IPL 2019: Kolkata Knight Riders mid-season analysis
Kolkata Knight Riders find themselves second on the points table after seven matches by virtue of an NRR of 0.434, currently level with Delhi Capitals, Kings XI Punjab, and Mumbai Indians with 8 points.
Andre Russell's performances sum up their season so far. He started off the season by single-handedly winning matches against Sunrisers Hyderabad and Kings XI Punjab, brutally dispatching Bhuvneshwar Kumar in the first game and taking advantage of his good fortune when Kings XI Punjab failed to keep the required number of fielders within the circle in the second.
Half-centuries from Russell and Dinesh Karthik weren't enough against the Delhi Capitals, and KKR lost to them in a Super Over which featured a brutal yorker from Kagiso Rabada to uproot Russell's middle stump. Poor death bowling by Royal Challengers Bangalore was ruthlessly capitalized upon by Russell, who took apart Mohammed Siraj, Marcus Stoinis, and Tim Southee in the span of two overs. By the time he was done, he had 48(13) with seven sixes.
A half-century from Chris Lynn and wickets from Harry Gurney ensured a comfortable win against Rajasthan Royals, before a batting collapse against the spin-bowling trio of Ravindra Jadeja, Imran Tahir, and Harbhajan Singh led to a loss against the Chennai Super Kings despite a half-century from Russell. Shubman Gill's half-century wasn't enough to stop Delhi Capitals in their next match, with KKR losing to them by seven wickets.
Andre Russell leads their batting with 302 runs and two half-centuries with a phenomenal strike rate of 212.67. Robin Uthappa, Nitish Rana, Chris Lynn, and Shubman Gill have contributed with runs here and there, with Uthappa being the only other batsman with more than 200 runs. Dinesh Karthik has had a poor season so far with only 93 runs, with 50 of them coming in one match against Delhi Capitals. While he has led capably so far, runs from him will be crucial in the latter part of the tournament.
Russell also leads their bowling with six wickets, followed by wrist spinners Piyush Chawla and Kuldeep Yadav with four and three wickets respectively. Sunil Narine has had a poor season so far with only three wickets but has also been recovering from injury, thereby reducing his effectiveness. Yadav's wickets have come at an average of 66.30, with teams reading him better and the Eden Gardens pitch giving him minimal assistance.
Harry Gurney has impressed with his left-arm angle and pace in his two matches, while Lockie Ferguson has only managed two wickets at an average of 91.50 from five matches and an economy rate of 10.76. M Prasidh Krishna also has only two wickets from seven matches at an average of 115. With the Eden Gardens pitch more favorable for batting and for teams batting second, the bowlers will only find themselves in more difficult situations as the tournament progresses.
Their batting is their key strength towards the end of the tournament, but the team management will note that Russell cannot single-handedly win matches for them all the time and will want other players to step up, especially their bowlers.