The Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) fell to the bottom of the Indian Premier League (IPL) points table after a sobering defeat at the hands of the Rajasthan Royals (RR). Both sides entered the contest desperate for victory, with just one win after four games, but it was RR who delivered a complete performance to take home two points.
If KKR's middle order let them down in their three games in Chennai, it was their top order that added to the team's problems in Mumbai with the openers failing to fire. RR came back well from a ten-wicket shellacking at the hands of Royal Challengers Bangalore to put together a fine bowling performance.
Although KKR's improved bowling and RR's unreliable batting made the second innings more of a contest than it should have been, the first innings gap - about 40 runs below par, as KKR captain Eoin Morgan remarked - was too much to recover from.
Here are the top three reasons why KKR lost to RR on April 24.
#3 Shubman Gill's continued lean patch for KKR
If being reduced to 31/5 in the last game wasn't bad enough, KKR stumbled their way to 25/1 after six overs in this game. A large part of that was down to Shubman Gill's utterly out-of-sorts performance of 11 runs off 19 balls, which sucked away momentum from the innings.
Though Gill has occasionally struck the ball well, he has been dismissed early in every game, hurting the team's ability to put up big scores. RR's pacers did mix up the pace well, but it was Gill's lack of intent - mirrored by Nitish Rana at the other end - which meant KKR fell well short of anything competitive in their first innings.
#2 Chris Morris leads RR's superb death-bowling show
Even when the KKR top five failed in the previous game, the experienced lower-middle order made a match out of a hopeless situation. The biggest reason it could not happen in today's game against RR was the continuous loss of wickets to derail momentum.
In the 16th over, Mustafizur Rahman got rid of Rahul Tripathi, who was the only KKR batsman to look close to fluent on the night. Two overs later, Chris Morris struck the death blow by dismissing both Andre Russell and Dinesh Karthik in the same over. The match was still on while Cummins was on strike, but Morris dismissed him too in the final over to finish with a superb 4/23 from his four overs.
#1 Pat Cummins disappoints in primary skillset
In the past two years, Pat Cummins has shown his utility with the bat for the two-time champions, scoring two fifties and contributing with some lower-order hitting. It is with the ball - the main reason KKR dished out INR 15.5 crore for him in the 2020 auction - that he has disappointed consistently.
After just three scalps in the first 10 games of IPL 2020, it appeared as if he had turned a corner with four wickets from three games in 2021. However, two successive wicketless, expensive outings have sorely hurt the team.
On a day when all other bowlers - across both sides - conceded at eight runs per over or less, Cummins went at 9.4 runs per over to undo the good work done by the likes of Shivam Mavi, Prasidh Krishna and Varun Chakravarthy.
Cummins' all-round utility makes him irreplaceable for the team, but he needs to step up and deliver more often on Indian pitches.