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IPL 2014 – KKR vs KXIP: Clinical KKR Hit Their Straps

By on May 11, 2014

Kolkata Knight Riders 150 for 1 (Gambhir 63*, Uthappa 46) beat Kings XI Punjab 149 for 8 (Sehwag 72, Chawla 3-19) by nine wickets…

If Mumbai Indians’ defeat of Kings XI Punjab was a surprise, the Kolkata Knight Riders’ performance against the table-toppers at Cuttack on Sunday was clinical. Their stint during the first leg in the UAE was disappointing, but since their return to India, KKR have hit their straps and are looking good enough to make the last four this season.

IPL 2014 - KKR vs KXIP: Gautam GambhirWhile some teams, KXIP and Chennai Super Kings in particular, found the right combinations early in the tournament, KKR struggled with theirs, especially in finding the right opening partnership.

As soon as Robin Uthappa was promoted up the order to partner Gautam Gambhir, they have looked a different team with the bat.

Gambhir wasted no time in finding form as soon as the tournament returned to India, and has cashed in on the starts he has got by posting three consecutive half-centuries.

Uthappa, on the other hand, admitted he was most suited to opening the innings, and has owned the position since he got there, even as KKR may have had difficulty dealing with so many potential openers and egos in the team.

“Robin’s taken a lot of pressure of me since he started opening,” Gambhir said after Sunday’s game, indicating the struggles they had to find a settled opening combination. Gambhir and Kallis both like taking time to settle in, and it wasn’t helping their cause. That Uthappa is in form and can take charge with his free-stroking ways has freed up Gambhir to play himself in.

Kallis wasn’t needed in the team’s nine-wicket victory against KXIP as Manish Pandey knocked off the remaining runs after Uthappa’s wicket, and therein lies a crucial factor in how they use their veteran South African in their batting lineup.

Morne Morkel made a strong return to the XI after a few indifferent games where he was taken for plenty, as he found out in the UAE, where he was taken for 1 for 40 against RR, 0 for 34 against RCB and 2 for 41 against DD. Morkel tends to be predictable with his lengths, and a pitch without much bounce renders his type of bowling ineffective, an issue KKR would need to address by playing him smartly. Shakib-al-Hasan, the Bangladesh allrounder missed out on Sunday for Morkel. KKR are one of the few teams brimming with spinners, and their interchanging to suit the right conditions puts them at a liberty.

Shakib’s absence on Sunday meant Piyush Chawla was drafted in, and he returned 3 for 19, including the wickets of Glenn Maxwell and Virender Sehwag. Chawla has had a good IPL, but two wicketless games consigned him to the sidelines. Leaving Chawla out of the equation won’t be the best idea on surfaces where legspinners have done well in the competition.

The top three in the IPL points table look more or less certain to make the play-offs, and KKR are holding onto the fourth spot for now. Right combinations from hereon could make the 2012 champions dream a bit bigger.

Source: gocricket

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