IPL 2017 Match #11 report: Kolkata Knight Riders vs Kings XI Punjab at Eden Gardens
In a nutshell:
The Kings Xi posted 170/9 in their 20 overs, which was chased down comfortably by the Knight Riders with 21 balls a 8 wickets left through a match winning performances by openers Sunil Narine and Gautam Gambhir.
How it unfolded:
The Kings XI were put in to bat by the Knight Riders and a sluggish 25 off 27 from Hashim Amla, who never really seemed in, set a slow pace to an under-par batting effort by Punjab. Their powerplay yielded a healthy 57 for the loss of only Manan Vohra, who was dismissed by a Piyush Chawla googly for 28 off 19. The new man in, Marcus Stoinis, was bowled by Sunil Narine two overs later for 9, which brought Glenn Maxwell, who put on a partnership of 33 with Amla, before Amla was dismissed for 25 of 27, caught off a leaning edge to cover, done in by Colin de Grandhomme, who had given him plenty of trouble in South Africa’s recently concluded tour to New Zealand. The Kings XI had managed a strong base at the end of the 12th over, with 98 runs for the loss of 3 wickets. Glenn Maxwell, Wriddhiman Saha and David Miller then accelerated the innings, but all three fell to an excellent spell by Umesh Yadav, without being able to push on and put a massive total on the board. They scored 25 (14), 25 (17) and 28 (19) respectively. Umesh Yadav and Chris Woakes took the attack to a weak lower order and curbed the Kings XI’s efforts for 170/9, which was around 20-30 runs short of challenging on a lightning fast outfield and a wicket with pace.
Sunil Narine opened the Kolkata Innings as he has in the past for the Melbourne Renegades and his 37 off just 18 balls was the perfect start Kolkata needed. He and Gautam Gambhir reduced the ren rate to below 7 early into the innings by taking the attack to the bowers from ball 1. Gambhir played sensible cricket shots while Narine served his role as a pinch hitter well, and crunched an off-colour Kings XI bowling lineup for quick runs. The opening stand was worth 76 runs in just 34 balls, and it took the wind out of the sails of an inexperienced Kings XI lineup before Narine holed out the Long Off after hitting Varun Aaron for consecutive sixes. Robin Uthappa came in at first drop and he looked good for his 26 off 16 balls, playing classy strokes against poor bowling. He fell getting bowled to Axar Patel after attempting a lap shot, but his partnership with Gambhir put the game out of reach for the Kings XI. They needed just 55 runs in 60 balls, when they lost their 2nd wicket. Manish Pandey continued his good form with a fluid 25* off 16 to wrap up the game with Gambhir, whose 72* off 49 was the bedrock of the Knight Riders’ chase. The innings gave Gambhir the orange cap, and gave his team the top spot in the table.
Where the game was won:
Umesh Yadav’s 4-33: Umesh Yadav hurt the Kings XI’s attempts to put up a decent total by taking wickets at crucial moments. He broke partnerships as they had begun to look dangerous by taking the wickets of key players, such as: Maxwell, Miller, Saha and Axar Patel. His improvements across formats is a good sign for India.
Sunil Narine’s all round show, with bowling figures of 4-0-19-1 that kept Punjab extremely quiet and prevented them from making a huge total and his batting at the start of the innings, where he scored a quickfire 37 off 20 balls that immediately put the pressure back on the visitors.
Gautam Gambhir’s 72 off 49 was another example of his strong form in India and his efforts have put pressure on selectors to see him as an potential opener for India. His outstanding consistency, along with his shrewd captaincy has held KKR in good stead over the years. He’s proved impossible to get out after he’s in and has capitalised on his starts. Kolkata will hope this form continues and he will be silently hoping that his continued performances are enough to get him on the plane to England later this year.
Punjab’s middle order failed to push on, with starts from 5 batsmen (Miller, Saha, Maxwell, Vohra and Amla), with none of them being able to cross the 28 run mark. Had even one of the 6 top order players stood up and scored a half century, holding the innings in place, they would have been able to propel the score north of 180-190, which would have been enough to put serious pressure on the hosts in front of a packed Eden Gardens.
Pubjab’s bowling was abysmal, plain and simple. Not only did they staunchly refuse to change their approach on a ‘overseas style’ pitch, they also played to their opponents strengths. Varun Aaron, Ishant Sharma, Marcus Stoinis, Sandeep Sharma and Mohit Sharma, Punjab’s pace contingent bowled, ultimately too short. Their back of a length bowling was suited for slower, lower pitches (such as Eden Gardens wicket before it was relaid) and allowed Gambhir to play his signature cut shots and even allowed Sunil Narine to pull and slog with ease. The bowling was also inconsistent, with several runs given in extras and too many balls straying to leg side. The pitch had something for the quicks, one that the Kings XI wasted with their inconsistent lines and lengths. Maxwell’s inexperience with captaincy also featured with the poor decision to bowl himself in the powerplay over Axar Patel, their best bowler in the match, and conceded a truckload of runs with the ball skidding onto the bat. The bowling never looked convincing, and leaked far too many runs on a wicket where the pace bowlers had bounce and seam to work with. It was an abhorrent bowling effort where the bowlers seemed genuinely confused as to what their roles were, and their inexperience and lack of proper management, coupled with the lack of a single bowling spearhead and correctly defined roles led them to a loss with 21 balls left, throwing away the momentum and progress they made so far.
The Kolkata Knight Riders have looked very solid so far, even in their losses. Their bowling attack, with the return of Umesh Yadav, has a good mix of pace, line and length and has the X-factors that the wrist-spinners and Sunil Narine bring. Their batting, which was a major concern following the loss of Chris Lynn, is yet to be tested against a quality bowling attack in tough conditions, but the skill of Gautam Gambhir has kept them afloat till now. Manish Pandey’s consistency is a good sign for the middle order and the use of Sunil Narine to open the batting, while it may not always come off, is a good option to explore on occasion. However, questions loom over the middle order, that is yet to be tested in a high pressure situation. Yusuf Pathan, Suryakumar Yadav, Chris Woakes and Colin de Grandhomme are untested is trying situations and while they have serious potential, whether they click or not after losing early wickets (perhaps in the home matches against Mumbai and Hyderabad, the two strongest bowling line-ups) will be key to the Knight Riders’ chances going forward. They face the Sunrisers at home, a match that will be a serious test of their depth, both with the ball and the bat.
For the Kings XI Punjab, the underdogs, the Bangladesh of the IPL, every time they begin to look good, they stumble backwards. While there were several positives to take from their showing in Kolkata, they will need to seriously rethink the roles of their players. David Miller and Glenn Maxwell come one after another and play very similar roles, often meaning that one of their pinch-hitting abilities goes to waste. Hashim Amla was tentative with the bat, and his form with the bat is strange, as if he has not been given clear instructions on his role in the team. He has the experience and skill to anchor an inning while Maxwell, Stoinis and Miller pinch hit at the other end, but he typically tries to play the aggressor himself, or spends far too long getting himself in and wastes a start. His opening partner is relatively slow, often meaning a slow start, and possibly an early wicket. This bizarre batting order continues with the selection of Marcus Stoinis, another pinch hitter without a solid batting technique at number 5. Stoinis is not overly convincing with the ball either. He does not have the skill to come in and score consistently at number 3, neither does he need to play the role of the hitter, as he is coming behind Miller and Maxwell. He is followed by Wriddhiman Saha, who is by far the best keeper in India, but is far from a solid batsman. Sending in a batsman who is more inclined to play a slower, strike-rotating innings at number 6 is strange, when there are no recognised hitter after him. Axar Patel, who can hit the odd 25-30 runs comes after him, but expecting him to stand up in the event that the explosive middle order fails is just poor man-management. The lower order has no batsmen in Mohit, Sandeep Sharma, Ishant Sharma and Varun Aaron. The selection of both Ishant Sharma and Varun Aaron is baffling, as they play a very similar hit-the-deck-hard role. They both leak runs and leave too much for the rest of the pack to do. It’s confusing as to what each bowler’s role is, as Mohit and Sandeep open the bowling and often bowl in the death, and apart from Axar Patel, none of the other bowlers can keep the middle overs quiet. The Kings Xi would be better off in playing Martin Guptill for Hashim Amla, who consistently opens as a decent clip, drop Miller for either the explosive, yet highly wily Eoin Morgan or the consistent Shaun Marsh who excels on Indian pitches, and replace Stoinis with a proper bowling option in Matt Henry, who also gives Punjab the opportunity to beef up the lower order. The batting would then look solid with numbers 1-7 being batsmen or all-rounders, as Ishant could be dropped for a batting all-rounder, as well as the bowling being beefed with overseas talent. If you’re still reading this rant, you’re probably wondering what their actual takeaways are. The bowling gained experience, while the batting order will probably be altered for the next match to prevent the strange getting-set-and-then-throwing-it-away that happened at Eden Gardens.
What this means for the tournament:
The Kolkata Knight Riders gained the top spot, pushing their opponents down to third, behind the Sunrisers. They will look to retain the first place with a win in their next game: against Hyderabad at home and the Kings XI will try to move up the ranks, and perhaps gain back some of the confidence they lost by beating Delhi in their next fixture, at the Feroz Shah Kotla.
Vedant Jain is a contributor at CricMetric. For any queries or information, email firstname.lastname@example.org