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IPL 2017: KKR coach explains why the team has opted for different opening combinations

KKR will need to get a settled combination soon.

Sunil Narine opened with Gambhir in the last game

What’s the story?

Kolkata Knight Riders assistant coach Simon Katich has said that the absence of an explosive batsman like Andre Russell has forced the team management to try out different combinations at the top of the order.

Against the Kings XI Punjab last week, Sunil Narine walked out to bat with Gautam Gambhir, raising several eyeballs and then in the game against the Delhi Daredevils, Colin de Grandhomme opened the batting with the skipper of the franchise. Chris Lynn, who had such a sensational opening game, is yet to recover fully from injury.

“We learnt a little bit looking at our results and analysing all the stats. Robin (Uthappa) and have done a fantastic job over a number of years. But the big difference this year is that we didn’t have Andre Russell batting at No. 5 or 6. Losing him meant that we had to find out how we could pick up that sort of a strike rate.

“No disrespect to the other guys but it is very hard to match Andre’s power at the back end of the innings. And we had to get that power somewhere else. So we chose (Chris) Lynn to do it and do it at the top of the order,” he told in an interview to The Hindustan Times.

In case you didn’t know...

Russell has been suspended for a year after violating dope test rules in Jamaica. The all-rounder, who plays in almost every T20 League across the globe, was banned from the game in January and will be unable to play the game both at the international and domestic level until the 31st of January next year.

The heart of the matter

Katich further praised Yusuf Pathan, stating that he was one of the most consistent players and added that when the cricketer played with a sense of intent from the start, he looked a totally different player. He also praised Manish Pandey for his batsmanship and the way he finished off things against the Delhi Daredevils on Monday.

Extra Cover: IPL 2017, KKR vs GL: Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) today's probable playing XI against Gujarat Lions (GL), Match 23

What’s next?

KKR play a home game against the Gujarat Lions on Friday and it will be interesting to see whether they send a pinch hitter to open with Gambhir. They do have the option to resort back to Uthappa if the need arises for the team.

They did not get off to the best of starts in the last game against the Delhi Daredevils and will hope to change that on Friday.

Author’s take

It does seem like a good ploy to make the most of the Powerplay overs when a player of the hitting calibre of Russell is missing down the order. But it would be wise on the part of KKR to stick to one player to do that job. Rotating opening partners constantly will not give them the stability they need at the top.

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