When the Kolkata Knight Riders spent a whopping 9.6 crore INR to re-acquire the services of Chris Lynn in the IPL auctions back in January, it summed up how much faith the franchise had in the Australian batsman’s abilities despite the injury concerns that have haunted him in recent times.
However, fans and pundits alike were having second thoughts about Lynn’s acquisition due to his injury concerns. The Queenslander played just five matches during the 2017/18 Big Bash League season due to his shoulder condition getting aggravated again and again.
But the IPL franchise were absolutely certain about the fact that Lynn will be a vital piece to complete their puzzle this season as well. After all, Lynn had shown how much damage he can do with the bat at the top of the order during the 2017 edition of IPL. He had suffered the same shoulder injury back then as well during the tournament, which eventually allowed him to play only seven matches.
However, it was never about the number of matches he was playing. It was about the number of matches he was impacting with his hard-hitting abilities. In seven matches of that edition, Lynn plundered 295 runs at an average of 49.16 and strike rate of 180.98 and thus played a crucial role in Kolkata’s journey to the play-offs.
Similarly, when the franchise acquired him once again for this edition, their thought process regarding him was the same. They wanted to get the maximum returns from the most minimal of his outings as Lynn is a real match winner in himself. But he suffered the same shoulder injury again after the auctions that ruled him out of the Pakistan Super League as well.
However, he made a speedy recovery once again and got fit in time to play in Knight Riders’ colours from the very first match of this edition. But things have not been similar for him this season.
In five matches so far, he has scored just 107 runs at an average of 21.40 and a mere strike rate of 120.22. He has looked totally out of form and shape as he has failed to get that sublime timing and power into his shots as we are accustomed to see him getting. In simple words, the ‘Lynnsanity’ has been missing in this year’s IPL.
So what might be the reasons for his failure to click in this edition of the league so far?
The most important reason can be attributed to his lack of participation in competitive cricket for over a month before the league started, all because of his dislocated shoulder.
“Yeah, it’s been challenging. Having not played cricket for six weeks, getting back into the groove has taken me a couple of games. So it was nice to get some runs the other night [49 against Sunrisers] and I’m primed to keep churning out the runs now,” Lynn told KKR.in following their loss to the Sunrisers Hyderabad at home on Saturday.
Moreover, batting with a shoulder brace on has been a whole new challenge for him this time. But he is getting accustomed to using it and is very positive that he will get things back to normal soon.
“Obviously, getting used to batting with the shoulder brace, feeling comfortable with it, is very important. But I think I’ve found a way, and hopefully good things are just around the corner,” he added.
However, there seems to be an old problem troubling him once again besides his injury and the use of shoulder brace.
And that is his difficulty to score runs against the spinners. Out of the 107 runs he has scored so far in the tournament he has scored just 30 runs off the spinners, that too after facing 39 deliveries, at a strike rate of a dismal 76.92. His record against the pacers in this edition, on the other hand, reads 77 runs off 50 deliveries at a much better strike rate of 154.
Apart from that, spinners have accounted for his wicket three out of the five times in this edition so far. Lynn has always been considered to be a weak player of spin. Till 11 January, 2017 he had scored at a strike rate of 109.90 against the spinners and at an average of 28.19, as compared to his superb record against pace which read an average of 43.86 and a strike rate of 169.24.
Moreover, the number of deliveries taken per six differed a lot against pacers and spinners. His balls/six record against the pacers till that time had been 9.05 as compared to 16.68 against the spinners. These statistics showed how much he always struggled against the spinners.
However, he busted this fact and proved everyone wrong during the previous edition of IPL when he plundered 106 runs out of his total tournament tally of 295 runs against the spinners. It came in just 67 deliveries and at a strike rate of 158.20 which defied the concept that he was weak against spin. His balls/six also reduced to a much more efficient number of 11.17.
But he has really struggled to get going against the spinners in this edition. He hasn’t been able to hit even a single six off the spinners. Opposition teams have identified his discomfort against facing spin and hence have choked him in each of the matches with this art of bowling.
He has been dismissed three out of the total five times while trying to attack the spinners. The latest spinner to claim his wicket was Krishnappa Gowtham, who set him up with a nice, flighted delivery first and then bowled a fast and flat delivery to clean him up as Lynn moved away from the stumps to play a fierce curt through the point region.
Ravindra Jadeja had also cleaned him up in Knight Riders’ match against the Chennai Super Kings as Lynn danced down the track to hit him over long on. And Shakib Al Hasan got his wicket off a leading age from a well-flighted delivery in the Knights’ clash with the Sunrisers as Lynn once again came down the track to play it in the gap.
So it seems that his discomfort against the spinners has somehow crept back in his technique once again. More than a fault in his technique, it seems to be a mental block that is holding him back. His underwhelming performance in this edition so far seems mostly because of his low confidence levels and the injury scare hindering him from giving him his 100 percent.
He needs to remember how he trumped the spinners in the previous edition. Moreover, he has to draw confidence and inspiration from that time along with remembering what he did right against them back then and what wrong he is doing now. He has to forget that he was ever injured and play like the way he played in the previous edition — fluent, sublime and confident!