Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) have failed to fire as a unit in IPL 2021, winning only two of their seven games.
The two-time champions have struggled to play their usual brand of aggressive cricket, and batsmen have failed to capitalise on scoring opportunities, especially in power play and death overs.
"It's very, very disappointing. I think as a player, you ask to be given freedom and confidence and loyalty when it comes to selection, to go out there and take the game on and try and be aggressive... and to try and make things happen for your team. A saying that I've used throughout my career is that, 'If you can't change a man, change the man.' So we'll probably have to make some changes and try and bring in some fresh personnel who will hopefully take the game on a bit more."
With KKR's playoff hopes receding with every defeat, here is a look at three tactical changes KKR could consider for the remainder of their IPL 2021 campaign.
#1 KKR should open the batting with Sunil Narine
Sunil Narine has played four matches in IPL 2021 and has scored just six runs. He has batted twice apiece at no. 4 and no. 5.
Though Narine's primary role in the team is to pick wickets, KKR have utilised him as an opener in the past. Narine has tasted success while opening the batting in the IPL.
In 37 innings as an opener in the competition, Narine has scored 724 runs at an impressive strike rate of 176.59. He has scored three half-centuries while opening the batting. KKR could consider opening the batting with Sunil Narine, as he can take advantage of the power-play overs by scoring quick runs.
Shubhman Gill has struggled to fire in IPL 2021. In seven innings, he has scored only 132 runs at a dismal average of 18.86 and strike rate of 117.86, which indicates that he has failed to get his team off to flying starts.
Narine could open the batting with Nitish Rana instead of Shubman Gill as KKR look to get back to winning ways in the tournament and boost their flagging playoff hopes.
#2 Andre Russell to bat at no. 4
Considering Andre Russell's big-hitting prowess, he is wasted by KKR lower down the order. The West Indian all-rounder can change the course of T20 matches in a matter of a few minutes and could be a real asset for KKR if he bats at no. 4.
Russell usually bats at no. 6 or 7 and has played a few blistering innings in the death overs this season. However, the more deliveries he gets to face, the better chances KKR would have to put up a big score and put pressure on the opposition.
By batting at no. 4, Russell could score quick runs in the middle-overs and take the pressure of embattled KKR captain Eoin Morgan.
#3 Include Kuldeep Yadav in the playing XI
Left-arm wrist spinners are a rarity in the game. Kuldeep Yadav is one such practitioner who has done well in international cricket.
Few teams have left-arm wrist spinners in their ranks, so they could present challenges to batsmen. Yadav has not played many games in the two previous editions of the IPL due to various reasons.
However, KKR should look to bring variety in the bowling attack and include Kuldeep Yadav in their playing XI.
He could pick up crucial wickets in the middle overs and be a much-needed X-factor in the KKR bowling attack. He has picked up 40 wickets in the IPL and deserves to return to the playing 11.
Kuldeep Yadav could replace Shivam Mavi, who has not created much of an impact in IPL 2021