IPL 2021: KKR vs PBKS Game Plan – Can Eoin Morgan overcome the Shami and Bishnoi challenge?

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The 45th match of the IPL 2021 tournament between the blockbuster teams, Kolkata Knight Riders and Punjab Kings, could all be about match-ups. Here, we take a look at a key game plan that could play a role in the 45th game of IPL 2021 – KKR vs PBKS.

Eoin Morgan’s awful form

Averaging 17.5 with a strike rate of 121.9, Eoin Morgan has been in awful form this year. Morgan hadn’t averaged under 20 in any calendar year till, and, having a good form in the last two years, this was rather unexpected. Morgan arguably didn’t have a great time in IPL 2020 either, he had a good strike rate in the death overs only – he was mediocre in the first 16 overs, his weakness against spinners was exploited in particular. 

 

Things have got worse for the English skipper in IPL 2021 as he has been unable to safeguard his wicket in the middle overs, and, thus he has faced just four balls in the slog overs. Morgan’s strike rate against spinners in both seasons has been under 115; however, he had a balls-per-dismissal ratio of 29.25 against tweakers in 2020, compared to 14.25 in this season. 

Morgan hasn’t arrived at the crease very late either, in this season. While entering within the first 12 overs, he played 9 innings in 2020, he has already played 8 innings in such circumstances with three games yet to go. So, he is undoubtedly getting enough time. 

 

Again, he was able to preserve his wickets in the previous season (while compromising with the scoring rate) but not this time around. Morgan has dismissed eight out of eight times while arriving within the first 12 overs this year, averaging a mere 13.13!

Bishnoi might not allow Morgan to escape the middle overs

As already mentioned, Morgan hasn’t fared well against spinners. Since 2020, he is averaging 23.87 with a sub-110 strike rate against slow bowlers. Against leg-spinners, his strike rate goes down to 92.23, although his average increases to 31.66. And, Punjab have a great T20 spinner in Ravi Bishnoi to take the advantage of this loophole in Morgan’s batting. 

Bishnoi’s major weapon are his googlies. Since 2020, Bishnoi has the most efficient googly in the competition: 17 wickets at an average of 13.71 with an economy of under six - inducing a false shot of over 30% from his googlies. As far as numbers against LHBs are concerned, only Varun Chakravarthy’s googlies have been more efficient. Bishnoi’s stats are superb as well: 8 wickets at an average of 13.38 with an economy of 6.69 and drawing a false shot off over 28% off his deliveries.

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Morgan has been dismissed twice while facing 50 googlies since 2020. The southpaw has a modest strike rate of 122 with a dot-ball percentage of exactly 42%, and playing a false shot on 24% of total googlies.

Bishnoi and Morgan have already faced each other in three innings, and the Indian youngster has comfortably got the better of Morgan. Morgan averages exactly 6 with a strike rate of 54.54 while being dismissed twice in 22 balls. 

Shami’s bouncers are also a big threat:

Apart from the issues he faces against spinners in Asia, Morgan has another chunk in his armour: well-directed bouncers at a high pace. Since 2020 in the IPL, Morgan has been dismissed thrice while facing just 20 bouncers. The KKR captain is a compulsive puller of the ball, and loses his control while pulling. To check his scoring rate, pushing him on the back foot is a good idea. While facing 54 short-balls (excluding bouncers) against pacers on the back foot since 2020, Morgan scores at just  5.33 RPO with a dot-ball percentage of 53.7%.

Shami bowls excellent bouncers in general, and the numbers validate it. While bowling 34 bouncers in the IPL since 2020, the right-arm quick has scalped 5 wickets at 11.4 runs apiece and inducing 31.43% false shots. 

He can look to bowl short balls and bouncers to Morgan from the over-the-wicket. Against left-handed batsmen in the IPL since 2020, five out of six wickets from short balls and bouncers have come through the (37) balls pitching in the leg-stump and outside the leg-stump line. 

If the pitch fairly assists spinners, Punjab can also try out Deepak Hooda and Aiden Markram against Morgan. Thus, the KKR skipper will find it tough to negotiate against the Kings and will have to fight hard to enjoy a good outing. 



I am a freelance cricket writer for The Quint, Cricket.com, CricXtasy and Sportskeeda. My articles, which generally revolve around the Indian cricket team and the IPL, present a data-driven analysis. Cheering for the Indian cricket team and Data Analysis are my hobbies. I tweet at @mainlycricket.