KKR and their nemesis MI face off at the Abu Dabi international stadium tonight. But even before getting into the game tonight, there needs to be a few lines said about the captaincy drama at KKR. Hours before the commencement of the crucial clash, DK relinquished his leadership responsibilities to Eoin Morgan. Is it good news for KKR? Well, DK is by no means a Gautam Gambhir, but I have always felt that DK gets criticized as a leader more than he deserves. He has taken a few positive decisions in the last few matches and I felt that he was coming into his groove as a captain. If he had to leave his role as the captain of the side due to some internal strife, it is highly disappointing. Make no mistake about it, I would have definitely chosen Morgan as captain of my team over DK, any day of the week. But I feel KKR played it all wrong, by announcing DK as the leader for IPL 2020 and then changing captains midway. However, for fans who feel that KKR will suddenly look a better outfit with Morgan at the helm, I am sorry to disappoint them that it won’t happen.
KKR won the toss and chose to bat on a pitch with a slightly greenish tinge to it. KKR made a couple of good changes to the lineup. As suggested in my previous blog, Green came in place of Banton and the consistent Mavi replaced the maverick Nagarkoti. MI went in with the express pace of Coulter Nile in place of Pattinson.
Hands down, KKR batting looked half-hearted against a top-class MI bowling lineup in the powerplay. It is clear now, that Gill has been given the same role that Rahul has been given for KXIP. His role is to anchor the inning from one end while the rest of the batsmen go berserk from another. But problems happen when Gill is holding the inning from one end, and in a bid to go berserk, the other batsmen are losing wickets. This is exactly what happened today.
Tripathi was dismissed courtesy of a blinder from Surya Kumar Yadav at the point. Rana was dismissed by a snorter from Bumrah inside the powerplay. Captains have finally understood the impact, their best bowlers create in the powerplay upfront and have shied from holding them back completely for the death overs. For the past couple of matches, we see Smith doing it with Archer, Rohit using Bumrah for an over or 2 in the powerplay and the impact has been immediate.
DK came out to bat at 4- something that he was criticized for doing earlier in the tournament. As I stated earlier in the article, the decision to bat DK at 4 was taken in the past by the team management and even with Morgan as captain, KKR stuck to the same wrong decision. Running out of partners at the other end, Gill tried to take on the long-on boundary and holed out to Pollard. Rahul Chahar dismissed a very nervy DK, who played onto his stumps.
There is some issue with Russell this season. He is not batting badly. Just that, he is batting mindlessly. Every single bowler has executed his plan successfully to dismiss Russell. Be it, someone, as experienced as Rabada or a young chap like Arshdeep, all the oppositions have executed their plans against Russell successfully. In fact, there have been cases like today, where the opposition captain has brought on his premier fast bowler to counter the Russell threat and Russell has exactly fallen to the ploy.
Tonight he fell to the short ball tactic from Bumrah as KKR were left reeling at 61-5. Quite a lot of time, amidst the Pandyas and Bumrahs of MI, the unassuming Rahul Chahar gets lost. However, make no mistake about it, he is bowling fabulous line and length and is playing a huge role in MI dominating their opposition in the middle overs.
Pat Cummins and Morgan rescued KKR to a decent score of 147/5 courtesy an unbeaten 87 run partnership off 57 balls. Cummins batted meticulously, playing the ball on its merit, something that none of the top order batsmen had done for KKR tonight. However, this was primarily a rearguard action from the Aussie-English duo and MI were still the favorites going into the 2nd half of the match.
If there were any hopes for KKR at the halfway stage, it was decimated with the flyer MI got off to. Chris Green looked at sea against the top class Indian batsman, who played his franchise cricket-famous spin bowling with the utmost ease. Prasidh Krishna and Pat Cummins looked in pressure against the in-form duo of Rohit and QDK from the outset.
There have been many famous acquisitions by MI in the past, but QDK is suddenly making their batting look much better. Quinton with his aggressive style of play is giving Rohit the time he needs at the crease for the initial few balls and MI is suddenly looking like a champion opposition with a consistent opening performance.
There was not much left in the match after MI raced to 94-0 in the first 10 overs. Pat Cummins, Prasidh Krishna, Andre Russell, and Mavi bowled too many bad balls and as a result, KKr was never able to build pressure on Mumbai today. The only KKR bowler worth mentioning tonight is Varun Chakravarthy- the increasingly impressive mystery spinner who is making this iPL his very own with consistent performances. Tonight he conceded at an economy of less than 6- a feat he can be proud of against the intimidating batting line up of MI. At times, even the mighty Rohit Sharma was struggling to pick him off the hand. Varun was the only positive for KKR from today’s match. Quinton De Kock played a silky smooth inning of 78 from 44 deliveries to guide MI to a clinical win. Everything seems to be working for MI and DC this season as both of them are looking a league apart from the rest. As for KKR, I had predicted in my past blogs, leadership change won’t spin a magic wand on the team. Today’s performance of KKR was an ideal proof of that. Even a WC winning captain can look ordinary if the bowlers do not take wickets and the batsmen d