IPL 2023: KKR search for consistency in road to redemption – The Indian Express

Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) all-rounder Andre Russell, after winning the match against Royal Challengers Bangalore, admitted that his team was under the pump and they really needed that win at M Chinnaswamy Stadium.
Indeed that result has brought the Knights on track but their campaign this season is yet to take the upward curve. While they did perform in unison at Chinnaswamy to break the four-match losing streak, their big match players are yet to set the stage on fire.
Caribbean flavour is yet to work its magic
Russell also confessed that he has been “struggling in patches with the bat” but tries to do his best with the ball in hand. Already short on pace bowling options – with Umesh Yadav struggling to make an impact, Shardul Thakur recovering from an injury, and the overseas duo of Tim Southee and Lockie Ferguson failing to impress- Russell is now a vital part of the bowling setup. In the previous match, he bowled four overs and conceded 29 runs but, most importantly, picked up the two key wickets of Virat Kohli and Wanidu Hasaranga in the crucial phase of the game.
His Caribbean counterpart, Sunil Narine, had another off day with the ball giving away 41 runs in his four overs and did not pick any wicket either. Narine, despite being one of the most successful bowlers in IPL history, has been below par in his performance this season, and batters have nullified the mystery factor in him by reading him better.
However, in his pre-match press conference, KKR assistant coach James Foster dismissed any cause of concerns with the duo. “They are superstars, and we are absolutely not concerned. No problem from our side,” Foster said.
Roy brings joy to the camp
Since Jason Roy’s arrival, KKR’s faltering top-order has found some semblance. The Englishman has returned with scores of 43, 61 and 56 in three matches so far. In the last match, it was his innings at the top that set up the platform for Nitish Rana, David Wiese and Rinku Singh to capitalise and put a big score on the board. KKR bowling coach Bharat Arun also stressed that capitalizing in the powerplay was critical for KKR and Roy seems to be the answer to that puzzle.
KKR have their task cut out
With the tournament crossing the halfway mark, KKR have six points and now have to win at least five of their remaining six matches to be in the race for play-offs. Two of these are away games. But according to Foster, this isn’t a cause of pressure. “We discussed this, and as a batting unit, we want to play fearless cricket. We want to take the game on, and the position that we are in actually takes the pressure off. It is time to enjoy the challenges in the future games. We were in this situation a few years ago and made the final. So we need to dip into the confidence, and that can take us forward,” said Foster.
Analysing his team’s performances so far, Foster said, “We are at times, bowling tightly and at times we are getting big scores. But we probably need to put it all together consistently. We have standout performances in a few matches but need the other guys to step up on the same day,” Foster explained.
Key Matchups: One of the key battles will be Andre Russell against Rashid Khan. The big burly Jamaican averages only 3.67 against the Afghanistan leg-spinner and has a strike rate of 61.11. Rashid has also dismissed him three times so far. Another key match-up could be GT captain’s duel against his counterpart Nitish Rana, whom he has dismissed twice. Narine has also dismissed Wriddhiman Saha four times and could be used as a strike weapon in the powerplay.
Head-to-Head Record: Kolkata and Gujarata have faced each other twice and they have both won one match apiece. Who can forget what happened the last time these two sides met in IPL 2023, where Rinku Singh smashed 31 runs to take the team past the finish line? But according to GT keeper Saha this won’t have any effect on the upcoming game. “Such things happen once in 1000 or one lakh matches. It was Rinku’s day, not Yash’s,” Saha said at the pre-match press conference.
Kolkata Knight Riders Squad: N Jagadeesan(w), Jason Roy, Venkatesh Iyer, Nitish Rana(c), Rinku Singh, Andre Russell, Sunil Narine, David Wiese, Vaibhav Arora, Umesh Yadav, Varun Chakaravarthy, Suyash Sharma, Mandeep Singh, Litton Das, Anukul Roy, Kulwant Khejroliya, Tim Southee, Lockie Ferguson, Shardul Thakur, Rahmanullah Gurbaz, Harshit Rana, Aarya Desai.
Gujarat Titans Squad: Wriddhiman Saha(w), Shubman Gill, Hardik Pandya(c), Vijay Shankar, David Miller, Abhinav Manohar, Rahul Tewatia, Rashid Khan, Mohammed Shami, Noor Ahmad, Mohit Sharma, Joshua Little, Dasun Shanaka, Ravisrinivasan Sai Kishore, Srikar Bharat, Shivam Mavi, Jayant Yadav, Sai Sudharsan, Alzarri Joseph, Pradeep Sangwan, Matthew Wade, Odean Smith, Darshan Nalkande, Urvil Patel, Yash Dayal.

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