After their loss against the Auckland Aces, the Kolkata Knight Riders are in a spot of bother. They are not only in a must-win situation but also in a situation of run-rate, and sometimes, the run-rates are a bigger hurdle to cross than the demand of two back-to-back wins. Teams have been in similar situations in the past, but with two mediocre scores in the last two games, the run-rate hurdle could be a steep one for KKR.
The KKR batters have once again struggled on the Cape Town pitch and that has not come as a surprise to me. The Newlands, as they call it in South Africa, can be difficult batting at night and history shows that in day-night games, teams have struggled batting second. When you play in these conditions, the approach to batting in any form of the game is difficult and KKR batting hasn't been able to adjust.
What has added to their woes is the mediocre performance of the likes of Kallis and Gambhir. The reason I say this is because they are technically more equipped to handle pace and bounce than any other batsman in the squad. Although the same cannot be said strongly about Gambhir, but I can vouch for Kallis as he has scored tons of runs on these pitches.
Yusuf found wanting
Pathan and Shakib were so dangerous when the bounce was low but had no answer to the medium-paced Auckland attack.
For Yusuf, these tournaments are important as he has been out of the squad for sometime and he needs runs to get back into contention. His technique has been found wanting and he needs to address that quickly.
KKR move on to Durban to play against the Perth Scorchers on another testing strip. Kingsmead will be similar to Centurion and the carry and bounce on that strip will be like the first game. It will be similar in nature to Perth on which the Scorchers play their cricket, and so, it could just be home territory for the opposition.
KKR needs to bat differently. Maybe, Gautam or Kallis will need to bat the entire 20 overs and accelerate towards the end of the innings. Whatever they do, they will need to bat differently because whether they bat first or second, a score of over 150 is not only important to them with regard to the decision of the match, but also important to keep their run-rate going.
I am sure Gautam's form would be a worry for him and he needs to get out of it soon. He can push McCullum to open and get himself to number three, just to get out of that routine of opening.
It will bring McCullum to his favourite position as he looks to be in good touch and will also give Gautam a breather. He will also have to reshuffle his bowling unit.
Hopefully, Brett Lee will be back. To be honest, I was surprised not to see him in the playing 11 at Cape Town.
360 Corporate Relations. The writer is a former India captain.