After a string of below par performances, Dinesh Karthik handed over the reins to his deputy Eoin Morgan hours before KKR’s match against Mumbai Indians on Friday. But the World Cup-winning England captain’s campaign as leader was off to a disappointing start with MI handing KKR an eight-wicket mauling.
KKR is still in the top four of IPL points table behind Mumbai Indians, Delhi Capitals and Royal Challengers Bangalore with four wins and as many defeats. But if the two-time champion wants to seal a play-off spot, its batsmen need to step up, shrug off their inconsistencies and win matches for the team.
After a massive 82-run loss to RCB, the KKR batsmen failed yet again against MI bowlers as they were reduced to 42 for 4 in the eighth over. Half of KKR batsmen were gone for 61 in the 11th over. An 87-run unbroken stand for the sixth wicket between Morgan (39 not out) and pacer Pat Cummins (53 not out) took it to 148 for 5. But MI needed just 16.5 overs to overhaul the target, losing two wickets in the process. At the top, Shubman Gill has failed to capitalise on his starts, while Rahul Tripathi has not gone past the 20-run mark after his brilliant 81 against the Chennai Super Kings.
Nitish Rana has been profligate and Karthik’s batting slot has been experimented with throughout the tournament. Andre Russell and Morgan have also not been able to make the kind of impact expected from players of their calibre.
The KKR bowlers did well to fashion narrow victories against Kings XI Punjab and CSK, but leaked runs against RCB and MI. To add to its woes, star spinner Sunil Narine has been reported for suspect bowling action and he has missed two matches since then. The Sunrisers, which occupies the fifth spot on the points table with just three wins from eight outings, is also struggling. With the injuries ruling out pace spearhead Bhuvneshwar Kumar and all-rounder Mitchell Marsh, the Orange Army is facing a conundrum of whether to strengthen its batting or its bowling unit, a fact that skipper David Warner conceded.