The 34th match of the IPL 2021 tournament between the blockbuster teams, Mumbai Indians and Kolkata Knight Riders (MI vs KKR), could all be about match-ups. Here, we take a look at a key game plan that could play a role in the game.
The Leg Spinner (read Rahul Chahar) threat awaiting Kolkata Knight Riders:
Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) registered a thumping victory against Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) in their eighth game and started the second half on a high note. They did their basics right, and more importantly, were better than RCB tactically. However, they will be up against one of the most tactically sound teams – Mumbai Indians.
The Eoin Morgan-led team hasn’t fared well against the leg-spinners since the last season. Almost every Knight Riders batsman has succumbed to the wrist spinners. Their incompetence against the leg spinners has been one of the main reasons for their poor show of late.
Since 2020, KKR has had the worst batting average (17.66) and strike rate (114.84) in the league. Moreover, they lose a wicket after every 15 balls, which is also the lowest among the lot. The Knight Riders lose 21.62% of wickets against leggies, again the most among all the franchises.
There has been a set pattern for them. They let the leg spinners build pressure on them initially, and, consequently, lose their wicket afterwards. This has affected their scoring rate in each phase as the opponents have bought in the leg-spinners whenever they have tried going berserk.
MI vs KKR - KKR batsmen against the different variations:
The KKR batsmen have suffered equally against each variation of the leg spinners. Barring Nitish Rana, no other batsman has looked well equipped or have played with the right technique.
The struggle is clear and is a matter of concern. Now the question arises that what is the reason for this kind of inability? The answer is not picking the ball from the hands of the bowlers.
For instance, Dinesh Karthik tries playing premeditated shots without even reading the ball. As a result, he becomes a walking wicket against the wrist spinners. This has been a trend now, which needs an immediate resolution.
It's a match up you cannot ignore, simply because it's been his nemesis for quite a while now.
— Stat Doctor🩺 (@stat_doctor) September 20, 2021
The team can trap Shubman Gill with a simple but effective plan. Push him on the backfoot with a slider or a speedy googly and then bowl a flighted leg break and make him play a big shot. Hence, Gill, who is already on the backfoot, will look to go big and might end up throwing his wicket.
The numbers also suggest that the leg-spin is a better weapon against him. He has been dismissed four times and plays more than 35% dot balls against the balls going away from him. While Gill is a good player of spin, he has still struggled to tackle them at times.
Rahul Tripathi, meanwhile, tries doing more than required which results in dot balls and eventually his wicket. Eoin Morgan, too, struggles against the balls coming into him, a surprise given it's a favourable match up. Only Nitish Rana has looked convincing against the leg-spinners, and the onus will be on him again to deliver for his team.
Rahul Chahar: KKR’s biggest threat
Rahul Chahar has played a crucial role in KKR's poor numbers against the leg spinners. He wreaks havoc every time he plays against the Men in Purple. The numbers also paint a similar story.
There is a glaring difference between his performance against Kolkata Knight Riders and the other teams. Of all the seven teams he has played against, he has taken the most number of wickets (8) against KKR. He has an astonishing bowling average of 8.88 and takes wickets after every nine balls.
Chahar has been magnificent against the right-handed batsmen in particular - six of the eight wickets have come against them. KKR batsmen struggle majorly against the leg spins as discussed earlier, and Rahul Chahar gets the majority of his wickets off leg breaks.
Since 2020, Rahul has taken 18 wickets while bowling the leg break which constitutes 69.23% of his total wickets. He also induces 20.47% false shots while bowling this particular delivery. Chahar mixes his variations smartly and has been improving with each passing game.