The gulf between the franchises in the extreme east (KKR) and west (MI) of India continues to increase in terms of head-to-head record in the Indian Premier League, as the Mumbai Indians comprehensively claimed victory over the Kolkata Knight Riders, the margin being 49 runs, their 20th victory over KKR in the IPL, the most by any team against a particular opposition in the League.
After winning the toss and opting to chase, KKR got off to a dream start, as Shivam Mavi beat Quinton de Kock for pace and had him out caught. But thereafter, they had to endure a partnership of 90 between Rohit Sharma and Suryakumar Yadav, with Rohit being the aggressor, helping himself to some ordinary bowling from the KKR pacers early on. A run out broke the partnership only for another one to be built during the middle-stages, as Saurabh Tiwary replaced Suryakumar and gave Rohit the required support. To their credit, KKR did manage to arrest some momentum from MI at the death overs after the dismissal of Rohit Sharma, restricting Mumbai to a total of 195, a total that their head coach Brendon McCullum considered to be a par score on this track.
KKR lost both their openers well within the powerplay, leaving Dinesh Karthik and Nitish Rana with the job of building a foundation and beginning to accelerate once set. But just as soon as they got to the acceleration part, both Karthik and Rana were dismissed. Morgan, who just came off a 6-day quarantine period, looked out of sorts today, and so did KKR’s talisman, Andre Russell. The dismissal of both the big-hitters effectively spelled the end of the game for KKR, but Pat Cummins, having gone for 49 in his 3 overs in the first innings, decided to salvage some of those runs back. While Cummins’ 12 ball cameo of 33 was nowhere near enough in helping KKR chase down the target, it did help them in terms of the net run rate.
Factors that cost KKR the game:
Shoddy performance with the ball early on after electing to chase
For the second time in two days, we have seen an IPL team win the toss, rather enthusiastically opt to bowl first, and then give a truckload of runs away in the earlier and middle stages. The only difference between the game yesterday and today was that there was no 30-run last over today, as the Kolkata Knight Riders came back quite well in the slog overs, which was probably the only major highlight for them today.
Much like what happened yesterday, a left-handed opener of the side batting first was rushed into a pull shot in the initial overs and was pouched comfortably. And then, much like yesterday, the opener and the number 3 teed off, with the opener getting a good score. Rohit Sharma and Suryakumar Yadav counter-attacked the KKR bowlers after Quinton de Kock’s dismissal in the second over, fed with ample width, half volleys, and harmless short deliveries, and were also assisted by an ordinary display from the KKR fielders. It took a run out to break the partnership between the two Mumbaikars, which was more down to Suryakumar being slow on the first run.
After Suryakumar fell, KKR, instead of applying pressure on the new batsman, Saurabh Tiwary, allowed him to settle in and rotate the strike, as Rohit Sharma continued on his merry way, resulting in a 49-run partnership. Although Cummins was somewhat productive with the bat later on, his eventual bowling figures of 49 runs off his 3 overs might have already made his price tag of INR 15.5 crores slightly heavier.
The inclusion of Nikhil Naik in the XI
He is neither in the side for his wicketkeeping, nor does he contribute in any manner with the ball. KKR could have easily trusted Pat Cummins’ all-round skills and picked an additional bowler in Kamlesh Nagarkoti or Prasidh Krishna, in the process keeping a concrete 6th bowling option. The only logical reason behind Naik playing for KKR today could be that he has been hitting the ball quite well in the training sessions leading to KKR’s opening game.
Even if we go by that logic, then why wasn’t he sent out to open the batting and have a crack at the bowlers from the word go? Surely, Naik is a much more competent batsman than someone like Sunil Narine, who has been used as a pinch hitter by KKR time and time again over the years, with the Trinidadian’s success at the top order diminishing year after year. Instead, the Maharashtrian had to walk in at number 7, with the game well out of his side’s reach. He walked back an over and a half later, undermined, underutilized and unable to make any impression, facing 3 balls for just a solitary run.
Untimely dismissals of top-order batsmen
To chase down a target of 196, KKR, despite having a power-hitting heavy middle-order, desperately needed one batsman out of the top 3 or 4 to replicate what Rohit Sharma did for MI in the first innings and a little more, i.e. bat till the end. Dinesh Karthik and Nitish Rana, having got off to good starts, failed to capitalize on them. It might be argued that Eoin Morgan and Andre Russell could have done better, but, to be fair, they were up against the likes of Jasprit Bumrah, Trent Boult and the pace of James Pattinson, with 119 required from 50 deliveries.
Karthik, who has had an excellent record against Bumrah in the IPL, would have been quite effective in the middle overs, especially looking at his zeal in walking in at 3, wanting to take command over the run chase as captain, and with the positive intent he was batting with. But it was not meant to be for him today, as he came undone trying to play the slog sweep, his go-to shot against the spinners, to Rahul Chahar, and was trapped in front.