KKR have registered their first victory in the fourth season of the Indian Premier League against the somewhat bedraggled Deccan Chargers. Having scored an intimidating 163 on a slow, turning Eden pitch, it was expected that even with their mediocre spin bowlers, KKR would be able to make it through easily. And they did, eventually winning by 9 runs.
For now it is time for SRK’s boys to celebrate, and why not, for, this time around, they actually look like a unit that believes in itself. There are several positives to be taken from the win aside from the confidence and the points. Though two catches were grassed, the groundfielding and catching was decent. The ball seemed to follow Kallis around, as he snared 4 catches and took one on the chin off the turf. Iqbal Abdullah and Jaydev Unadkat looked good. Tendo played in this match, unlike the last one, but didn’t really contribute with the bat or the ball. He fielded really well, although he messed up a catch that he had no business going for. He bowled one tight over, and did not get a hit with the bat. So, we will have to wait another time for the world’s T20 mercenary to strut his stuff for us.
Though the Knights batted well to get a commanding score on a turning pitch, there were several blemishes. What is Bisla doing opening with Kallis? Both of them are a little slow off the hook and while Kallis has been making it up with his innings later on, Bisla, in both the innings he has had, has struck at less than a run a ball. Not acceptable. However, now that the batting is set, there will be no changes at the top, and hence, Bisla needs to be taught about running on a higher gear. If you have hitters like Ryan ten Doeschate, Yusuf Pathan and Eoin Morgan waiting in the shed, there is no business sending in a Bisla to gobble up balls. In my views, Gambhir should be opening with Kallis and Pathan, Manoj, Morgan and Tendo should follow. That is one strong batting line up. At least on paper. Kallis is batting wonderfully and is like the rock at the start. Whilst he may not score a 20 ball 50, he will ensure that one side is ticking over at a decent clip. With another hitter like Gambhir or Manoj to back him up at the top of the innings, he could really set the stage for a big score. Manoj Tiwari is playing a free game and seems to be hitting the ball well. admittedly, he missed a few half trackers today, but he and Gambhir stitched together a vital stand. The Knights today hit the nitrous button just at the time the KKR of the past 3 seasons would have choked. Yusuf Pathan scored at a fair clip, but was nowhere near the menace one would have hoped he would be. Although the spinning track and Amit Mishra’s guile did deceive him a fair bit, I guess he is not in the kind of touch he would like to be. He has to do a Pollard if the KKR are to get scores which their mediocre bowling attack can feel moderately confident defending.
Bisla also fails to impress with his keeping skills, or the lack thereof. He repeatedly fumbled today, let off a few byes and got off with all of it because there was a substantial score on the board and the Deccan boys never really charged down the score. Guess they should have kept Gilly in the side.
However, one thing which struck me was the fact for the greater portion of the game, the stadium at Eden Gardens was only half filled up. In comparison, last year, when the Knights were making themselves look like a horror movie gone wrong, Eden Gardens was filled to the brim. And this year, in both the games, the Knights have looked a more elegant, confident and strong side, even in defeat. Yet, the stands are half empty. Guess we Bengalis have taken the omission of our very own Dada rather hard. That brings me to the rather painful existential question: are we so narrow minded and chauvinistic that we would rather see the KKR team fail, than witness out hero be disgraced?
Bottomline, this is a good team, though a primarily batting dependent team. Compared to their batting the bowling is inordinately weak. If and when Brett Lee comes back, he will join the team, probably in lieu of Eoin Morgan, and hopefully, will inject some life into the bowling. But until that happens, the bowling has to be dependent on a big score and some luck to go by.
P.S.: This team can hardly be called “Kolkata” Knight Riders, seeing that there is so little of Kolkata in it actually.