Bungling campaigns seek end to freefall
Wednesday, May 7, 2014
Start time 1600 local (1030 GMT)
It is said that one must live in the present and not dwell too much on the past. But if you are Kolkata Knight Riders, the past refuses to leave you. It keeps playing out in loop in the present, each newer version scarier than the previous one. Exactly a week ago, Knight Riders squandered a strong position against Rajasthan Royals, brought about a Super Over on themselves and then lost on the boundary count. A day ago, they motored to 121 for 0 in pursuit of 171 against the same opponents. Fifty runs needed, six overs left, all wickets intact. Piece of cake? Not quite, if you panic so much that you lose six wickets for the addition of two runs.
If points were to be earned for scoring self-goals, Knight Riders would top the table. They are earned for wins, though, and Knight Riders have only two victories from seven matches. Which is exactly how many Delhi Daredevils have from as many games. Both sides will need the second half of their campaigns to be the opposite of how the first half has panned out. Even five wins each from their remaining seven games might not earn them a spot in the playoffs.
While Knight Riders have continued to come in the way of their own progress, the margin of Daredevils' defeats suggests they have not competed, unlike their opponents. Four of their five losses have been by eight wickets, 93 runs, seven wickets and eight wickets. That last margin was after they racked up 178 against Chennai Super Kings. Rarely have both batting and bowling fired in unison for Daredevils this season, which began with high expectations from a revamped squad. Halfway into it, Daredevils need urgent course correction if they are to do better than 2013's bottom-place finish.
Form guide (most recent first)
Delhi Daredevils: LLWLL
Kolkata Knight Riders: LLLLW
Watch out for…
"We succumbed to the pressure," Knight Riders coach Trevor Bayliss said of Monday's capitulation. Knight Riders have been doing it too often. When Gautam Gambhir was not scoring earlier, it was said that the poor starts were putting pressure on the middle order. What pressure does an opening partnership of 121 bring about, though? The Knight Riders batsmen have to take collective responsibility. There is no point to the openers making fifties if the rest of the line-up sinks without any fight.
Kevin Pietersen has failed in three of his four innings so far in the tournament. He has a strike-rate below 110 compared to a T20 career figure of 136.32. Pietersen is one who leads by example, by aggressive, dominating batting that can rouse his team-mates. That is what Daredevils would have wanted from Pietersen when they bought him and chose him to lead the side. We are yet to see such a knock from the Daredevils captain.
Stats and trivia
- Daredevils have conceded 12.12 runs an over in the last five overs of an innings, the most expensive by a side this season
- Excluding Sunil Narine and Shakib Al Hasan, the rest of the Knight Riders attack has gone for 8.10 an over
Abhishek Purohit is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo