Kolkata Knight Riders seem to be losing steam at the wrong time. Back to back losses at the business end of the tournament are not good signs for any team. It can be demoralising and can strike panic in the dressing room. However, all-rounder, Chris Woakes has assured that his team is still assured of a top two finish in the points table despite recent losses.
“Our camp is still upbeat. We have some important games coming up and we want to make sure that we win to qualify. We still firmly believe in the dressing room that we can go on to finish in top two,” Woakes said his team’s four-wicket loss to Rising Pune Supergiant.
KKR were handed a 4-wicket loss by the highly inspired Rising Pune Supergiants team last night. Before the game against RPS, they inflicted another heavy loss from Sunrisers Hyderabad.
These two losses now threaten their No. 2 position in the points tally. Both RPS and Sunrisers have narrowed the gap and currently occupy the 3rd and the 4th position with 14 and 13 points respectively.
A top-two finish in the league gives a team two chances to make it to the final as they are entitled to play Qualifiers. The third and fourth teams are engaged in an Eliminator.
“We did not quite get going in the Powerplay. To lose three wickets in Powerplay put us behind but we always tried to rebuild. When you keep losing wickets in T20 cricket, it’s hard to keep up with the rate. We were probably short by 15-20 runs. We were below-par and not an ideal score to defend on this wicket,” Woakes said.
Woakes also spoke honestly that there were no positives to take forward from the losses they incurred.
“It’s hard to take any positives when you lose a game in T20. Sometimes it can be called ugly when you lose a game.
“Probably, they could have cruised home a bit sooner. Total above 150 is not a huge score particularly here at Eden Gardens, usually a good pitch with a fast outfield. Par is round about 170-180 here. But we can take positive from the fact that we fought all the way till the end.”
It’s been a handful of matches since Sunil Narine has clicked with the bat. The West Indian, who took everyone by storm in his first couple of innings, seemed like a perfect experiment by Gautam Gambhir. However, his bat remained silent in last few games before he hit his all-time low against RPS last night.
The exceptional swing bowling from Unadkat made Narine look like what he is in real sense – a lower order pinch hitter. He played out five dot balls before hitting one back straight to the bowler off the last ball. The over ended as wicket maiden. Later, failures from Sheldon Jackson and Gambhir reduced KKR down to 40/3 inside Powerplay.
“I think he’s come off on a few occasions and got us to an absolute flier. We also chased down some good scores and also he allows us to set some good total as well. He’s a good player top of the order. In case he gets 20 off 10 balls I would say he got us off to a good start,” he said backing the team’s decision to send Narine atop the order.
“The ball swung around a little bit in the first over. You have to give credit to the bowler sometimes. To bowl a wicket-maiden in Twenty20 cricket, you have to be using them right.”
The hero of the match was the Rising Pune Supergiants revelation, Rahul Tripathi, who single-handedly took his team past the finishing line with his entertaining 93 from just 52 balls.
“It’s always difficult to stop a player on his day. We dropped a few chances against (David) Warner (in the previous match against Hyderabad). When you give good players some chances they take it for advantage.
“But we did not do that today and dropped any chances. He (Tripathi) played a fantastic knock. All credit to him. He put us under pressure. He attacked the new ball and when spinners came in he hit some good boundaries and cleared the ropes. He looks a very good player a guy for the future. Sometimes you have to say “very well played”.”
Gambhir brought an upsetting news during the toss time when he declared that Robin Uthappa won’t be playing in the match due to a niggle. Later, it was learned that Uthappa was suffering from a hamstring pull. His absence was clearly felt and Woakes did not deny the fact.
“It’s a big void for us. He scored a lot of runs for us this tournament and is up there with the leading scorers of the tournament. Fingers crossed, he’s not out for too long and is back for the next game.”