Abu Dhabi, October 6
Facing criticism for a below-par show despite having a star-studded line-up, skipper Dinesh Karthik needs some quick soul searching to find answers when Kolkata Knight Riders face a resurgent Chennai Super Kings in their IPL clash here on Wednesday.
They acquired England’s World Cup-winning skipper Eoin Morgan but the KKR management reposed confidence in Karthik and asked him to lead the side.
However, a few of his baffling decisions apart from his own poor run with the bat — 37 runs from four matches — has put the Indian wicketkeeper-batsman in the line of fire.
Promoting himself ahead of the star duo of Morgan and Andre Russell and preferring Sunil Narine in the opening slot over Big Bash sensation Tom Banton — who has been compared with Kevin Pietersen — has put 35-year-old Karthik in the dock. Narine has looked woefully out of sorts, managing only 27 runs from four matches at 87.09 strike rate and it is high time that the team brings in the big-hitting English youngster.
KKR has plenty of resources in bowling but Karthik it seems has not been able to manage them well and their match against Delhi Capitals could be a case in point. Pat Cummins’ not-so-impressive performance has added to the team’s woes.
The game in Sharjah may have been a batsmen’s paradise with both teams cantering past 200-mark but it’s the bowlers in a close-chase who made the difference.
The pair of Morgan and Rahul Tripathi looked to seal the chase but it’s the Delhi bowlers who strangulated KKR batting at the death.
Karthik will need to back his bowlers, especially their Indian lead spinner Kuldeep Yadav who seemed to have been under-utilised and bowled just nine overs after being dropped for the Delhi game.
Chennai on the other hand started to come on their own after three losses on the trot as the MS Dhoni-led side would look to make their ascent to top-four from being at the bottom.
Not known to tweak his side much, Dhoni persisted with Shane Watson and the Aussie veteran finally came to form with an unbeaten 83.
Chasing 179 against Kings XI Punjab, Watson and Faf du Plessis made light work of their bowlers in a record 181-run unbeaten stand to seal the chase.
The coming to form of the misfiring top order is what CSK needed to give the impetus to the side as they would certainly look favourites against a struggling KKR.
Kolkata Knight Riders: Dinesh Karthik (C), Andre Russell, Kamlesh Nagarkoti, Kuldeep Yadav, Lockie Ferguson, Nitish Rana, Prasidh Krishna, Rinku Singh, Sandeep Warrier, Shivam Mavi, Shubman Gill, Siddhesh Lad, Sunil Narine, Pat Cummins, Eoin Morgan, Varun Chakravarthy, Tom Banton, Rahul Tripathi, Chris Green, M Siddharth, Nikhil Naik, Ali Khan.
Chennai Super Kings: MS Dhoni (C), M Vijay, Ambati Rayudu, Faf du Plessis, Shane Watson, Kedar Jadhav, Dwayne Bravo, Ravindra Jadeja, Lungi Ngidi, Deepak Chahar, Piyush Chawla, Imran Tahir, Mitchell Santner, Josh Hazlewood, Shardul Thakur, Sam Curran, N Jagadeesan, KM Asif, Monu Kumar, R Sai Kishore, Ruturaj Gaikwad, Karn Sharma.
The match starts at 7.30 pm IST. PTI