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IPL 2019: KKR's losing streak continues - Missing the right balance or over-dependence on Russell

Satyam Jha
ANALYST
Feature
643   //    21 Apr 2019, 22:41 IST

Image Courtesy: IPLT20.com
Image Courtesy: IPLT20.com

Kolkata Knight Riders are going down quickly after a good start to the season. With just 4 wins in 10 games so far, they are languishing at the bottom half of the points table. The recent loss to Sunrisers Hyderabad makes it a 5th straight defeat for the Bengal franchise.

The more worrying fact is that despite having a balanced team, Karthik-led side is finding it tough to go past the line.

One doesn’t expect them to struggle so badly with the likes of Chris Lynn, Narine, Shubman Gill, and Andre Russell in the ranks. Add to that, the experience that Uthappa and skipper Karthik bring in to the table, makes it a complete side as far as batting is concerned.


Missing the right balance or Russell dependency

KKR’s story this season has been pretty one dimensional. On almost all occasions while batting, the Knights have depended heavily on Andre Russell to aid them with the bat. The West Indian all-rounder has been KKR’s go-to man, especially with the bat, bailing the team out of trouble and chasing down targets from unthinkable circumstances.

Russell is having a dream season with the bat, surpassing all his previous best stats in IPL. In the 10 games so far, the big man has scored 392 runs at an average of 65.33 and at an astonishing strike rate of 217, his highest in IPL ever.

Russell has managed three fifties this year, matching his previous best in 2015. He has hit 41 sixes in just 10 games, highlighting the dream form he is in at the moment. The impact Russell has on oppositions in 2019 is evident from the fact that Sunrisers Hyderabad did not give the ball to Rashid Khan until the 13th over, saving the Afghani leg-spinner for Russell.

KKR lost the last game against Virat Kohli’s Royal Challengers Bangalore by a mere 10 runs courtesy a late onslaught by Russell, and Nitish Rana, who admitted he could have won the game had he batted a little higher up the order.

Dinesh Karthik’s captaincy came under severe criticism against SRH when Rinku Singh came ahead of Russell amidst a middle-order collapse.

KKR got off to a flyer thanks to Narine, but his innings lasted only 8 balls before he was cleaned up by Khaleel Ahmed. Chris Lynn played cautiously holding up one end, as KKR lost 3 quick wickets going from 50/1 to 73/4. One would have anticipated Russell to walk in at six after Karthik’s dismissal, but Rinku Singh coming ahead of the West Indian came as a surprise to many.

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Logically, KKR management’s idea to demote Russell in the batting order could well have been due to the fact that it was only the 9th over of the innings and they wanted to save Russell for the final flourish. However, better sense would have been to give your best batsman a chance to be in the middle, stabilizing the innings along with a well-set opener, rather than sit in the dugout.

KKR managed to crawl past the 150-mark towards the end, which was never going to be enough for the Hyderabad openers, who seem to be batting in a completely different zone.

Bairstow and Warner combined well and played flamboyant innings together, demolishing a helpless KKR attack, reaching the target with 9 wickets in hand and 30 balls to spare. KKR are still in the bottom half of the points table and need to pull up their act together.

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