Kolkata Knight Riders began their IPL 2016 campaign in style, as they beat Delhi Daredevils comprehensively by 9 wickets at Eden Gardens last night. After bowling out the visitors for a paltry 98 in the 18th over, KKR openers Gautam Gambhir and Robin Uthappa forged a 69 run opening stand in 10 overs to make the chase as smooth as possible. Here are the 3 things which often click for the Knight Riders and help them put up confident performances.
#1. A bowling attack that is suitable for two kinds of tracks
Ever since the complete overhaul of the team in 2011, Kolkata Knight Riders have prided themselves on a bowling attack that can be lethal on both spin and pace friendly tracks. While their battery of spinners and slow bowlers – Piyush Chawla, Sunil Narine, Shakib Al Hasan, Brad Hogg, Yusuf Pathan – make life difficult for batsmen on slow pitches, the faster bowlers like John Hastings and Umesh Yadav are difficult to handle on the greener surfaces. Over the last five years, this has been the USP of this team and one of the most vital elements in their two IPL winning campaigns.
#2. Gautam Gambhir-Robin Uthappa opening partnership
These two have amassed 981 runs in opening partnerships in the IPL, which is second only to CSK’s Michael Hussey-Murali Vijay’s 1360 runs. Infact, Robin Uthappa’s cracking form at the top was one of the main reasons responsible for the Knight Riders making a stunning comeback midway through the 2014 season and subsequently going on to win the tournament. Thus, while most teams stutter due to lack of quality opening partnerships, KKR are almost always assured of the fact that one, if not both, of their openers are going to fire on a given day. Last night’s 69-run opening stand was yet another example of how well these two openers go with each other.
#3. The ‘Andre Russell Factor’
Andre Russell’s impact in the IPL and the KKR team has been so significant that he has become a crucial factor in KKR’s strategies these days. The West Indian can bowl fast or slow depending upon the nature of the track, field like a live wire, and bat like someone who is out to conquer the IPL. He came to life in the last season and has not looked back since. Such was his aura last year, that despite a below-par performance from the rest of the team, Russell had single-handedly taken KKR to the very doorsteps of the play-offs. Last night’s bowling figures of 3-0-24-3 indicate that the all rounder is going to be an asset for the Knights this time too.