Kolkata Knight Riders v South Australia, CLT20 2011, Hyderabad September 27, 2011

Knight Riders need a reshuffle

Kolkata Knight Riders need a fresh approach to their batting after another defeat

Where are Kolkata Knight Riders going wrong? They do not seem to be playing particularly poorly yet today's loss was their third on the trot after a close come-from-behind win against Auckland. Their batsmen have scored more runs than the previous game on every occasion in the tournament without really imposing themselves on the opposition. Their bowlers has built pressure only for a costly over here and there to take the game away in the end. There are no glaring issues but the margin for error is minuscule in this compressed format and small errors get magnified.

Jacques Kallis, Gautam Gambhir (Shreevats Goswami earlier) and Manoj Tiwary - with career strike-rates of 113.65, 121.18 and 117.67 - are batsmen who like to take their time to get going, even in Twenty20s. At the moment, they come one after the other in the batting order. It leaves Yusuf Pathan and Ryan ten Doeschate with too much to do.

ten Doeschate, who strikes above 130, has clearly been under-used. Today, he came in at No.7 with the asking rate touching an improbable 15. He did showcase his ability with a 16-ball 32 but that had no impact apart from reducing the margin of defeat. How much would a similar innings have helped Kolkata had it come earlier in the chase? Instead Shakib Al Hasan, who strikes at 105.96, was sent in at No.3.

While Gambhir has the class and Kallis is the anchor of the line-up, Tiwary has struggled to accelerate in the middle stages against bowling attacks of a standard slightly higher than those he faces in the IPL. There is a clear case for shuffling the batting order. If the Knight Riders feel that Yusuf's raw power is required at the death, at least ten Doeschate's calibre demands that he be moved a couple of places higher. Gambhir admitted that with the benefit of hindsight, he could have done that.

"You are always wiser after the event," Gambhir said. "The way he was hitting the ball, I could have sent him up the order. But we need someone to finish games as well. It's about the team. Wherever the support staff and the team management think he is going to contribute the maximum, we are going to use him at that number."

ten Doeschate also has 60 wickets with his medium-pace at an economy rate just under eight but he hasn't bowled a single delivery in this tournament. The Knight Riders have reasoned that the pitch in Hyderabad was more conducive to spin but it was a Yusuf over in both losses in the main tournament that turned the momentum firmly against them. While Yusuf is a useful bowler at times, there can be no harm in giving ten Doeschate a go as well, especially given that the second seamer has leaked runs throughout.

Gambhir is an extremely proud competitor and he knows that the Knight Riders sorely need a win with the losses having put them on the brink of elimination. "When you lose, you haven't done things right. Till the time you don't win, you are not doing well. When I walk onto the field, it's about winning. It is not about playing good cricket. You must have heard that saying, 'you don't need to think about the result, you need to think about the process'. But for me, when you are playing competitive sport, it is about winning. People can say that we are not playing that badly, but we are not crossing the line."

The Knight Riders run into familiar opposition in the Royal Challengers Bangalore next, but could do with a fresh approach which takes a break from what is not broken, but has just not worked so far.

Abhishek Purohit is an editorial assistant at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • upper_tier on September 28, 2011, 13:43 GMT

    in india we've a tendency to dub any person who shows little or no emotion to be a good captain...gautam gambhir is a prime eg. of that...he is a thoughtless captain, just goes thru the motions...n t20 is too fast for captains like him...all he does is keep pushing himself down the order and refuse to take risks...only way kkr cud've got close to 189 last ni8 was if yusuf was at no 3 and rtd at 4...just hope gambhir doesnt bcom india captain netime in d near future (btw, i strongly blv india vl have a captaincy change within a year in at least 1 form of the game)...

  • Juiceoftheapple on September 28, 2011, 12:54 GMT

    "Tiwary has struggled to accelerate in the middle stages against bowling attacks of a standard slightly higher than those he faces in the IPL." Did I just read that right? An acknowledgement that county cricket bowling is 'slightly better' than IPL bowling. Surely not! Only joking. But KKR do seem to lack the balance of a high risk power hitter with a licence to hit at one end and a quick scoring anchor at the other in the early stages. As a side note, there was a lot of Indian fans saying the IPL is bad for Indian cricketers, but what about the fact that due to IPL money, and the BCCI's refusal/scheduling they are not even ALLOWING promising young cricketers (future test players) to even play in other domestic competitions (as all the senior Indian 'legends' used to) in order to develop their skills. Surely this is a glaring mistake, and the BCCI ought to compensate a small Nr of sought after players and IPL teams to let them go elsewhere to develop in other countries and conditions.

  • soumik on September 28, 2011, 11:21 GMT

    It seems that players come together once(or twice in case they qualify for CLT20) together,play some cricket just enough to earn the big money and leave.After 4 IPLs and CLT20 this is the general feeling I'm getting.There is no accountability towards the cricket fans and if at all there is any it's only towards the franchisee(as they get paid by them).Otherwise how could one explain the behavior of players like HSingh,Gambhir,Symonds etc who are just playing to earn money and gives a damn to the cricket followers? As for the KKR the main focus has always been garnering enough publicity for the team owner in media and public through the team and cricket has never been their top priority.This was evident from the collective shameless expressions of the team owners and support staff after they qualified for the main phase despite loosing to Somerset. IPL is a circus.This whole structure is aimed at generating money for BCCI by fooling fans and making a mockery of the game of cricket.SHAME

  • dummy4fb on September 28, 2011, 9:51 GMT

    well the KKR is really bad luck team, first three years it was sourav ganguly who diverted the team's goal and now we have some useless players like, bisla, kalis, bhatia, shakib the top most useless players are GAMBHIR & PATHAN, and what the hell this supportive staffs are doing, like whatmore, akram, dahiya, and can any tell me about JOY BHATTACHARYA, how come he is still in the support staff tam, he should have sacked long before, people may recall that how badly he used to ESPN's super selector game.

  • dummy4fb on September 28, 2011, 9:34 GMT

    Brad Haddin should get chance instead of JK.Ten Doeschate and Yusuf should come at 3rd and 4th position in batting order respevctively.Why these two people comes in, when nearly it is impossible for KKR. KKR use their talent and give them chance properly. Jaago KKR Jaago before it too late.

    U people always try when it is impossoble goal as always ..... (eg. all IPL editions and CLT20 qualifying)

  • merakal on September 28, 2011, 8:30 GMT

    I am a real fan of KKR.What's going wrong with them? I think there are some issues in which they have to look seriously.First,Bisla is not as competitive as Haddin.So why not give a chance to Haddin.Secondly,RTD is wasted.Give him chance up the order.and then try with his bowling,atleast one over.Instead of giving Yusuf 4th over,he should have been tried.Or at least one over to Kallis.I think Gambhir is undermining some players or maybe he is not a good Captain,although he is a talented cricketer.

  • dummy4fb on September 28, 2011, 7:25 GMT

    They should use Haddin....He is a better batsman and wicketkeeper than Bisla anytime.....Drop Shakib

  • dummy4fb on September 28, 2011, 7:01 GMT

    I think kkr team line up is wrong, bisla is not good opener, yousuf & ten both are long handle player. but when they are come for batting every time team will under presser. so pls management adjust your team lineup.

  • AnshulNagar on September 28, 2011, 6:42 GMT

    Some Captains have a mentality that they look for safety, they fell safe if their best batsman is sitting in the dugout. I still remember a match from IPL 2, it was mumbai vs someone.Mumbai has to chase down something like 120 odd runs n SRT changed the batting order upside down. I think Bravo opened the innings, n SRT n Sanat came at no 5 or 6 Respt. N other one IPL 3 final where Kirron Pollard Came at no 7 or 8. In IPL 4, the opening match KKR vs CSK, where Gambhir came at no 6 or 7. So thats some mentality n the captains who have it cant come out of it. SRT is the prime example, many a times i have seen him doing tht. Gambhir i think is going the same way. I dont exactly remember the matches but i think i have seen SRT doing this a lot when he was the captin of India, so when he cant come out of it i dont think Gambhir can.

  • dummy4fb on September 28, 2011, 6:29 GMT

    @Spotnis - Not defending Kumble, but he was instrumental in the turn around of RCB in season 2. RCB was in the doldrums till he took over and he played a major role in leading the side out of it. 20/20 is a game of luck - if MSD loses CLT20, we will be gunning for him as well calling him lucky so far with his wins.

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