So far, IPL 9 has nearly neutered home advantage with most wickets being favourable to batsmen.
“It is weird. You would have expected the wickets to be tired, especially after the World T20, but the wickets have been very good. It is tough on the bowlers and normally we have had very good wickets to bat on,” said Kolkata Knight Riders’ skipper Gautam Gambhir on Friday.
Speaking ahead of their home game against Rising Pune Super Giants, Gambhir though batted for wickets favouring the home team. “If you come to India, you expect wickets to turn and there is nothing wrong in it irrespective of what the format is. In this IPL though, the wickets have been really good whether you see the Eden Gardens or Bengaluru or Mumbai,” he said.
That’s made things a little unusual for the men in purple and assistant coach Simon Katich admitted it hasn’t spun square. So, KKR’s vaunted spin arsenal hasn’t really packed a punch. Last term, barring their first game against Mumbai Indians, KKR’s spinners took between four and five wickets in each home game. In four games at Eden so far, the tweakers --- the Knights usually play three --- haven’t managed that.
That the Knights’ most successful bowler this time has been Andre Russell (14 wickets from 10 games with an economy rate of 7.75) tells its own story. With nine wickets from 10 games and an economy rate of 9, Umesh Yadav is next.
Between Piyush Chawla, Sunil Narine, who is said to have recovered from a finger injury, Brad Hogg, Shakib al Hasan, Yusuf Pathan and Kuldeep Yadav, KKR’s spinners have taken 24 wickets. That’s the count between pacers Russell and Umesh. Add Morne Morkel’s seven to the mix, and suddenly KKR’s spin punch seems a bit like a googly.
Katich said the spinners have played vital roles at different times. Gambhir rated them as having done “reasonably well”. “If you have quality in your ranks, surfaces are out of question. We have been a very spin dominating attack and we have got quality,” he said. “Whatever wicket we get we should be up for it and we are ready for it.”
That should make it an intriguing contest given that Rising Pune Super Giants too have in their ranks quality spinners in R Ashwin, M Ashwin and Adam Zampa.
Gambhir did say playing at home makes a difference. “When the crowd is in your favour and cheering for you, it does give you an extra boost that you are looking for especially in places like Eden Gardens or Mumbai or Bengaluru where the crowd is loyal to the teams,” he said.