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Match Analysis

Roy brings the fire KKR desperately needed at the top of the order

With Roy as enforcer, they might have found one piece of the two required to make up the opening puzzle

Himanshu Agrawal
27-Apr-2023
Jason Roy got 48 runs from 20 balls in the powerplay  •  Associated Press

Jason Roy got 48 runs from 20 balls in the powerplay  •  Associated Press

Kolkata Knight Riders' win against Royal Challengers Bangalore on Wednesday was set up by a solid opening stand and a defining powerplay with the bat. Jason Roy was at the heart of both.
On a two-paced pitch, KKR openers Roy and N Jagadeesan hit seven fours and five sixes to get to 66 in the first six overs - their highest overall and also the most sixes they have hit in that phase this season. But you can't give much credit to Jagadeesan for that. Four out of the seven fours, and all the five sixes until then came from Roy's bat. In the process, KKR went without losing a wicket in the powerplay for the first time this season too. Jagadeesan's struggle eventually ended on 27, scored off 29 balls. Exactly what Roy took to smash 56.
The opening pair has been one of the biggest concerns for KKR this season. The pair of Roy and Jagadeesan was their sixth opening combination in eight innings, the most that any side has tried this season. Somehow, they have persisted with Jagadeesan for five matches despite him not making an impact. But now, with Roy as enforcer, they might have found one piece of the two required to make up the puzzle.
Roy has played just three games so far, and his domination of spin, in particular, has stood out.
On Wednesday, two balls after Roy reverse-swept legspinner Wanindu Hasaranga - RCB's best bowler on the night - for four, RCB introduced left-arm spinner Shahbaz Ahmed to conclude the powerplay. Roy responded with four sixes in an over.
"As individuals, we need to look in the mirror, get better each session and think about how we can individually impact the game in a better way"
Jason Roy
Against Chennai Super Kings on Sunday, Roy batted at No. 5 only because an injury had forced him off the field for the last ten balls of the CSK innings, and the rules didn't allow him to open in the chase. KKR were 46 for 3 in the eighth over in pursuit of 236, and Roy hammered 61 from 26 balls with five sixes and fours each. All of those runs came after the powerplay.
CSK bowled 18 balls of spin to Roy, which he pumped for 53, including five sixes - a strike rate of 294. RCB threw 11 deliveries of spin at him, off which he took 30, with four sixes - a strike rate of 272.

Walking the talk, the Jason Roy way

At the M Chinnaswamy Stadium on Wednesday, Jagadeesan and Venkatesh Iyer together managed only 58 runs from 55 deliveries. It was a slow pitch, but looking at the way Roy and Nitish Rana (48 in 21) went, the slowdown from Jagadeesan and Venkatesh Iyer could well have been the difference between winning and losing on another day.
KKR have lost more than they have won this season, and Roy had been blunt in his assessment before that match.
"As individuals, we need to look in the mirror, get better each session and think about how we can individually impact the game in a better way," Roy had said. "We have had some good individual performances along the losses, which is a bit of positive, but a loss is a loss. We [have] got to draw a line in the sand now that the half of the tournament is done for us, and we [have] just got to push forward."
That's something he has done. Venkatesh has done it on a couple of occasions. Rana and Rinku Singh have too. But Rinku, for one, hasn't had a lot of balls to make an impact, which is the same for Andre Russell, not the first time either.
Seeing Jagadeesan and Venkatesh struggle against RCB, could KKR have used the option of retiring a player to advance the arrival of their power hitters, Russell and Rinku and even David Wiese?
Only on four of the eight occasions has Russell arrived with at least 30 balls left; only once has he batted at No. 5 despite KKR's under-performing top order. Six of Rinku's eight innings have come at No. 6, although there is a case to be made that with Venkatesh and Rana being left-handers, Rinku's position lower down helps split things up, and he is the designated finisher anyway.
KKR have only three wins out of eight and sit at No. 7 on the points table at this stage. They need some magic to climb up the ladder. Their first two wins came from miracles scripted by individuals, once by Shardul Thakur and once by Rinku. But individual performances can only go so far. On Wednesday, with Roy in the lead, KKR put up something akin to a team batting performance, and they beat RCB in Bengaluru in the process. They will need much more of the same.

Himanshu Agrawal is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo