Kolkata Knight Riders had only won two matches in India before the United Arab Emirates leg of the IPL 2021 – against Sunrisers Hyderabad and Punjab Kings. With the exception of the match against Mumbai Indians in Chennai, where the KKR batting order became paralyzed, they were comprehensively outplayed by the opposition in all of their losses. Eoin Morgan’s side never seemed like they were taking the season seriously, and a playoff berth in May would have been a pipe dream.
To suggest the Kolkata Knight Riders were up against a mountain ahead of the UAE leg would be an insult to mountains. If the IPL hadn’t been halted in May, there’s a good possibility a couple of players of the KKR lineup would have been demoted to the bench for their season’s eighth game. However, they rallied admirably to clinch a playoff place and then overcame the Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) in the Eliminator last night.
In this article, we look at the top 5 reasons behind KKR’s turnaround in IPL 2021.
1. Venkatesh Iyer
In the second leg of the IPL 2021, Venkatesh Iyer has been outstanding for KKR. When starting the batting, he has provided his team a flying start, and he has also been effective with the ball. His 41-run innings against Royal Challengers Bangalore and 53-run innings against Mumbai Indians shattered both teams’ hopes and helped Kolkata Knight Riders win the game in a flash. In addition, his valiant effort of 67 helped KKR record a manageable total of 165 against Punjab Kings. In terms of bowling, Iyer took the vital wickets of Shimron Hetmyer and Axar Patel against Delhi Capitals, limiting them to 127 runs, which KKR chased down successfully. In the absence of Andre Russell, Iyer has performed admirably as an all-rounder.
2. Improvement of Gill
Shubman Gill’s run-scoring in the UAE may not have been very high, but he’s gone from 132 runs in seven games in India to 249 runs in eight games in the UAE. He made a patient 57(51) in a chase of 116 against Sunrisers, then 56(44) to set KKR on their path to 170 against Rajasthan Royals to finish off the league stage (which was the highest total at Sharjah this season).
3. Bowling Improvement in The Middle Overs
If chasing a target is your primary goal, your bowling team must keep the opponent to a reasonable total. However, in the three games, Kolkata Knight Riders lost when chasing in the first leg of the IPL 2021, the KKR bowlers let up more than 200 runs twice. Their bowling was particularly bad in the middle overs, as they failed to collect up wickets or contain the run flow. However, in all four games, they have won when chasing, they have been simply fantastic in the second leg.
4. Absence of Pat Cummins
There can be no dispute about Pat Cummins’ brilliance; he is undoubtedly one of the finest bowlers in the world. In the UAE leg of the IPL 2021, though, his absence has been nothing short of a blessing in disguise for Kolkata Knight Riders. Lockie Ferguson, the Kiwi pacemaker, has returned after sitting out the whole first leg on the bench. Ferguson’s sheer pace, power, and accuracy have earned him a spot among the UAE’s go-to strike bowlers. Also, in the absence of Pat Cummins, the KKR has used one extra batsman.
5. Sunil Narine’s form
Sunil Narine, the Caribbean all-rounder, has returned to his finest form in this leg of the Indian Premier League. During the middle overs, Narine’s four overs, combined with Varun Chakravarthy’s stint in the middle, have proved vital for Kolkata Knight Riders. The spin duo has repeatedly destabilized the batting attack of opponents.