Uthappa and Gambhir has been impressive
Uthappa and Gambhir has been impressive

Kolkata Knight Riders’ assistant coach Simon Katich yesterday was full of praise on team’s top-order along with openers Gautam Gambhir and Robin Uthappa, claiming that the form of the senior players at the top has ultimately eased the pressure on the yet to be tested middle-order.

KKR skipper Gautam Gambhir  at the moment holds the Orange Cap for scoring a maximum number of runs (192) in the competition so far, including two decent fifties in three matches. Robin Uthappa (81) despite not being able to score as many runs, his contributions of 35 and 38 against Delhi Daredevils and Sunrisers Hyderabad, seen very instrumental in setting up the team’s successful chase.

“Gautam is 34 years of age and still has a good deal of cricket in front of him. He’s hungry and keen and he’s showing that out in the middle. I think he has a point to the Indian selectors which is good. Robin as well, he’s 30, and as a batsman, he has got his best days in front of him,” Katich with a slight smile on his face said, ahead of Kolkata Knight Riders’ fourth IPL 2016 match, against Kings XI Punjabi in Mohali.

“To have those two, who have batted together a fair bit, helps. They’re comfortable knowing that that is their role for their team and they’re comfortable playing that role day in and day out. That probably takes a bit of pressure off knowing that they’re settled there,” Katich further said.

“There’s no doubt that the openers have a big advantage in this form of the game. They get to bat when the field is up, they get to settle in the first few overs and if they settle in and get some boundaries away then all of a sudden they can do some damage in the middle overs where it is harder to find the boundaries. Fortunately, for us, our top order is in good form.”

Knight Riders Australian assistant coach also mentioned Manish Pandey’s contribution. KKR’s No. 3 batsman has added 78 runs to the team’s total in three games so far. It includes a fine fifty which helped his team throw a mammoth 188-run target for Mumbai Indians, unfortunately, they lost the game.

“Manish Pandey’s innings against Mumbai was outstanding. Having watched him throughout the summer in Australia where he got his hundred in Sydney where he batted beautifully, there is no doubt that we’re blessed to have this top order. Could do damage in the first six but also then, outside of the six overs when the power-play ends still put pressure on the spinners in that period,” Katich mentioned.

While the top three have been in stunning form, the middle-order hasn’t enjoyed as much time in the middle, and the Australian coach admits, it’s a bit of concern ahead of a crucial match at a batting-friendly track like Mohali’s. “That’s always an issue when you play this form of the game and the top order bats so well. But it’s not a bad situation to be in,” Katich pointed outed.

“From the batting point of view, ideally we would have liked more of the guys to have a hit but the top-order has done such a good job that they’re not getting a chance. The guys are preparing well in the nets and they’re doing everything possible to make sure they’re ready to go. So, until they get an opportunity in the middle we just have to wait till that happens,” Katich remains optimistic.

The Kolkata Knight Riders assistant coach after examining the field and pitch at the PCA Stadium in Mohali even as the teams cancelled their practice sessions in the evening, stated that as seen in the previous games, the pitch will most likely to favour the batsmen. “Generally, par (score) is around 170 on this wicket. It’s a very good wicket. They (Rising Pune Supergiants) obviously fell short of that and the Kings caught up. Very good by Kings to restrict Pune to 152. We just got a look at the wicket this afternoon and we think it is going to play well,” Katich justified his comments.


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