Middle Overs Strangle Fuelling KKR’s Resurgence

Cricket News By TODAYLIVESCORE.INFO - Middle overs strangle fuelling KKR's resurgence. While the batters are understandably being praised for the resurgence in UAE, KKR bowlers have flown under the radar and have been quietly doing their job.

Middle Overs Strangle Fuelling KKR’s ResurgenceWhile the batters are understandably being praised for the resurgence in UAE, KKR bowlers have flown under the radar and have been quietly doing their job.

When the Indian Premier League was postponed in May because of the COVID-19 outbreaks in different team bubbles, plenty had already gone wrong for the Kolkata Knight Riders. It didn't help that KKR were also one of the teams that faced the anxiety of the virus spreading in their camps with Varun Chakaravarthy and Sandeep Warrier testing positive. These were off-field issues, but there were plenty on the field as well.

KKR had started well against Sunrisers Hyderabad but suffered four consecutive losses there on. By the time they had landed in UAE for the resumption, they were seventh in the points table and desperate for a resurgence. Most of their issues revolved around their batting with head coach Brendon McCullum, at one stage, frustrated with the timid approach and the strike rate debate. The batters have done well to turn things around and the renewed approach has lifted the side and improved their chances of making the playoffs.

And while the batters are understandably being praised for the resurgence in UAE, KKR bowlers have flown under the radar and have been quietly doing their job. It is no surprise that captains prefer to have an attack capable of picking ten wickets than have a batting unit that will post 200 in every T20 innings they bat. KKR have won three of the four matches they've played in UAE this time around and it's the middle overs strangle that has made the job easier for the batters.

In the game against RCB, KKR picked 34 for 5 between overs 7 and 15. In the same phase against Mumbai Indians, their bogey team, KKR got 50 for 3 to put the breaks onafter Rohit Sharma and Quinton de Kock took the team to 56 for no loss in the powerplay. Against Delhi Capitals, the second-ranked side in IPL 2021, the bowlers choked Rishabh Pant's side by picking 50 for 4 in the middle overs. Their loss against CSK wasn't all down to Prasidh Krishna's horror show against Ravindra Jadeja. Yes, it did play a massive part, but CSK had also scored 75 for 3 between overs 7 to 15 in chase of 171, which David Hussey felt was a winning score.

In Sharjah, Steve Smith felt it was very hard to hit the KKR bowlers till they didn't falter. KKR's tight bowling meant the batsmen tied themselves in knots because they felt vulnerable taking additional risks. That played right into KKR's hands as Chakravarthy, Sunil Narine, Venkatesh Iyer and Lockie Ferguson were able to tighten the noose after a steady start. In IPL 2021, KKR have picked 28 wickets in the middle overs – the second-most behind DC. When it comes to matches in UAE, KKR are far ahead of the other teams with 15 wickets and they also have the best economy (5.81), strike-rate (14.4) and average (13.93).

The two architects of KKR's dominance in the middle overs have been their spinners. Chakravarthy has six wickets in the middle overs and an economy of 6.81. Narine too has the same number of wickets at a better economy of 5.13.

Here's how the duo has performed so far in UAE in IPL 2021:

Throw into the mix Prasidh (six wickets at an economy of 8.06) and Eoin Morgan has the option of attaching with two spinners and throw into the mix his pace options as well. In hindsight, Pat Cummins (Matches 7, Wickets 9, Economy 8.83) pulling out of the UAE leg has also worked out for the better for KKR. Ferguson, in his four matches, has seven wickets at an economy of 6.71 and a strike rate of 12.

“The talent was always there and it was about getting the combination right. The combination is now kind of set, we got off to a good run at the start. Lockie has been bowling well as well so small little things falling in place for us. People have had time to look back at things, their performances, what they need to improve and have come back as much better cricketers,” Dinesh Karthik said about KKR's resurgence.

They say victory tastes even better when your critics are rooting for you to lose. Punjab Kings, Rajasthan Royals, Mumbai Indians and Sunrisers Hyderabad needed KKR to lose to better their prospects of making the playoffs. The hard scrap against DC will only make the victory more satisfactory. And while the increased intent of Shubman Gill, the injection of Iyer have been getting the plaudits, it's the bowlers who have done their job to ensure KKR have a realistic chance of qualifying after the disappointment of last season.

Stats inputs by Deepu Narayanan

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