The Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) stomed into the finals of the Oppo Champions League T20 defeating Hobart Hurricanes in the first semi-final. This is their 5th win in the CLT20 and 14th on the trot continuing from the IPL where they won 9 straight games to win the IPL. The key to their winning strategy is their approach towards the game. When they lack in one of the departments of the game, they make it up in the other.
In today’s match, after bowling well and restricting the opposition to a meager 140 , Jacques Kallis starred the KKR innings guiding the team with his gritty 54 run knock. The match against Perth Scorchers saw the top order fail to provide a decent start and the team was struggling at 87-5 requiring 63 off 34 balls. The lower order came to the fore as it did against CSK and took them over the line. In the match against Lahore Lions, the team fielded very poorly but the batting and bowling more than made up for it. During the IPL, the team’s top order was doing very well; courtesy the form of Robin Uthappa who was always aided by Gambhir, Pandey or Shakib-Al-Hasan.
KKR have realized that in the shortest format, it is the bowlers who win you the matches. The team had the likes Umesh Yadav, Morne Morkel, Vinay Kumar, Narine, and Piyush Chawla in the IPL and now have Andre Russell, Pattrick Cummins and Kuldeep Yadav in their armory. Not only that, Kallis and Shakib too have contributed and played their role to perfection. In the IPL, Shakib was a vital cog and played well with the bat as well. Today Kallis proved instrumental in the team’s win. Now that Shakib’s unavailable, Russell and Ryan Ten Doeschate seem to be warming up to the task.
The team had the best set of spinners in the IPL and the same can be said about CLT20. With teams still unable to pick Sunil Narine, he has found an able all-rounder in the form of Kuldeep Yadav, who is a left arm china-man bowler. Along with it, they have an option of a leg spinner in the playing XI who can even bat a bit. The absence of Morkel has hardly been felt with the spinners choking the opposition in the middle overs.
With the amount of bench strength and talent that they have in the team, there’s hardly a pitch where the team can be found wanting. A well settled opening pair, a talented middle order with power hitters in Yusuf, Russell, Suryakumar Yadav and a set of mystery spinners, complete their jigsaw puzzle of troubles. In Jacques Kallis, they have a veteran who won’t only be effective on the field but off the field as well, in guiding youngsters about the game. Gautam Gambhir, has already proved himself as a leader who backs his players fully and keeps the hunger alive in the team. The Indian players in the team are fighting for a spot in the Indian team and hence are very hungry to perform.
The team basically ticks all the boxes required to go a long way. With the momentum and form behind their back, it will be surprising to see them not win the tournament. But giving surprises is the nature of T20 cricket, and any amount of complacency can cost them dearly. But this gambhir side is highly likely to guard against any sense of complacency.
A sports enthusiast since 2003 with my first experience of connecting with sports being the Cricket World Cup 2003. Studying Engineering in Netaji Subhas Institute of Technology, University of Delhi, but pretty sure will not become an Engineer.