There was an indication throughout the IPL that all wasn't well in the Kolkata Knight Riders camp. Contradictory statements from the players and team management regarding Andre Russell's batting position furthered that suspicion, before the situation escalated to the point where the allrounder questioned some of the decision making, besides adding that the atmosphere around the team hadn't been the healthiest.
Simon Katich, the KKR assistant coach, reiterated that the dynamic within the group had started to change during the course of their six-match losing streak and that's something that they'll have to work on as a group going forward.
To finish where we did is probably what we deserved given how our season wentSimon Katich, KKR assistant coach
"Can't hide from the fact that there was tension," he said at the press conference. "That was pretty evident from the last few games after we got on a bit of a roll with losses. We've got to address that as a group. What is so important in the IPL is the dynamic if the group and I guess the unity. That's something that KKR is very very proud of. It's a very successful franchise and it's something that everyone involved has worked very very hard to contribute to over a long period of time. That's something we have to certainly work at to get better at it because there's no doubt that throughout this campaign, the dynamic within our group has certainly changed."
Despite that, KKR came into this game against Mumbai Indians with a very good chance of making the playoffs. All they had to do was win.
But the combination of Lasith Malinga, Hardik Pandya and Jasprit Bumrah were too difficult to handle. So much so that after being 49 for 0 at the end of the Powerplay, they finished 133 for 7.
"It did go wrong, that's for sure," Katich said. "Today is obviously disappointing but it's a tough ask coming to Mumbai, we don't obviously have great record here [It was KKR's sixth straight defeat at Wankhede]. Yes, it would have been great to win today and get through but to finish where we did is probably what we deserved given how our season went."
Looking back at a season that began brightly with four wins in five matches, Katich rued the home defeats against Royal Challengers Bangalore and Rajasthan Royals the most, which he felt came back to hurt them in the end, given that one more win would have secured a playoff spot.
"We had a very good start but it fell away badly through that middle phase of the tournament," he said.
"If you look back on our season, the two missed opportunities we had were in the matches against Royal Challengers Bangalore and Rajasthan Royals. We hadn't played well through the season but to lose those two games was always going to come back and hurt us in the end. When you look back in the end, that's what probably catches up with you, when you don't win at home, where that wicket suits our style of play, particularly our batsmen, given how flat it's been."
Katich's sentiments were echoed by the captain Dinesh Karthik, who conceded Knight Riders had a lot of work to do to get back to their best.
"Through the whole tournament, we've been good a lot of times, bad at a lot of times, but this tournament is such that we had to play consistent cricket and we were not up to the mark," he said at the post-match presentation. "It's been decent. I don't think it's the best season that we've had. There's definitely a lot of areas for us to improve and come back stronger next time."