What’s the story?
Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) captain Gautam Gambhir has expressed displeasure over the manner in which the team lost their last IPL encounter against the Kings XI Punjab, especially after being in a commanding position for most parts of the game.
Chasing 169 for victory, KKR were well placed at 79/3 in 10 overs. Things went south for the two-time champions thereafter, as they lost 3 wickets and could score only 60 runs in the next 10, in what was a bizarre display of batting by one of the best teams this season.
"Even after almost 24 hours, I haven’t been able to make peace with our loss to Kings XI Punjab. It is one thing losing but another if you lose a game that you should have won easily, and in our case, we played poorly," Gambhir wrote in his column for Hindustan Times.
“It seemed to me that while victory was knocking on the front door, we were all busy welcoming defeat from the back."
In case you didn’t know
The Knight Riders sit at the second spot on the IPL points table, with 16 points from 13 games and need just one more victory to secure their place in the playoffs. They would have expected to do that against the Kings XI especially after Chris Lynn and Sunil Narine had put on 39 runs in the first three overs.
However, that was not to be, as Rahul Tewatia, making his debut for the Kings XI put the brakes on KKR run-scoring by conceding just 18 runs in his 4 overs and picking up 2 wickets.
Leading from the front, be it in victory or in defeat, Gambhir took the blame on himself for not being able to improvise on the blazing start provided to them by Narine and Lynn by not being able to rotate the strike.
“To make clear the reasons, I’d begin with myself. My failure to rotate strike and ending up with plenty of dot balls against my name impacted our progress. After a point, desperation got the better of me,” Gambhir said.
The 35-year-old’s performance was underwhelming, to say the least, as he could score just 8 runs off 18 balls and was partly responsible for slowing the scoring rate down.
“I was like a CEO who had fallen short of results in first three quarters. To make amends in the final one, the desperate CEO rides on further risks, plunging the organization further.
“Instead of looking to rotate strike and put Chris Lynn in charge, I kept thinking boundaries and ended up nowhere with just eight runs off 18 balls.”
Gambhir’s dismissal, however, by no means had marked the end of KKR’s chances. The likes of Robin Uthappa, Yusuf Pathan, and Manish Pandey had all been in decent touch and were expected to pull the chase off.
It didn’t happen though, as some tight bowling by Punjab coupled with quick fall of wickets meant that even Lynn at the other end, who was well set, couldn’t play freely.
“My failure followed by Robin getting out first ball and Manish Pandey having an off day meant the pressure was on Chris Lynn. I think after a point he couldn’t figure out whether to go big or be conservative.
“The run-rate was rising but wasn’t too demanding at the time. I could see dejection in Robin’s eyes when he came off the field.”
The victory was so shocking in its magnitude and its aftereffects were felt even on the breakfast table the following morning.
“The disappointment was so deep that even while seated next to each other on the breakfast table, we didn’t speak. Even Robin’s wife Sheetal, who is usually vivacious, concentrated on her dosa, rather than have a chat. Everyone seemed to be stung by what happened against Punjab,” he said.
While KKR have been one of the teams to beat this season, games like these are bound to happen in a sport. You win some and you lose some. That is the nature of the sport. What differentiates good teams from the ordinary ones is their ability to bounce back from such shockers and reclaim their position in the tournament.
Hence, KKR should only concentrate on the next game and make sure that this defeat does not hinder their chances of playing in the final four. They need just one win to secure a spot and that win should be their primary objective for now.