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Analysis

Did too much intent trip up KKR on a tacky track?

The conditions on offer - and the fight they put up in nearly defending 128 - made a good case to rein in their typically aggressive approach and aim for 150

Sidharth Monga
Sidharth Monga
30-Mar-2022
If Royal Challengers Bangalore had won the game easily, we wouldn't be asking ourselves this question. For we were playing at venue where 206 was chased down in the last match, and where dew was always going to play a big part. So if you are going to lose with a 170-180, may as well risk getting bowled out for 130 in an attempt to go for 220. And Kolkata Knight Riders are a team that that don't die wondering. They'd rather lose big chasing an improbable win rather than lose respectably.
However, this pitch was different. Even with the dew, the KKR bowlers came within one good throw of putting RCB under extreme pressure. As the KKR coach Brendon McCullum said, there was spongy tennis-ball-like bounce on the pitch, which made it extremely difficult to play shots at will. And in these conditions, KKR lost eight of their 10 wickets to boundary attempts despite the score suggesting they could get bowled out cheaply if they kept doing so.
That's how T20 is supposed to be played on most occasions really. That's how KKR play too. But could they have read the conditions better on the night and perhaps looked to push for 150 or so? Especially given how close they came to defending 128 after having not played seven balls of their allotment.
If there is one coach who will not fret over this, though, it is McCullum.
"I actually loved the intent to be honest," McCullum said. "I thought the intent was great. You back the fact that you played the extra batter, and you played a long batting line-up. You don't anticipate being bowled out obviously.
"Honestly I felt we didn't have a lot of luck today. Every time we sort of went for our aggressive option, we seemed to find a fielder or things didn't quite go our way. That can happen sometimes. But I want us to continue to keep that intent because that served us so well last year. The way we set our teams up at the auction, and the players we picked, it suits them as well.
"Sometimes you are going to go a little bit too hard, but if we can add a little bit of craft on the wickets we come up against and look to use the bounce as our friend rather than our foe, it gives us a good chance. Not quite enough runs tonight but I was pleased with our intent. A little bit of luck, and things would have been different."
It is rather interesting that McCullum feels being aggressive all the way is the style of play that suits his side. For most parts it is true. They are a side that looks to use the best of Sunil Narine the batter, Andre Russell is the fulcrum of this side, and McCullum himself encourages aggressive play whenever in doubt. The opening partnership, though, is a little at odds with that approach: Venkatesh Iyer and Ajinkya Rahane are both more of anchors. Perhaps the arrival of Aaron Finch will resolve that issue.
There was a threat to the aggressive core of their side as Russell didn't seem a 100% fit towards the end of the match. Consequently Venkatesh had to bowl one of his overs at the death.
"Dre had run around the boundary and dived, and unfortunately picked up a little bit of bump," McCullum said. "His shoulder was a little bit sore. But Dre being Dre, he still wants to try to get the job done, and he wasn't quite able to. Those are things which happen in low-scoring games."
KKR will be hoping it is no more than just a bump as they look to continue playing aggressively over the rest of the tournament.

Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo