Got a stick? Beat the Kolkata Knight Riders. That seems to be the flavour of IPL III.
Co-owner Shah Rukh Khan did it fairly early in the campaign. The star tweeted that he was sick of the excuses offered following every defeat after his side lost to the Delhi Daredevils in Delhi.
Now, captain Sourav Ganguly has done it too. “Rubbish” is how Ganguly described his team’s performance against the Royal Challengers Bangalore in their previous match, which the Knight Riders lost by seven wickets. “God help their careers,” he said of the young Indian players in his team.
Thankfully, IPL’s code of conduct does not have a clause on a captain criticising his own players. Daredevils’ captain Gautam Gambhir was reprimanded for using a far milder term, “ordinary”, to describe the Rajasthan Royals.
All this would make you feel it is the Knight Riders, and not the Kings XI Punjab, who are at the bottom of the table. The fact is Ganguly’s boys are still in the mix for the remaining three semifinal spots and two wins out of their last three matches could prove enough, though their poor net run rate is a concern.
To be fair to Shah Rukh and Ganguly, though, the Knight Riders have been terribly inconsistent. In their last six matches, a loss has followed each win as surely as night follows day.
The Knight Riders have to change that, beginning with their match against the Chennai Super Kings here on Tuesday.
The hosts may have taken a different path but find themselves at the same spot as the Knight Riders, stuck on 10 points after 11 games.
The first match between the two sides, at Eden Gardens, was won by the Super Kings with captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni scoring a crucial half-century despite being hit on the elbow by Shane Bond.
The Super Kings will also draw confidence from the fact that they have done well at home in the second half of their campaign, seeing off the Royal Challengers, Rajasthan Royals and mighty Mumbai Indians.
However, their loss against the Deccan Chargers in Nagpur on Saturday showed Dhoni and coach Stephen Fleming still have a few problems to sort out.
It promises to be a cracker of a game at Chepauk when two desperate sides face off on Tuesday evening.