IPL 2017: Kolkata Knight Riders - strengths and weaknesses - ahead of playoffs
Kolkata Knight Riders will face Sunrisers Hyderabad in the Eliminator of the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2017 . The winner of the match will enter Qualifier 2 and will have a shot at the final.ipl 2017 Updated: May 17, 2017 11:42 IST
Kolkata Knight Riders had started the 2017 Indian Premier League (IPL) season in brilliant fashion, winning four out of their first five games, but have done just enough since then to sneak through to the play-off stages finishing fourth on the table. HT looks at their strengths and weaknesses before they take on defending champions Sunrisers Hyderabad in the eliminator on Wednesday:
Strong bowling line-up: Kolkata Knight Riders have an impressive bowling unit in the likes of Umesh Yadav, Trent Boult, Sunil Narine and Kuldeep Yadav to name a few. They have their core squad intact for quite some time now but with the inclusion of Chris Woakes and Boult this season, it has become a strong pace battery. If they are to stop the Warner-Dhawan-Williamson show on Wednesday, KKR will have to bank on their bowlers to be at their best.
Opening pair: Be it Chris Lynn and Sunil Narine or having captain Gautam Gambhir in the mix, Kolkata Knight Riders have been one of the best performers in the powerplay overs with the pinch-hitting of Narine well aided by the explosive Chris Lynn at the other end. It’s an unorthodox pairing at the top, but it has been working for them with Narine handing them a few quick runs and even otherwise not eating up too many deliveries to score his runs.
Captain Gambhir: Among the other teams to qualify for the play-offs, Gambhir has been at the helm of a side for the longest period now; ever since joining the franchise back in 2011. A player with vast international experience, Gambhir has impressively turned around a side which used to finish in the bottom half of the table to a side with two Indian Premier League titles. Besides knowing the pulse of the team, Gambhir has been aggressive throughout his tenure, backing players like Robin Uthappa and Manish Pandey while executing the best out of youngsters like Kuldeep Yadav this season.
Poor run: Kolkata Knight Riders are the only side to have qualified for the play-offs despite losing their last two games. They beat the hapless Royal Challengers Bangalore to make a strong case for themselves to finish in the top-two but dismal shows against Kings XI Punjab and Mumbai Indians saw them end up fourth on the table.
Inability to finish off games: Until their last two fixtures, Kolkata Knight Riders had failed to chase down just one tie — the mammoth 210-run target set by Sunrisers Hyderabad, their next opponents. For a side that has been extremely dominant in the powerplay overs, of late, they’ve failed to carry on that momentum during the middle overs. The likes of Yusuf Pathan, Manish Pandey and Robin Uthappa, too haven’t been at their very best in the past couple of games and that might cause a trouble or two if they lose a couple of wickets early on against the defending champions on Wednesday.
Fielding: They say ‘catches win matches’. Someone forgot to remind KKR that. The former champions have dropped 18 so far in 14 matches and the list almost includes everyone who has donned the KKR jersey. From sitters to half-chances, they’ve grassed catches at crucial moments, including a few match-defining ones like the sitter Rishi Dhawan dropped during their second game against Mumbai Indians when the latter needed five off the last three balls.