IPL 2021: Why KKR skipper Eoin Morgan employs spin-heavy powerplays against MI

  • Morgan swears by the numbers that his analyst throws up and match-ups is an integral buzz word in the KKR engine room.
Eoin Morgan has been spot on with his decision-making as captain. (KKR/Twitter)
Eoin Morgan has been spot on with his decision-making as captain. (KKR/Twitter)
Updated on Sep 24, 2021 09:39 AM IST
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ByRasesh Mandani, Mumbai

One has seen enough evidence of Eoin Morgan and his tactical daredevilry as captain for England and Kolkata Knight Riders. It took some time for England to get used to his all-out attacking ploy in one-day cricket. His unconventional methods are yet to reap the rewards for KKR. Morgan though sticks to deploying disruptive game plans and T20 cricket gives him that allowance. 

He decided to employ a spin-heavy powerplay against Mumbai Indians. KKR has used more spin than any other IPL side this season, 49 % according to CricViz. But 65 percent of spin in the first six overs was unusual because the match was at Abu Dhabi where fast bowlers have had a greater say. In Lockie Ferguson, Prasidh Krishna and Andre Russell, KKR did have express bowlers. 

Also Read | IPL 2021 Full Coverage

But Morgan swears by the numbers that his analyst throws up and match-ups is an integral buzz word in the KKR engine room. Rohit Sharma and Quinton de Kock like pace on the ball when the field is in. So, KKR decided to go spin heavy. Now, Mumbai Indians had seen this ploy in their last encounter in Chennai where five powerplay overs were bowled by KKR spinners. This time we saw four overs of spin. But the idea was the same, to arrest the free-flowing blades of the MI openers.

Also Read | IPL 2021, MI vs KKR, Match Highlights

In that previous clash, KKR played the experienced Harbhajan Singh just to bowl the first over of the game. This time, they found another off-spinner to bowl the first over. One of their batters - part-timer Nitish Rana with all of seven IPL wickets in six seasons was nominated to bowl to Rohit Sharma, in the form of his life. Quirky? Yes. Attacking? No. But clearly a pre-decided plan devised by the dugout. As it turned out, Mumbai got only five runs off the opening over despite a first ball boundary by Sharma. 

With KKR having two of the best mystery spinners going around in their side in Sunil Narine and Varun Chakravarthy, three more overs of spin followed. But they were up against batters of high pedigree, who managed to up their game. While Sharma rarely goes into top gear from the start, de Kock thought of taking a few more risks. He brought out the reverse sweep to surprise Narine and snatched a boundary off the final ball of the third over. 

Sharma then got in the act to get boundaries off the next two Chakravarthy deliveries; an against-the-spin lofted boundary over mid-off, followed by a sweep to the leg-side boundary. That flurry of fours spoiled their spin-heavy output – 29-0 off the first four overs. But that sat well with KKR’s think tank. 

“We didn’t bowl badly by any stretch of imagination,” head coach Brendon McCullum said mid-match. “We started very well. It’s credit to Rohit and Quinton. They played some nice shots. We tried to take the pace off and planned to use pace through the middle.” 

When the quicks – Ferguson and Krishna finally came on to bowl in the next two overs, de Kock got stuck into them with three sixes. 56/0 in the powerplay. 27 runs off 12 balls of seam, 29 runs off 24 balls of spin. Given KKR were prepared for a 180-run chase according to McCullum, and MI finished with 155, they wouldn’t be disappointed. Narine who was a match-up to Sharma with eight previous dismissals, got his man again in the 10th over.IP


    Rasesh Mandani loves a straight drive. He has been covering cricket, the governance and business side of sport for close to two decades. He writes and video blogs for HT.

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