Aakash Chopra feels Pat Cummins' injury and the Australian missing the remainder of IPL 2022 is a big jolt for the Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR). The former Indian batter said Kolkata seemed to have got their combination right against Mumbai Indians (MI), but Cummins' departure takes away a crucial link from that.
Cummins carried the Knight Riders to a brilliant win with a stunning 14-ball half-century against the Mumbai Indians in his first match of the season. But he was expensive with the ball and got dropped after a few more games. The Australian Test captain was brought back on Monday, once again against MI, and put in a remarkable fast-bowling spell of 3-22 to help his team win by 52 runs.
This was the two-time champions' second triumph in nine games and finally gave a hint that their constant team shuffling might be done with. However, after the Mumbai match, Cummins was ruled out for the rest of the season, starting against SunRisers Hyderabad (SRH) at Pune's MCA Stadium on Saturday.
Speaking to ESPNcricinfo on the subject, Chopra said:
"Yes, absolutely but from all the good that happened in the last match, a very important link has gone missing. Venkatesh Iyer, very good as an opener; Ajinkya Rahane still 50-50 because he was playing run-a-ball; Nitish Rana, Shreyas Iyer these are all good names but Pat Cummins was also there and he's now gone. The link that you recently made has broken again and the venue for this match, his performance was really good here. He smashed that 14-ball 50 here only. So if you see it from that perspective, 'zor ka jhatka dheeme se laga hai' (They have got a big jolt slowly)."
Sri Lankan pacer Chamika Karunaratne or Afghanistan spinner Mohammad Nabi could come into KKR's playing XI as Cummins' replacement depending on the pitch conditions at the MCA Stadium.
"We don't know how much say he has" - Aakash Chopra on Shreyas Iyer's predicament
Chopra was also asked to compare Shreyas Iyer's captaincy stint at Delhi Capitals (DC) with captaining the Knight Riders. He termed it a "bit difficult to judge," pointing to Iyer's statement about KKR CEO Venky Mysore having a say in team selection, which is rare and generally criticized as meddling in the cricketing world.
"It's a bit difficult to judge that. He came to a new franchise and in one post-match presentation said the CEO also makes the playing 11. I am sure every franchise has a different dynamic and if KKR's dynamic is such that the CEO gets involved in what 11 will play then the dynamics here are very different. We don't know how much say he has."
Chopra also noted the incident where Shreyas was caught on camera accosting head coach Brendon McCullum after getting out during their match against the Rajasthan Royals (RR). He said the team environment looks dicey and though some decisions have been made, he doesn't know who to blame for them.
The cricketer-turned-analyst said:
"We've seen him fight with McCullum after coming out to the crease as if saying 'What was this batting order that you sent? You are so scared of Yuzi Chahal that you are sending the wrong batters'. So I don't know what's happening there and how's the environment throughout the IPL so I won't judge. See, these many changes can never be right. But who is responsible for the changes, I have very little idea."
It will be interesting to see whether the match against SRH brings some answers or even more question marks on the KKR's future.