The Indian Premier League (IPL) game between the Punjab Kings (PBKS) and the Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) pitted two underperforming teams against one another, with both hungry to iron out their flaws in execution thus far. The first game at Ahmedabad gave an inclination of what lies ahead in the tournament, with the pitch keeping somewhat low and assisting the slower balls.
In their third such showing of IPL 2021, PBKS crumbled while batting first, and crawled to a paltry 123/9 with the help of Chris Jordan's late strikes. What was expected to be a walk in the park suddenly turned into a nightmare for KKR, as they lost three wickets in the first three overs. Confusion in the middle nearly saw the end of Rahul Tripathi, but the match changed quickly as he along with skipper Eoin Morgan started to put pressure on the bowlers.
Here are three reasons why PBKS lost to KKR on April 26.
#3 PBKS openers' lack of intent in the powerplay
The best time to bat on pitches like the one at Ahmedabad is during the powerplay, against a hard ball and on a relatively fresh surface. Particularly with limited sideways movement on offer, it made sense for PBKS to go for the kill early on against a team that came into the contest low on confidence.
Instead, KL Rahul and Mayank Agarwal both bided their time, allowing pacer Shivam Mavi to get away with three overs for just nine runs in the powerplay. The dismissal of Rahul and Mayank before they could capitalise on their starts - for 19 off 20 and 31 off 34 respectively - meant the middle order had no momentum to work with on a pitch that got harder to bat on.
#2 Lack of middle-order momentum for PBKS
The four straight overs bowled by Shivam Mavi early in the innings meant that KKR skipper Eoin Morgan had the luxury of 7 overs of mystery spin in the middle overs against a somewhat less pedigreed PBKS middle order as compared to the other sides in the tournament. The situation required an experienced head to negotiate, but PBKS' top three had been taken out without imposing themselves.
It meant Sunil Narine continued his excellent IPL record against PBKS with a 2/22 from four over, while Varun Chakravarthy too picked up a wicket and conceded at a run-a-ball. When they weren't in action, Prasidh Krishna and Pat Cummins enjoyed a good day, picking up five wickets behind them to ensure there was no fightback from the PBKS middle order.
#1 PBKS lifted their foot off KKR's throat in the run-chase
The only way PBKS could defend 123 against a dangerous, albeit inconsistent, KKR lineup was via quick wickets to force indecision. It started perfectly as Nitish Rana hit one to the fielder, Shubman Gill was caught plumb in front and Sunil Narine was sent back for a duck after a brilliant catch by Ravi Bishnoi.
Strangely enough, it was Bishnoi who starred in two horrible fielding gaffes from that point to ease the pressure on Morgan and Tripathi. As dew became a problem in the second innings of the game, there were more fielding blunders as the KKR duo strung together a fifty-run partnership.
Though an excellent catch and a sharp run-out slowed down the inevitable, the lack of pressure thereon meant KKR got home in good time anyway.