After prevailing over Sunrisers Hyderabad in a rain-hit encounter, Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) were up against a highly motivated Mumbai Indians outfit. This time around, skipper Gautam Gambhir lost the toss and hence did not have the option of chasing at the M. Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bengaluru.
Rohit Sharma’s troops made numerous early inroads to make a strong statement in the game. Despite a resurgent partnership down the order, KKR could only manage a paltry total of 107. Despite a stutter at the start of their innings, Mumbai cruised to a six-wicket victory and consequently booked a place in the final.
Here are five aspects which went completely wrong for the Knight Riders in the second qualifier.
#5 Narine loses the plot
One of the major talking points of this season has been the think-tank’s calculated gamble in promoting Sunil Narine as a pinch-hitting opening batsman. Even though he was not able to consistently score significant runs, the left-hander’s quickfire cameos at the top of the order have provided many a blazing start to the innings.
Faced with the vagaries of a knockout game, Narine was not able to handle the pressure as well as the sluggishness of the surface. He perished while attempting an almighty slog off Karn Sharma's bowling. Without getting to the pitch of the ball, he paid the price for an error in judgement. Maybe the team management could have opted for a more conventional approach during this critical clash.
#4 Suffering a fatal collapse
More often than not, losing wickets in a heap during the early phase of the innings results in irreversible damage for even the most versatile of batting lineups. Upon losing the toss, Kolkata got off to one such treacherous start.
The dangerous Chris Lynn fell in the second over of the game to the wiles of Jasprit Bumrah. The in-form fast bowler also accounted for the consistent Robin Uthappa to spell doom for the Knight Riders. When skipper Gambhir was undone by Karn, their already dire situation was aggravated to a significant extent.
On the other hand, Mumbai had stuck to their plans and put on a rousing bowling performance.
#3 Dropping Yusuf Pathan
Yes, Yusuf Pathan has not had the best of seasons. From 15 games, he has only scored 143 runs at a miserable average of 17.87 and less than remarkable strike rate of 124.34. However, his experience could have been a vital asset in such a key encounter.
In fact, the right-hander’s only half-century of this IPL edition had come when his team were reeling at 21/3 against Delhi Daredevils at the Feroz Shah Kotla last month. During a similar batting crisis on a slow track, Yusuf’s counter-attacking game plan might have rescued the sinking ship. Even though the bold move emanated from his dire numbers, the coaching staff should have kept faith in one of their seasoned campaigners.
#2 Lack of firepower in lower middle-order
Once the top four were back in the dugout, KKR’s woes became even more acute when Colin de Grandhomme succumbed for a golden duck. At 31/5, the writing was almost on the wall for them. Nevertheless, the duo of Ishank Jaggi and Suryakumar Yadav continued to battle on valiantly. The duo put on 56 runs for the sixth wicket to add a semblance of respectability to the team total.
However, their inadequate strike-rates meant that the partnership did not quite have the desired effect. While Jaggi laboured to a 31-ball 28, Suryakumar compiled 31 off 25 deliveries. Although their task was unenviable, they could have taken an additional amount of risk to return the pressure onto Mumbai’s bowlers.
#1 Not capitalising on early wickets
Defending a measly total is never an easy task. Early wickets are a must even as the required run-rate should not be allowed to dip lower. Unlike their efforts with the bat, KKR got off to a solid start in the bowling department and managed to breathe some life back into the contest.
Gambhir’s decision to give the ball to Piyush Chawla in the Power Play overs seemed to pay dividends as the leg-spinner’s impressive spell helped reduce their opponents to 36/3. At a time when they needed to keep chipping away, KKR could not prevent Rohit Sharma and Krunal Pandya from stitching together a decisive partnership. The 54-run stand ensured that Mumbai reached the target without too many complications.