In the aftermath of their fifth consecutive defeat against Sunrisers Hyderabad, a part of which could be attributed to Andre Russell's under utilisation with the bat, Kolkata Knight Riders coach Jacques Kallis admitted they could have done things differently, and will consider doing so in the future should the situation call for it.
Batting first, Knight Riders had gotten off to a flying start before losing four wickets in a flurry, but it was Rinku Singh who came out to bat in the ninth over at No.6, with Russell only getting a hit when a little more than four overs were left. While Russell had said that a move higher up the order might benefit the team, captain Dinesh Karthik later quashed the suggestion that the allrounder was unhappy with his batting position, asserting that 'he has a clear role in the team which he's trying to achieve every time he goes out to bat'.
Kallis had a different take on the subject. "Rinku went in in the eighth over and we certainly haven't sent Andre in that early, in hindsight we could sent him a bit earlier," he said at the Eden Gardens on Tuesday.
"It certainly hadn't been one of our plans but if the situation arises then it's something we'll think of. It's a matter of what the team needs in such a situation and what the captain and management come up with, and we feel where each player is suited to play. But like I said, if a situation arises where Andre or someone else can come up the order, we've got to perhaps try one or two things a little differently."
Despite Russell's devastating form - he has 392 runs at an average of 65.33 and a strike rate of 217.77 - Knight Riders have now slipped to sixth in the points table after the loss against Sunrisers. The team had a four-day break between that game and their next one, against Rajasthan Royals at home, and they've used the break to give players some downtime. The aim is to get the team refreshed and ready to turn their season around. During the break, a few players - including captain Dinesh Karthik and Robin Uthappa - travelled to Mumbai to get in some extra practice sessions.
"We felt that the guys needed a break. They were given the freedom to do what they want for the next couple of days," Kallis said. "It has been a disappointing couple of games for us, so we thought that guys can go away and do what they want. They could go home if they wanted to, and some guys felt they wanted to get a little practice which they couldn't get here, so they went to Mumbai. Our practices here are optional, so it's just about getting guys refreshed and mentally up for the game.
"I think they are frustrated, but I wouldn't say they are negative," Kallis said of the mood in the team. "They do realise we've still got a chance of qualifying. We've just got to play some good cricket. I've said all along that in this format, it's the little percentages you need to improve to turn things around and we're not far off. We just need to do the little things a little bit better."
Kallis pointed to the team's inability to take wickets upfront as one of the major reason for the string of losses. On a sluggish surface in Hyderabad, Knight Riders were unable to pose a challenge with the ball, as Sunrisers romped home to their target of 161 with nine wickets and five overs to spare. In the match before that, they conceded 213 against Royal Challengers. Overall, Knight Riders have taken only 35 wickets this season, the least among all teams, coupled with the worst economy rate of 9.04 runs an over.
"The frustrating part of this season has been not taking wickets and if you don't take wickets upfront you are under pressure for the whole innings," Kallis said.
"I think we've probably taken 20-21 wickets in ten games, which has put us under a lot of pressure. Yes, your bowling unit is going to be under pressure, you can't quite be as attacking, you almost have to be defensive when there are wickets in hand. So yeah, the key for us is taking more wickets upfront, and making life a little easier in the middle and end period."