There is a groundswell of support for the Kolkata Knight Riders and exasperation in equal measure. Nobody knows if one of the most popular outfits of the IPL will suffer the same fate as in the first two editions or will finally emerge with credit.
Sourav Ganguly’s men take on the Super Kings in Chennai today and then lock horns with Rajasthan Royals and play their final league game against Mumbai at home. Nothing less than a win in all three games will do.
Why are KKR popular? That’s because they have Sourav Ganguly as captain and, of course, Shahrukh Khan. No less, because Kolkata supports its teams like no other city does.
In this hour of reckoning, the team needs to ask itself a few brutal questions.
Is their batting order correct? Do they have the right men at the right places? Are they making correct choices with their foreign players?
Figures show Ganguly as the most successful batsman of his side. Whenever he hits a half-century, the team wins. But he also plays a lot of dot balls. His strike-rate isn’t that impressive either. Should he still open or leave it for Chris Gayle and Brendon McCullum? The answer is yes.
Is his experience and class a substitute for those who have been in the thick of international action? It’s a matter of management of resources. I still believe he will be better of at 4 or 5.
Angelo Matthews is capable of handling more responsibility than is coming his way. David Hussey is a class act and must be preferred ahead of local talent. Brad Hodge is also languishing and Owais Shah’s fate after his early heroics isn’t known.
All the 24 players have played at least one game which suggests a case of too many experiments. Am I missing a few facts here? Ashok Dinda, a good lad, has stepped into the big shoes of Shane Bond nicely. But is Ajit Agarkar a better choice than Bond? Figures don’t suggest so.
I know one can play only four foreign players but you need to make space for class acts. Chennai and Bangalore can’t afford to drop a Matthew Hayden or Jacques Kallis, whatever their form.
Now is the time for KKR to go for impact players. The Husseys, Gayles, McCullums and Bonds must have more responsibility and used properly. They must not dawdle now for these guys are big stage performers. A little faith can do wonders.
KKR need it desperately.