Kolkata: Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) struck to a method even when it seemed madness to do so. Such rigidity against Mumbai Indians (MI), who were at Eden Gardens on Saturday without six regulars, made the wheels come off when they were over-speeding. (Highlights)
Chasing 174, Knight Riders whipped up a hurricane that produced a battery of big hits but yielded nothing. Blowing up the chance to be second in the standings after the league phase of IPL10, KKR now know that nothing short of winning all three remaining games will help them add a third star on their purple and gold shirts. (Scorecard)
Skipper Gautam Gambhir said it seemed at one point that KKR were trying to win in 10 overs. He was right. Problem was, Gambhir may have been guilty of starting it. After Tim Southee bowled a wicket-maiden first over, Gambhir and Chris Lynn had got to 41/1 after 4.3 overs. Lynn had given indications of another lynching, hitting two sixes and a four off Southee.
KKR were ahead of the required rate and yet Gambhir fell for the bait when Mitchell Johnson banged one in.
Even then, Lynn ensured Johnson leaked 14 runs in that over but for the second time since returning from injury, Robin Uthappa didn’t put a prize on his wicket. And when Lynn fell two balls later, KKR slumped from 53/2 to 53/4.
Perhaps weighed down by the number of dot balls in their last match, Yusuf Pathan played a blinder when consolidation, of the kind he and Manish Pandey had produced away to Delhi Daredevils, was needed.
Pathan went after a seven-ball 20 and KKR were 87/5 after nine on a wicket, Mumbai Indians’ opener Saurabh Tiwary said, that had got easier to bat on. After 12 overs, KKR were 21 ahead of MI but had lost three more wickets.
“First of all, we didn’t bat well enough…we were a little off the mark,” said KKR’s opening bowler Trent Boult who returned after nine games. “But Mumbai Indians too bowled pretty well on a wicket that was slightly two-paced. The luxury of bowling second also means you can pressure the opposition, click wickets and make it hard for them to chase a decent total,” said Boult.
Boult didn’t agree that KKR could need to re-look at its opening pair of Lynn and Narine. “We have followed the formula throughout the season. Power play is a big phase in the game and in other games, they set it up well for us. It is something the team plays well to. Unfortunately, it didn’t work out today.”
Having lost four of their last five games, two of them from winning positions, KKR now have all to do. “In this format, momentum is a big thing,” said Boult. “We’ve had a couple of hurdles and the pressure is now on us to deliver in must-win games.”
By Wednesday, we will know whether KKR end looking like they are running on empty or are reproducing the brand of cricket that fetched four wins in their first five games.