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What's ailing Kolkata Knight Riders?

Dinesh Karthik

Bengaluru, April 15: Two-time champions Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) slumped to their third successive defeat in the ongoing Indian Premier League (IPL) 2019 on Sunday, April 14, when they lost to defending champions Chennai Super Kings (CSK) at home by five wickets.

The sudden halt came after Dinesh Karthik's side had won four of their first five matches.

KKR have a five-day break after the Chennai loss to regroup before their next game which is against Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB), who are lying at the bottom of the table with just one win.

IPL SPECIAL PAGE | POINTS TABLE

For KKR fans, these three losses are disappointing, especially with two of them coming at home where they won earlier with ease. What's that has made the purple-yellow brigade suddenly falter?

Russell factor

The biggest reason is the Russell factor. There is no iota of doubt that the West Indian exploded like a dynamite in some of the games that the KKR won (against Sunrisers Hyderabad and Kings XI Punjab at home and RCB away), but the other side of the story says that it is only Russell who has been doing it for the KKR.

Andre Russell

If one removes Russell, then KKR looks an insignificant lot - such poor is the contribution from the rest of the side. Apart from Russell and occasionally Lynn and Robin Uthappa, other batters have failed.

Russell came up with some incredible knocks in those three games that he won for the KKR when they didn't look to win them. In the match against the KXIP, it was the no-ball called by the umpire because of some fielding placement goof-ups by Ravichandran Ashwin that saw the man grabbing his second life with both hands. But as it was seen in the first game against Chennai and the second against Delhi, a lack of a worthy opponent even made it difficult for Russell to carry the entire batting order on his shoulders.

On Sunday, the exits of the in-form Chris Lynn (82 off 51 balls) and Russell (10 off four) in the same over saw the KKR accumulating less-than-a-ball run in their final 5.1 overs.

In T20 cricket, that's criminal but the KKR have a little powerfire minus Russell and occasionally Lynn and Sunil Narine. Nitish Rana, the other batsman who did well in the first couple of games, has this dubious habit of faltering in the middle of the season in an IPL and this year it's no exception either.

Uthappa and captain Karthik have not scored enough this season to boost their side's chances. Over the past three seasons, it has been seen that Rana's batting averages come down drastically as the tournament progresses after all the good work he puts up initially and it has plagued the KKR this year as well.

Collective failure

Another big reason for the KKR's ordinary show is their bowlers' failure. Kuldeep Yadav, the sensational bowler on the international stage, has failed miserably in this IPL so far, picking up just three wickets in eight games. Prasidh Krishna has also failed to impress this year, picking up just two wickets from eight games after his 10 from seven last year.

Another spinner Piyush Chawla has claimed six scalps from eight games so far which is also not impressive enough. Pacer Lockie Ferguson has also been ordinary, picking just two wickets from five outings. Even Narine hasn't been as effective as one would like him to be. The KKR have picked just 30 wickets of the opponents in their eight games so far, which is less than four on an average in a game and that speaks volume about their bowlers' dry run.

Final reason

And the final reason is toss. The dew factor has made the toss a decisive factor in this IPL and the KKR have lost their last three games after they were asked to bat first by the opponent captains after winning the toss. With their half-effective batting and virtually ineffective bowling, the dew factor has made it even more difficult for the KKR to win games.

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Story first published: Monday, April 15, 2019, 14:16 [IST]
Other articles published on Apr 15, 2019
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