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KKR – Disappointing show blowing hot and cold

After winning 3 of their first four games in the IPL 2022 season, Shreyas Iyer, Brendon McCullum and the players are piling on poor performances one after another. From a potential top-4 spot, they have now slipped to 6th in the rankings with 6 wins and 7 defeats in 13 games. They were in a much horrible positions with just 3 wins of 9 games not so long ago. The main reason for their poor season is the selection – which Brendon McCallum should be blamed for as a coach. Stability for a team is the most critical part of any sport – Cutting and chopping will not make the players feel confident an start playing poorly.

Former England cricketer Kevin Pietersen berated the sorry state of affairs that Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) finds itself in after several losses in a row. Comparing the poor form to that of 5-time champions, Mumbai Indians, who are at the bottom of the points table, Pietersen said KKR has completely lost the plot. “I know that Mumbai Indians are having a shocker, but KKR are also in a dreadful way. They won three of their first four games and have totally lost it since then. They’ve used 19 players so far, which is far too many. For a franchise as big as them, it’s just a horrible state of affairs,” Pietersen said. “Along with Mumbai, they are my disappointments of the competition so far” added Kevin Pietersen.

In the IPL 2021 season, KKR was faring poorly with 2 wins in 7 games. However, after the league was shifted to UAE, they turned it around and reached the final before losing to CSK. This time around, that sort of turnaround is highly unlikely. “That is a dressing room full of the opposite energy to Gujarat Titans - negative, negative, negative. Last year, that run to the final was defined by out-of-the-box thinking. They had their analyst, Nathan Leamon, front and centre, sending signals out to the middle, and they seemed really innovative. Now it seems like the whole thing has run out of momentum. Along with Mumbai, they are my disappointments of the competition so far,” Pietersen added.

Kolkata Knight Riders were found wanting on more than one front, but head coach Brendon McCullum singled out their struggles in the power play, as a disappointing IPL campaign neared its end. "We struggled in the power play which has been a frustration for us throughout the season," McCullum said, adding that the team needs to find a way to be more aggressive without losing wickets in the first six overs. We've been good throughout the middle phase and not too bad at the death," McCullum said. "But in the power play we've been a little stuck and we've to find a method to not lose many wickets and also throw a few punches and get a few boundaries," he reiterated.

KKR have used several opening combinations this season but failed to find the one that clicks. Their openers have not been able to give kind of starts required for teams to win matches. They did not persist with Venkatesh Iyer who showed so much potential last year and promptly jetted up to the National team. But McCullum would not take the blame and instead offered excuses. "If you look around other teams at the top of the table, one of their opening batters is also one of their highest run-scorers. It's an area we haven't been able to settle. Unfortunately, some of the guys haven't been in the form that they would have liked to. That happens, sometimes. In a quick tournament, you do have to sometimes change personnel. It's been a little frustrating. But the guys have been working really hard, it hasn't necessarily worked out for us but can't fault their effort." Taking about the chopping and changing of the playing XI throughout the season, the New Zealander said: "Few changes were forced upon us with overseas players joining in late in the tournament plus a couple of injuries and loss of form. It's not always easy but we need to find a method to deal with the attacks that come to us." KKR retained Venkatesh Iyer ahead of the auction but the all-rounder, who enjoyed a breakout last season, struggled to put up good performances with the bat and ball and was eventually dropped from the side. What McCullum and the team management should do is to just take a look at CSK as to how they back their players and give them a good run. They had huge problem the year before with Ruturaj Gaikwad with some very ordinary scores but persisted with him he is their star batsman now as well as for India.

But instead McCullum laid some lame excuses. "He did not get as many runs as he would have liked to. We were forced into a situation where we had to look for other options. That's disappointing for someone who has represented India in the last 7-8 months on the back of what was a very good IPL last time in the UAE. That's a little bit of frustrating for him as well. He is working hard at the nets, trying to get his form back. That will certainly be a consideration. He is certainly not out of contention for the games to come." McCullum feels teams have done their homework on the all-rounder and figured out how to play him. "It's Venky's second year. Teams do a little bit more homework, it's been historically the case in this tournament even in international cricket. It's an opportunity for Venkatesh to work on his game and improve, to come back stronger. He is a real talent, has got a good head on his shoulders. I know he is determined to take that next step and start to perform more regularly," McCullum added.

Earlier before the tournament, Brendon McCullum shed light on his side's plans for the IPL 2022 mega-auction while admitting that it was disappointing to lose young and talented opener Shubman Gill. Shubman Gill played 58 matches for Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) in the IPL before the two-time champions decided not to retain the young India opener. Gill was later picked by the new IPL team, Ahmedabad, as their third draft pick for Rs 8 crore.

Bollywood icon Shah Rukh had to issue an apology to the fans in the light of KKR’s disappointing show. "Disappointing performance. to say the least @KKRiders apologies to all the fans!," Shah Rukh had tweeted. KKR could still compete in the play off if it can win the last 2 matches – now that Andre Russell is in form along with Varun Chakravarthy.

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