Kolkata Knight Riders making all the ‘right moves’: Of the eight teams in the fray, Shah Rukh Khan part-owned Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) appears to be the best ‘balanced team’ at this juncture.
Winning five out of the seven games that they have played, KKR occupy the second slot on the points table just behind Mumbai Indians (MI), but then MI have played one game more.
KKR, ably led by their ‘never-say-die’ skipper, Gautam Gambhir, have won their games very convincingly. Their latest victory against the ‘power-packed’ Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) at Eden Gardens, says it all.
With a slightly delayed start due to rain, the home team put into bat, could manage to score only 131 runs in 19.3 overs. But for a gritty innings of 34 runs off 17 deliveries, aided by 6 fours and a six by the newly promoted Sunil Narine, no other batsmen could make any meaningful contribution.
For RCB, the young Yuzvendra Chahal, ‘spun his way’ into the KKR batting line up, accounting for the wickets of Manish Pandey (15), Yusuf Pathan (8) and Colin de Grandhomme (0), giving away just 16 runs in his quota of 4 overs.
Tyle Mills and Pawan Negi picked up a couple of wickets each.
At the innings break, the game was very much poised in favour of RCB, who were expected to have a ‘cake walk’ and win the game convincingly with the kind of powerful batting line up that their roster read, with the likes of Chris Gayle, Virat Kohli, AB de Villiers, who all had the ability to win games on their own, more often than not.
‘Man proposes but God disposes’ was very much evident at Eden Gardens on that day.
KKR bowling trio of Nathan Coulter-Nile (3-0-21-3), Chris Woakes (2-0-6-3) and Colin de Grandhomme (1.4-0-4-3) produced their best bowling efforts defending a meagre total, by T20 standards.
Couter-Nile started the demolition, removing Kohli (0) in the third ball of the innings and then the land slide started. He then accounted for AB de Villiers (8) and Kedar Jadhav (9), a little later.
Not to miss the fun, Chris Woakes sent Chris Gayle (7), Stuart Binny (8), and Samuel Badree (0) packing back to the pavilion.
While Umesh Yadav took the solitary wicket of Mandeep Singh (1), Grandhomme made the RCB batsmen, Pawan Negi (2), Tyle Mills (2) and Yuzvendra Chahal (0) look like ‘kids playing big men’ game.
With scores of 7, 0, 1, 8, 9, 8, 2, 0, 2, 5*, 0 and ‘extras’ contributing 7 runs, RCB managed to put only 49 runs on the board with the innings lasting a mere 9.4 overs and less than an hour.
RCB posted the lowest ever total in IPL and lost by a huge margin of 82 runs.
At the Press Conference, Chris Woakes said, “We were under par, but showed intent.”
The KKR skipper, who appears to keep his cool, had during the innings break, after putting a very small total of 131 runs, ‘dressed down’ his team mates and made it very categorical that anyone found wanting in ‘intent’ during the defence, would lose his place in the Playing XI.
Writing in his column for Hindusthan Tmes, Gambhir had stated, “I wanted intensity from my team-mates. I wanted them to fight. I wanted them to win. I told them whoever dropped on intent should understand that this could be his last game for KKR, at least in my captaincy.”
The ‘dressing down’ in the dressing room seemed to work wonders as the players were charged up from the word “GO” and never gave away anything to the opposition.
They were successful in pinning them down and left gasping for breath.
This one game showed the amount of involvement the players can show and also snatch victory from the jaws of defeat.
The team slogan, KORBO, LORBO, JEETBO was truly justified and if they continue to perform with the same intensity, commitment and involvement, KKR should end up on the podium for a third time and could be the first team to do so.