Even after roping in two world-class fast bowlers in Pat Cummins and Lockie Ferguson, a World Cup-winning captain in Eoin Morgan — though in the middle of the tournament — and an additional mystery spinner in Varun Chakravarthy, Kolkata Knight Riders finished fifth in the 2020 edition of the Indian Premier League, the same position as last year.
Morgan’s side crashed out of the playoffs race as Royal Challengers Bangalore [fourth] and Sunrisers Hyderabad [third] had a better net run rate — -0.172 and +0.608 compared to KKR’s -0.214. Otherwise, all three teams won seven games to secure 14 points.
What went wrong
KKR failed to find a solid second opener who could bat freely with the stylish Shubman Gill, who finished the top-scorer of the side with 440 runs. The constant chopping and changing perhaps disturbed the rhythm of the batting department.
Gill batted with Sunil Narine when the latter couldn’t connect bat to ball in the first four games. Later, Rahul Tripathi gave Gill good company for a few games, followed by Tom Banton in one game, and then Nitish Rana came on.
Tripathi, a proven opener in the IPL, initially batted at No. 8 and then opened in a few games. He scored a handsome 81 as an opener against Chennai Super Kings, but in the second-leg meet, the right-hander was back down to at No. 7.
The talented Rana has been promising but inconsistent. His last five performances read: 0, 81, 0, 87, 0.
Runs have flowed whenever Morgan had deliveries to settle down before launching into fireworks. He could have batted at No. 4 and not No. 5. There was a glimpse of what could have happened when the Irishman got time with Narine getting out in two balls against Rajasthan Royals. He finished on a high, smashing an unbeaten 68 off 35 balls.
Andre Russell seems more of a liability now. The all-rounder missed four games after the “grade two, grade three” hamstring tear. He was not fit enough to bowl, but he still returned to score 25 off 11 balls against the Royals.
However, the overall performance of the West Indian was nowhere close to what he achieved last year. The most valuable player of the 2019 edition with 510 runs and 11 wickets ended with 117 runs in 10 games and six wickets only this year.
What is rather surprising is that both Narine and Russell have not improved their technique against the short ball.
The hero: Varun Chakravarthy
Matches: 13; wickets: 17; best bowling: 5/20; average: 20.94; economy rate: 6.84; strike rate: 18.35; four-wicket hauls: 1