Did the Kolkata Knight Riders play to their potential in the Champions League T20? The answer to this question would be a unanimous ‘no’. So where did the Knight Riders lose the plot? Or rather did they even have a plot? Again the answer to this question would be a ‘no’.
The Kolkata Knight Riders for sure started the extravaganza as hot favourites, after winning IPL-5 in a convincing fashion. But they looked completely clueless as CLT20 progressed. It seemed as if they possessed no grey cells and their captain Gautam Gambhir did not have any innovative ideas up his sleeves.
So what went wrong? Let us try and get down to the root cause of their early exit from CLT20.
1 - Faux-pas at the top: When the openers click, it is half the battle won for any team. But opener Gambhir has been out of form for a long time now – can’t even remember when he played an innings of importance last. And with the captain not in his element, he failed to lift the morale of his team members. Every team looks up to the skipper for motivation and when he doesn’t deliver, the entire team crumbles. Bisla on the other hand tried his best but to no avail. Anyways, one cannot exactly blame him. He just didn’t have a wide range of strokes and hence got strangulated and worked out. So once the openers didn’t click, the others were left to counter the pressure.
2- Hate chin music: Indian cricketers prefer A R Rahman music to the famous chin music. Well a bouncing ball rising to the chin is considered to be the knock-out blow in cricket once it hits. The rising ball does create a problem for all the batsmen across the world. But it is most effective against the sub-continental teams as they are used to the low, slow bounce. Countering and adjusting in such tracks has always been the biggest challenge for the Asians. The pitches in South Africa, Australia and England are traditionally bouncy pitches, as is well known and oft written. Koltata just couldn’t counter the sharp rising ball at 145+ kmph. It seemed as if the batsmen had starch in their pants, the way they were jumping trying to fend the bouncy deliveries.
3 - Oh captain, my captain: Gambhir has over the years appeared to be someone who thrived on confidence. But on this occasion he had everything in his kitty except confidence. He was woefully out of form and should possibly go back and watch videos of his own innings from the past to know where he went wrong. As a viewer it seemed as if the entire team was low on confidence, because possibly they were following the captain’s footsteps. The ‘fire in the belly captain’ that Gambhir is known for was missing big time on this occasion.
4 - Butterfingers: This has been one of the major drawbacks of the Indian cricket team. Athletically we don’t produce the Jonties, the Pollards or the Pontings. Saving 20-30 runs on the field of play is almost a match-winning effort. The Knights are an ageing unit. If one looks closely at the team, the average age of the team would be 29-33. With an oldies team one can’t expect athleticism as reflexes do slow down with age.
5 - Playing as a unit: Teams that have succeeded in any form of sport have always had players who play with each other more often than not as a unit. For example, the Spanish football team led by Cassilas is considered to be one of the most successful teams ever. As a matter of fact, six to seven of their players play throughout the year for a club named ‘Barcelona’. That means knowing each other’s game in and out and that surely helps. The Knights played good cricket in patches but that was just not good enough to survive at the top.