After a fourth straight loss in IPL 2022, this time an eight-run defeat to Gujarat Titans at the DY Patil Stadium, Kolkata Knight Riders head coach Brendon McCullum rued his batters’ inability to counter short balls from the Hardik Pandya-led side, adding that the two-time champions will have to go back to the drawing board on countering such tactics.
After restricting Gujarat to 156/9, Kolkata were under attack by the pace quartet of Mohammed Shami, Lockie Ferguson, Alzarri Joseph and Yash Dayal while Rashid Khan’s leg-spin kept them on a tight leash. Consistent usage of short balls, a pocket of weakness in many batters of Kolkata, resulted in them picking key wickets at crucial junctures to win by eight runs and go on top of points table.
“First and foremost, Gujarat Titans’ bowling line-up is very well balanced. They’ve got some real pace, a bit of bounce, and some left-arm variety as well. It’s a really good pace line-up and when you throw Rashid Khan in there, it’s a pretty good bowling line-up.
“The way they bowled, I thought they attacked us the way we expected them to, which was more back of length and around the shoulder region. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to counter that. We did a good job to get back in the game but unfortunate that we lost another tight one, they deserved to win,” said McCullum in the post-match virtual press conference.
McCullum conceded that Kolkata’s batters will have to find solutions of tackling short-ball ploy, especially against high-pace and quality pacers. “In the end, bounce can be your friend or foe depending on whether you’re able to fight it. We’ve got to find a way to be able to find it and come out with a couple of technical things to try and use the pace rather than go against it. Granted, though, it was very good bowling from the Gujarat Titans. Mohammed Shami, Lockie Ferguson, Yash Dayal, Alzarri Joseph, they operated really smartly.”
Andre Russell gave Kolkata chance to win, top-scoring with 48 but his dismissal in final over erased hopes of an unlikely victory.
“We still gave ourselves a chance though we weren’t quite able to execute. It’s a fine line as well, there’s a lot of those kind of balls which could have easily called one (bouncer) for the over in which case it would have changed how they were able to bowl at us. That’s the nature of the game as well and credit to Gujarat as we came second again in a close contest.”
With the loss to Gujarat, Kolkata are currently seventh in the points table with five losses and three wins. McCullum felt his team still can make it to the playoffs of the tournament, evoking thoughts of a turnaround in second half of IPL 2021 which propelled them to be runners-up in the UAE.
“From our point of view, we are developing a pattern on how teams are attacking us. So we can go away and work on that to be better next time. But our batting unit’s confidence should stay relatively high. If we can get across the line in one of these tight games, it will do wonders for us. I still believe that we are good enough to be in the semi-finals and be there in thick end of the competition.”