At this point, fans of the Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) will be fondly remembering their team's glory days under Gautam Gambhir. The franchise faired decently in the 2018 edition of the IPL, making the playoffs after finishing fourth in the points table but failed to do this in 2019, finishing fifth.
KKR will be hoping to avoid a repeat of this, as they now find themselves with 10 points after five wins and as many losses after ten games. They won three out of their first five games but proceeded to win only two out of their next five.
The side, now led by Eoin Morgan, needs three more wins out of their four remaining league stage clashes to qualify for the playoffs. At the very least, they will have to win two games if they are to even have a chance of making the playoffs.
A squad that possesses big names such as Andre Russell, Eoin Morgan, Shubhman Gill, Dinesh Karthik, and Pat Cummins among others should not be in this situation. KKR, however, has struggled throughout the season and haven't performed consistently.
To win three games out of their next four is not going to be an easy task, especially given that their next game is against table-toppers the Delhi Capitals.
The Capitals have been the team to beat this season, with Shreyas Iyer's men coming up with fine team performances to best their opposition. However, as Kings XI Punjab recently proved, DC is not unbeatable.
With that being said, here are 3 things that Eoin Morgan's KKR can do to beat DC.
#1) Attack Shikhar Dhawan with the short ball
To put it simply, Shikhar Dhawan has been unstoppable in the last two games. Having become the first batsman in IPL history to post back-to-back centuries (after having had none in his first 166 IPL innings), he has taken DC's already dangerous batting unit to a whole new level.
However, Dhawan's struggles with short balls have been laid bare for all to see. Although pace on the ball is just what he needs to launch his attack on the opposition, the southpaw still struggles against the bouncer.
In Pat Cummins and Lockie Ferguson, KKR has pace which can be used to their advantage. For this to have an effect, Cummins and Ferguson will have to open the bowling attack for the Knight Riders. Morgan will have to ensure that the mistake against RCB is not repeated and that Ferguson bowls with Cummins right at the top.
The pacers must look to use the short ball to good effect as this will give their side the best chance of dismissing an unstoppable Shikhar Dhawan.
#2) Opening the batting with Tom Banton and Rahul Tripathi
This year, KKR have had problems from the top of their batting order. The Narine experiment did not come good this season, and Shubhman Gill has only managed to show glimpses of what he's capable of doing.
The young right-hander still has 312 runs to his name with two half-centuries and a handy average of 34. With him having proven his flexibility in the batting order for KKR, he can be pushed to the no. 3 slot, which currently belongs to an out-of-form Nitish Rana.
Rahul Tripathi has been in good form, but his talents are currently not being put to good use lower down the KKR middle-order. The batsman has managed to score only 168 runs in seven innings with most of his outings being at no. 5, 6, or 7. However, Tripathi has shown in the past that he can come good at the top of the KKR order.
Tom Banton, on the other hand, is a highly rated up-and coming talent who should be given a long rope at the top. The 21-year-old hasn't been too impressive, but that could have to do with the uncertainty of his place in the squad.
Banton has played two games, coincidentally both against RCB, one in which he opened the innings and scored two runs, and another in which he played at no. 4 and scored 16 runs.
Banton has shown in the Big Bash League and English domestic tournaments that he can be a game-changer as an opener and he should be given opportunities to prove himself, especially in Narine's absence.
KKR should open with Banton and Tripathi, as this brings in two run-hungry openers, steadies the no. 3 spot with Gill, and gives depth to the team's batting lineup.
#3) Bring in a pacer to replace Varun Chakravarthy
Varun Chakravarthy has had a decent season with KKR. The spinner has managed to pick up seven wickets in nine games, and has an economy of 7.27. The reason why KKR should bring in a pacer ahead of Chakravarthy is simply that the Capitals have players such as Shikhar Dhawan, Prithvi Shaw, Shreyas Iyer, and Alex Carey - all of whom are great players of spin.
Moreover, Chakravarthy hasn't had enough of an impact in the tournament to make him an automatic pick in the starting XI. While his overall numbers have looked decent, the spinner from Tamil Nadu tends to go off-track and give away runs in the process.
KKR already have a specialist spinner in Kuldeep Yadav, who is likely to be in the playing XI. They should bring in a pacer like Shivam Mavi or Kamlesh Nagarkoti, who have impressed in the matches that KKR have played so far in the tournament.Published 23 Oct 2020, 22:13 IST