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Slipping from KKR's hands

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Kolkata_Knight_Riders_KKR_IPL_fielding_CricketKolkata Knight Riders has been a top side and with an aggressive captain, they always look to take the bull by the horns. They have always been happy to face challenges, so when the Knight Riders travelled to take on defending champions Sunrisers Hyderabad, the team seemed upbeat. 

Gautam Gambhir won the toss and chose to field. Going all out early on, Gambhir gave his 2 fierce fast bowlers the new ball. It was just the 2nd over in progression when Warner top edged an Umesh Yadav bouncer. Chris Woakes at mid-on seemed to be in an easy position to catch it, but the Englishman did not move fast enough and gave David Warner a second life. 

In the 10th over, Kuldeep Yadav tossed one up beautifully, tempting Warner to go big. Warner went for it but didn’t middle it too well. Woakes at long-off seemed to have it covered but he let the dolly slip off his hand and over the boundary. 

Letting off a batsman of David Warner’s caliber when in such mood could only be termed suicidal. Warner made the most of it and smashed 126, taking the game away from the Knight Riders in the first innings itself.

Digging deeper, this isn’t the first instance of poor fielding from Kolkata. In just their second game of the campaign, just when Kolkata thought everything was under control, it slipped out of their grasp. Mumbai Indians had done a phenomenal job, scoring about 39 runs in the 2 of the last 3 overs and with just 10 needed off the last over, things looked easy. But Trent Boult had other plans and the Kiwi star hit perfect lengths to deny batsmen the big hits. 

But “boy oh boy, what did we just see” went the commentary box when Suryakumar Yadav let the ball slip from his hands and past the boundary. A dot ball later, Pandya skied the ball and substitute Rishi Dhawan didn’t have to move much to reach it but slipped at the crucial juncture, dropping the catch. Or it might be better to say, dropping the match. 

A distraught Kolkata Knight Riders' bench and Gautam Gambhir were clearly agitated and it wasn’t something that pleased the hard taskmaster. Having showed itself early on in the season, it was a worrying sign for Kolkata and one they needed to fix quickly. 

But in what was good news, the Knight Riders had their next game at their fortress, the Eden Gardens and against a side they have a good record against, the Kings XI Punjab. But this Kings XI side was different. They had come on the back of 2 successive wins against Rising Pune Supergiant and the fancied Royal Challengers Bangalore. Kolkata had to be on the top of their game, especially in the field to turn their fortunes around. But it didn’t start well and the hosts set the wrong tone when Piyush Chawla miffed the 2nd ball of the match on the boundary and Punjab was away.

If you thought an angry Gautam Gambhir would have woken up his side now, it wasn’t to be. Manan Vohra was now hurried by a fiery bounder from Boult but only to see Narine squander an absolute sitter at third man. This is still not all. Woakes managed to get the slice of Maxwell’s bat but Uthappa failed to gather it in his gloves and Narine then rounded up his horrific display when he let the ball go over his head and past the boundary. And to top it, Kolkata gave away 4 easy runs with sloppy throwing and backing up later on in the game.

While fielding is one area that might go unnoticed due to the high ranking in the table, there is another very important facet that needs attention. The Sunil Narine mojo seems to have been gone now with teams identifying areas and lengths to bowl to him and catch him off-guard. Kolkata has a hard hitter in Grandhomme in the side, who albeit is an all-rounder but hasn’t bowled much. There could be instances, especially in a game like the one against Rising Pune Supergiant, where Robin Uthappa too was missing from the team, the Kiwi could either be asked to open or come at one down. This could also be replicated in situation where an early wicket falls. He would also bring in the highly rated left-right combination going.

In addition, Yusuf Pathan tasted most success for Rajasthan Royals and even, Knight Riders as a floater. Hence, the team needs to look into promoting him if need be, ahead of Pandey so as to have a larger impact on the game.

In case Kolkata fail to use Grandhomme well, they can always turn their eyes towards the No. 1 all-rounder Shakib Al Hasan, who can add value both with bat and the ball. In their last game, maybe playing Shakib could have made more sense, where the batting would have been strengthened in addition to the bowling given Pune possesses a lot of right-handers.

Normally Gauti is good with his changes but in a few games, he has lacked proactiveness, the latest example being against the Rising Pune Supergiant. Kuldeep Yadav, an effective option was kept waiting until the 10th over. By then, the match was all but gone. There is a need for Gauti to keep his head during pressure situations and keep changing things around. Being an impulsive personality, he tends to let that go off him in pressure situation or in situations where he finds hard to control his temper.

All in all, despite a great position in the table and a solid outing so far, Kolkata Knight Riders need to address a few issues if they wish to go the distance this time.

 

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