The first thing to notice about the ease with which Kolkata Knight Riders romped to victory is how the overs were distributed among the bowlers by Gautam Gambhir. Even Colin Munro chanced his arm for an over in which he was getting lateral movement. Six bowlers were used against Delhi Daredevils. And that didn’t even include Yusuf Pathan who at one point of his IPL career looked a safer bet for four cheap overs than batting his team to safety.
The depth in bowling always made Kolkata Knight Riders a team to look out for. That is in contrast with other teams who look to fill their team with batsmen. Consider this: KKR did without the services of Sunil Narine, Morne Morkel and Shakib Al Hasan on Sunday. When they return, KKR might have to bench John Hastings, Brad Hogg and Colin Munro but it is what captains prefer to term ‘a happy headache to have’. And not many IPL teams can boast of that headache in the bowling department.
As it turned out on Sunday, even the second options gave a taste of what KKR promises at half-strength. Take the case of Hogg. If he is lucky, the 45-year-old spinner might play around six or seven matches. The match against Delhi Daredevils was one of those. Hogg was on the money from his first ball, appealing for a leg-before shout against Pawan Negi who looked a bundle of nerves. Hogg was so quick to sense the edginess that it took the wily Australian just five more deliveries to draw Negi out of his crease with a tossed-up delivery.
With Piyush Chawla at the other end, Hogg carefully engineered Delhi’s quick implosion with a delightful blend of traditional leg-breaks, chinaman and wrong ones. The wrong one especially was too much especially for Carlos Brathwaite who had admitted before Sunday’s match that he wanted to improve his knowledge against spin. His lesson against Chawla on Sunday lasted just five deliveries. Chawla however gave credit to Hogg for making the job easier. “The way he started to bowl, giving away just two runs and picked up a wicket. My job was to keep it tight at the other end,” said Chawla after the match.
This was one match where KKR had to do without their best bowlers, including spinners. Still it was a disciplined and laudable effort. Chawla said that the kind of help spinners are used to get at Eden is available at only four or five other stadiums. And that will give KKR plenty of food for thought. Unlike other teams, they have a ‘happy’ situation with their bowlers. That shouldn’t be good news for many.