<
>

KKR strong until batting shuffle causes issues

play
Tait: Yusuf didn't stand up for KKR this year (3:09)

As Kolkata Knight Riders' campaign ended after Qualifier 2, Ajit Agarkar and Shaun Tait look at how the team performed in the 2017 season (3:09)

Where they finished

Eliminated in Qualifier 2 by Mumbai Indians, after finishing fourth in the league stage with eights wins and six losses.

The good

Kolkata Knight Riders were the most destructive team in the Powerplay this season, scoring at 9.39 per over. They also hit the most boundaries in the first six overs - 117 fours. After the league stage, that figure was 115, comfortably ahead of Delhi Daredevils and Kings XI Punjab, both of whom had 92 fours. It was a significant improvement to their Powerplay performance last season, where they scored at 7.96 per over.

In 2016, Andre Russell and Yusuf Pathan were the only KKR batsmen - with a minimum of five innings - to score at a strike rate of more than 140. This season, given Russell's absence and Yusuf's poor form, Knight Riders looked to compensate at the top of the order. The result was a formidable top-order combination - Chris Lynn, Sunil Narine and Robin Uthappa all finished with strike rates in excess of 165.

Knight Riders have traditionally been a spin-reliant team, but this season the fast bowlers took the bulk of the wickets. Umesh Yadav (17), Chris Woakes (17) and Nathan Coulter-Nile (15) topped the charts for them this year, taking 53% of the wickets.

For the second season in a row, Gautam Gambhir finished as their top scorer - 498 runs with four fifties. Only David Warner (641 runs) had scored more than Gambhir before the final.

The bad

While the top order covered up for the lack of power lower down, it came at a cost. Narine, originally a replacement for the injured Lynn, retained the opening slot even when the Australian returned. This created imbalance in the middle order. Robin Uthappa, who scored three fifties in a row at No. 3 before picking up an injury, returned to the squad at No. 4 and made scores of 0, 2 and 1 in the position. In between, he opened the innings in the rain-hit Eliminator against Sunrisers Hyderabad and scored 1.

Gambhir also dropped down the order, and made only one 30-plus score in his last five innings. This meant that in a lot of games in the second half of the league, Knight Riders either lost momentum after a good start or began with a collapse. In either case, it forced the lower-middle order to be more watchful.

Knight Riders had the third poorest economy rate - 10.18 - in the slog overs, after Gujarat Lions and Kings XI Punjab, in the league stage. While they also took the most wickets between overs 16 and 20 (28), the fact that they conceded the most runs among all sides (496) diminished that success.

The missing ingredient

A genuine allrounder. Narine came close to filling that role, but he had a poor season with the ball - ten wickets in 16 innings at 41.20 - and didn't exactly make up for it with the bat either. In seven innings against the other teams that finished in the top four, Narine made five single-digit scores and his highest was 16, against Rising Pune. In these matches, he managed only four wickets in eight innings at an average of 54.25.

Colin de Grandhomme and Yusuf Pathan both returned unflattering figures with bat and ball, while Chris Woakes was used as a frontline bowler. Shakib Al Hasan, the one player who could have filled this hole, got only one match.

Out of their control

Injuries to Lynn and Uthappa set Knight Riders back this season. In both instances, the injuries occurred immediately after the batsmen had shown signs of tremendous form. They had also lost Russell to a ban for an anti-doping code violation.