may be given a chance or two replacing Rana. And if you have to go with Rana, give him the chances to bowl an over or two. And show your confidence in Tripathy. Keeping our fingers crossed.
My KKR Team will be