Mumbai Indians v Kolkata Knight Riders, IPL 2017, Qualifier 2, Bengaluru May 19, 2017

Knight Riders' tactics not good enough

Aakash Chopra looks at the team compositions, the bowling and batting opening combinations, and some of the important players from the second qualifier in Bengaluru
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Karn Sharma was picked over Harbhajan Singh for his wicket-taking ability © BCCI

Old favourites out of fashion
Kolkata Knight Riders dropped Yusuf Pathan and Mumbai Indians continued to leave out Harbhajan Singh for a knockout game. A few years ago, the thought of dropping them would have been preposterous.

In the absence of Andre Russell, Yusuf was expected to play a bigger role in finishing matches but he has blown more cold than hot. Knight Riders made a statement that no one was indispensable.

Mumbai Indians, on the other hand, chose Karn Sharma over Harbhajan for a different reason. This season, Harbhajan has bowled in the Powerplay and has been extremely economical. He has been stingy even outside the Powerplay and so his case is a little more curious. Because Lasith Malinga has been below par and the Pandya brothers are not really wicket-takers, Mumbai might have traded Harbhajan's economy for Karn's wicket-taking ability.

Narine out of his depth
Sunil Narine has done exceedingly well as an opener on two occasions this IPL, and both times it was against Royal Challengers Bangalore. Against better bowling units, he has struggled. So it was interesting that KKR chose to open with him because Mumbai's bowling is among the best in the IPL and the pitch at the Chinnaswamy Stadium demanded caution in the first six overs. While the chances of Narine succeeding were slim, the absence of Manish Pandey and Yusuf in the middle order might have prompted Knight Riders to take the risk to lengthen the batting order.

Malinga gets the easy job
Malinga isn't the force he once was and his role has changed, but Mumbai stuck with him for the playoffs. He did not complete his quota of four overs despite bowling well in the last game against Rising Pune Supergiant, and against Knight Riders, Rohit brought him on for the relatively easier overs. He bowled the fourth over, when the scoreboard said 13 for 1, then the 10th over at 39 for 5, the 14th over at 71 for 5, and the 19th over once nine wickets were down. Are we witnessing the end of another IPL legend?

Not opening with the best
If you are defending 107, it a 13-14 over game and your best bowlers must open. The idea is to ensure your best bowlers don't have overs left when the game is over. Though Umesh Yadav and Piyush Chawla got a wicket each in the first three overs, Narine and Nathan Coulter-Nile were KKR's best options.

The importance of Krunal Pandya
A T20 team should ideally have six bowling and seven batting options. Whenever Krunal Pandya is available and playing, Mumbai find that balance. He is a capable middle-overs bowler and a two-gear batsman. He has shown the temperament to bat responsibly when needed, and the hitting prowess to go aerial successfully in the latter half of an innings. When he hasn't played, because of injury, Mumbai end up a bowler or a batsman short.

Aakash Chopra is the author of three books, the latest of which is The Insider: Decoding the craft of cricket. @cricketaakash

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Rohit on May 20, 2017, 12:09 GMT

    Jaggi/Jackson should have started much earlier in the tournament instead of Yusuf, can't see his value to the team. Also Kuldeep should be one of the first names on team sheet be any surface. If any surprise inclusion , it should have been Powell for CDG, again should have been done much earlier. Also slow medium.of Rishi Dhawan could have been very useful on such surfaces. My squad for yesterday would have been: Narine Lynn Gambhir Jaggi Uthappa Jackson Powell NCN Dhawan kuldeep Piyush/Umesh.

  • cool on May 20, 2017, 11:51 GMT

    Surely Pandya brothers are the future of Indian cricket. They bring a different aggression & flare to the team . Ind are no more meak team like past. The samsons rishabs iyers pandyas sirajs looking great !

  • dc78ym4484995 on May 20, 2017, 10:28 GMT

    Looks like Yusuf Pathan will have the same fate in next IPL auction as Irfan Pathan had in this year's auction.

  • Dee Pak on May 20, 2017, 9:49 GMT

    I'm still wondering what people see in yusuf pathan.. He is just a average slogger who make runs sometime.. He shouldn't b picked in team in 1st chance. He is just on pension by team.. No fielding n bowling.. Laughable stock

  • Brishni on May 20, 2017, 6:55 GMT

    Kallis & Katich made the brave But correct decision to drop Yusuf. Remember it was Yusuf's irrespondible shot that led to defeat in a few tight matches in the league stages. KKR should have been 1-2 had he contributed with bat. Also that run out against SRH in a tight but comfortable chase af ter going in 1 down was ludicrous.

    Senior batsmen are meant to show responsibility for youngsters to learn from. Yusuf shows none of that. His lack of bowling and poor fielding now means his batting cannot bail him out.

    Therefore right decision to drop him.

  • sahir on May 20, 2017, 5:59 GMT

    If I had to select between Yusuf and Degrandhomme, I would anyday pick Yusuf for his experience in playing some important knocks in the playoffs. Its a big blunder by GG picking the Degrandhomme who equally ineffective if not less as compared to Yusuf this year. KKR deserved the loss the way they were handed

  • niaz on May 20, 2017, 3:32 GMT

    Lets admit one thing. Mumbai is a much balanced team. Bumrah is one of the better T20 bowler. Pandya brothers makes Mumbai team very balanced (they got indian allrounders, so they only need foreign batsmen and bowlers). KKR has not been trying to make the team stronger. Woakes was the only allrounder in the team. Ghambhir and Pandey had a habit of taking too many balls to get settled. This year KKR tried to overcompensate that. Lynn is a great find. KKR needs to keep Lyn, Umesh, Kuldeep and Uthappa.

  • David on May 19, 2017, 23:10 GMT

    KKR was outcoached by Mumbai. Some of their decision makings were questionable. Narine is not an opening batsman and could easily be worked over by one of the best bowling units in the tournament. Mumbai had enough time to prepare for him. Also, this idea of having to be overly aggressive in the first six was the wrong call, especially on a wicket like this one. They should've paced their innings, rotate the strike and put away the bad balls which probably would've gotten them to 150-160, a defendable total!

  • Dheeban on May 19, 2017, 21:48 GMT

    Oh please, Yusuf Pathan should have been dropped long time back. He played well one match this year, has been like that for many years.

  • Manan on May 19, 2017, 20:53 GMT

    Sorry guys forget to add S Raina instead of S Iyer. I will put S iyer on substitue to opners.

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