The league stage of the 2020 Indian Premier League (IPL) season is heading towards its business end, with Mumbai Indians and Delhi Capitals leading the playoffs race and the competition for the remaining two spots heating up.
With eight points from as many games, the Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) side finds itself right in the middle of the race and it certainly has worrying problems in its ranks. Two of KKR’s top-billed players, Pat Cummins and Andre Russell, have been on a mismatched run of fortunes this season and have added to its concerns moving forward.
Mixture of opposites
Pat Cummins will be feeling the heat this IPL season – a return to the league after three years since his last stint with Delhi Daredevils and a heavy pay cheque posing extra baggage from the “outside.” Despite finding success with Delhi in 2017 (15 wickets from 12 matches), finishing as its leading wicket-taker that season, Cummins, the most expensive auction pick this season, has hardly provided the goods with the ball.
With just two wickets from eight matches, Cummins ranks on the poorer side of KKR’s bowlers – a stark contrast from his numbers in Twenty20 Internationals and T20 cricket overall. However, the Aussie paceman has been impressive with the bat, scoring 126 runs in seven innings – more than the likes of Russell and Dinesh Karthik who relinquished his duties as KKR captain in order to find form with the bat.
On the other hand, Russell, who bagged the most wickets for KKR last season, leads the race this time as well with six from eight games thus far. This comes in the presence of specialist pacers such as Cummins and the young Indian trio of Prasidh Krishna, Shivam Mavi and Kamlesh Nagarkoti.
Halfway through the league stage, KKR has picked the least wickets among all eight teams, while its pacers have been the least effective with a collective total of 22 wickets.
With the overseas pacers being a revelation this season for most teams, KKR will want its spearhead Cummins to pick more wickets instead of just being the most economical among the pacers in the side.
Andre Russell has been on top of his game with the ball during the death overs. – IPL
|Team||Total wickets taken||Wickets taken by pacers|
|Chennai Super Kings||46||32|
|Kings XI Punjab||40||24|
|Royal Challengers Bangalore||42||24|
|Kolkata Knight Riders||34||22|
KKR was further jolted by the indifferent form of Sunil Narine with the bat as an opener and the loss of his all-round abilities to a suspect bowling action, leaving Russell the sole all-rounder in the side with Cummins playing catch-up after his latest batting exploits.
Russell, who had a below-par season in the Caribbean Premier League (222 runs from eight innings and three wickets) in September, failed to begin well with the bat for Kolkata, having scored a paltry 84 from eight innings – far from his 2019 self, who racked up 510 runs from 13 innings. Despite the wavering form, Russell will remain a starter given his prowess to become the tormentor for the opposition on his day.
KKR could, however, roll in a replacement for Cummins while trying two players who are relatively new in the IPL environment – Kiwi quick Lockie Ferguson and the USA’s Ali Khan upon recovery from an unspecified injury. While Ferguson’s seething pace and wicket-taking ability could turn the tide, a fully fit Khan could be a potential game-changer having tasted success with the CPL champion Trinbago Knight Riders in September.
Meanwhile, the franchise will pin its hopes on captain Eoin Morgan recreating his England success with KKR in the United Arab Emirates. He’s had five years there and now barely five games here to make the difference.
No run Narine | Is the Narine gamble at the top slowly tapering off for Kolkata? – BCCI/IPLT20
Wickets by pacers after eight matches each
Batting: Matches: 8; innings: 7; runs: 126; highest score: 53*; average: 31.50; strike rate: 161.53, fifties: 1
Bowling: Matches: 8; innings: 8; runs conceded: 250; wickets: 2; best bowling figures: 1/13; average: 125.00; economy rate: 8.62
Batting: Matches: 8; innings: 7; runs: 83; highest score: 24; average: 11.85; strike rate: 140.67: fifties: 0
Bowling: Matches: 8; innings: 6; runs conceded: 146; wickets: 6; best bowling figures: 2/29; average: 24.33; economy rate: 9.12