We need to play the first six overs better as a batting group, writes
It’s only 10 days since we began the competition in Bangalore, but a lot of cricket, a lot of razzmatazz, a touch of controversy, some unbelievable individual innings — yet as we stand on the eve of the second home game for Kolkata Knight Riders, the IPL has effectively been through only three rounds of a 14-round competition.
How can teams, players, coaches, fans, owners, sponsors, broadcasters and the organisational web behind the scenes keep up with the frenetic pace and action?
Since my last article, the Knight Riders played Deccan Chargers at home on April 20 and then travelled to Chennai to meet Super Kings on April 26. After playing Mumbai Indians on Tuesday, we meet Rajasthan Royals on May 1 and then Kings XI Punjab on May 3.
Of course, everyone seems to be talking about the controversy now. The verdict handed down to Harbhajan is close to the maximum penalty under the ICC Code of Conduct rules. I think the IPL, in everything it does, has the capacity to set standards that can stamp this tournament as the model for other world tournaments.
Returning to Kolkata, we have identified areas that we would like to improve upon. The obvious area is how we can bat better in the first six overs.
Currently teams that are winning games consistently have some power hitters at the top of the order, but also make sure that they have not sacrificed more than two wickets in the chase for runs. A quick recap on our first game, and a similar pattern emerged. The bowling department is the exact flipside of this approach; that is to create wickets in the first six overs to have the opposition on the backfoot.
A brief review of our recent performances shows that on a difficult Eden Gardens wicket we prevailed over Chargers. Scoring was low which made the game tense throughout. Kartik was almost unplayable; Hafeez proved just as difficult and they received great support from Ishant and Ashok Dinda.
Knight Riders did not have it all their own way as we had tumbled to three for 26 inside the Power Play. But the partnerships between Hussey and Ganguly, and Hussey and Hafeez guided us home with an over to spare.
We trained well for the remainder of the week, and chose the same 13 players plus Chris Gayle for the trip to Chennai. Unfortunately our top order did not give us the platform to launch a big total as it had done in our first game, again losing three wickets inside the Power Play.
What was pleasing was that from the middle to end batsmen found a way to scramble nearly another 80 runs and bat the overs through. Laxmi Ratan Shukla was the protagonist of this rearguard action and showed wonderful maturity.
With three games coming up in a row, two of which are away, we have reduced the cricket training aspect, and concentrated more on the team, and freshening up for what will prove to be a very tough game on Tuesday.
Mumbai Indians boast of Tendulkar, Jayasuryia, Uthappa, Ronchi, Thornley, Pollock and Nehra, plus a couple of younger talents — their current results do not reflect the quality of their team.