IPL 2018: Kolkata Knight Riders skipper Dinesh Karthik defends batting order
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IPL 2018: Kolkata Knight Riders skipper Dinesh Karthik defends batting order

With Robin Uthappa, Nitish Rana and Dinesh Karthik available, top-order bat Shubman Gill will have to adjust to a new role with the Kolkata Knight Riders in Indian Premier League.

cricket Updated: Apr 15, 2018 15:29 IST
Dhiman Sarkar
Dhiman Sarkar
Hindustan Times, Kolaka
IPL 2018,Kolkata Knight Riders,Dinesh Karthik
Kolkata Knight Riders' captain Dinesh Karthik says the team has plenty of top-order batting options in Indian Premier League.(AFP)

Three games into IPL 11 and less than 48 hours before their fourth, Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) seem to be in a purple haze of confusion. Their batting order looks disturbed and pace bowlers somewhat disoriented. They seem to be trying too many things and after two defeats it is unlikely that the experiments will end for now.

Against Sunrisers Hyderabad, a game that began on Saturday and stretched into Sunday because of rain delay, KKR threw India under-19 stars Shubman Gill and Shivam Mavi into the deep end in a bid to address issues with batting and pace bowling. But having reposed faith in them, KKR got Gill to bat at No. 7 and gave Mavi only one over, the 15th.

Gill may be used to playing up in the batting order --- No.3 is his preferred slot – but KKR skipper Dinesh Karthik said he would need to get used to a different role. “As a team we understand that he is a top-order batsman but you also need to understand the dynamics of this team. With Robin (Uthappa), Nitish (Rana) and myself there, we thought he could go in the middle-order where he wouldn’t have to build an innings. Instead he could be free to express himself. It is going to be a little hard at this stage sending him higher up the order,” said Karthik after the five-wicket loss where KKR could only score 138/8.

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Time will tell whether this feels like a plumber fixing a fuse but it did leave Gill struggling to accelerate after going out to bat in the 14th over. The batsman who scored 372 runs in five under-19 World Cup games averaging 124 but at a strike rate of 112.38 played nine balls on his IPL debut and made three before falling to Bhuvneshwar Kumar.

With Mavi too, KKR seemed undecided how involved he should be as a bowler. Karthik said opening the bowling with Andre Russell wasn’t something he regretted given the West Indian’s pace and form. “I was looking at Mavi but at that stage (power play) the spinners looked like better wicket taking options,” said Karthik about why Mavi, who cost KKR Rs 3 crore, bowled only one over. But with Kamlesh Nagarkoti out of the competition with a foot injury, it is possible Mavi will see more of the action.

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That KKR’s pacers went for 79 in seven overs --- Mitchell Johnson in particular struggling with his length ---while defending a small target too is something they need to look at ahead of Monday’s game against Delhi Daredevils. Sunrisers Hyderabad’s pacers went for 84 in 12. “They (Sunrisers) have a good knuckle ball going and they use it to good effect. It is something we can look at as a team,’ said Karthik.

Against Royal Challengers Bangalore, KKR’s pace trio of Johnson, Vinay Kumar and Russell went for 70 in seven. It was 109 in 8.5 overs against Chennai Super Kings where Vinay Kumar, Russell and Tom Curran comprised the pace trio. To say that KKR are missing the injured Mitchell Starc would seem like understating the obvious.

First Published: Apr 15, 2018 11:22 IST