Mumbai: It was a hot day in Mumbai when Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) entered the Wankhede Stadium to play their first game against hosts Mumbai Indians (MI) of the current edition of Indian Premier League (IPL). They could not have asked for a better start to the game. Skipper Dinesh Karthik won the toss and asked the hosts to bat first. However, they did not know that the heat will catch on so quickly on them.
On the back of a brilliant win against Chennai Super Kings (CSK), KKR hoped for a repeat of that performance. The plan was simple — restrict Mumbai to a low total and chase it down.
Where did the things go awry then for the visitors? Let's talk about the two key mistakes KKR made on Sunday.
The one mistake that KKR have been making throughout this tournament is not picking the wickets in the powerplay. Out of the 10 games they have played this season, KKR have picked a wicket on just four occasions in the powerplay. What this means is simple - their new-ball bowlers are failing to apply pressure upfront in the innings.
Even on Sunday against Mumbai Indians, the first wicket came in form of Evin Lewis only in the 10th over of the innings. The first over was bowled by a part-timer Nitish Rana, while there were three quality spinners in the team, two of whom did not complete their quota of overs. By that time, Mumbai had scored 91. Imagine giving 91 runs in first nine overs and not picking a wicket and that too when you have opted to bowl first after winning the toss.
What is to be noted that on three out of the four times they picked a wicket in the powerplay, KKR won the game. It is no rocket science for Karthik to notice that he needs to bring some changes in the bowling department and get rid of the culture of not bringing enough changes in the playing XI.
The other mistake that KKR committed on Sunday was sending Shubman Gill to open the innings. It was too creative for their betterment. Narine’s brilliance at the top has been a huge factor in KKR chasing targets successfully. The Caribbean left-hander has been hitting quick 30s and 40s, giving KKR quick runs up in the batting order. This has taken the additional pressure off from the likes of Chris Lynn and Robin Uthappa. There was no need really to change that in Sunday’s match. Narine came to bat number seven and by that time, it was too late for KKR.
When Narine bats up the order, KKR is assured of a solid middle order in form of Robin Uthappa, Nitish Rana, Shubman Gill and Dinesh Karthik and all have displayed that they can be dangerous in the middle overs. When Narine is pushed down the order, there is no place really where he can do well for the team with the bat, especially while chasing. Also, it disturbs the middle order significantly.
These were the two basic mistakes that KKR made against Mumbai Indians, and paid the price.
Knight Riders are still in the race to qualify for the playoffs and this loss does not do much harm to them. However, the road from here is only going to get tougher with other sides who lost early looking to lift their games. They play Mumbai again three days later at home but apart from this game and the one against Rajasthan Royals, they are playing Kings XI Punjab and Sunrisers Hyderabad in away encounters.