Former Zimbabwean cricketer Mpumelelo Mbangwa believes the constant cutting and changing of their playing XI by the Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) is one of the main reasons why they are where they are in the table now points.
KKR had made a great start to the tournament, winning three of their first four matches. But then they lost five games in a row and now find themselves in a do-or-die situation ahead of the game against Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH).
Speaking to Cricbuzz, Mbangwa explained how Kolkata had premeditated that their best XI would only be available after the first few matches. He said:
“I think at the start of the tournament a couple of guys who in their minds weren’t there were part of their best XI. So they look at their side and say, ‘Okay, you play a few games until to what these guys are not available. But when they become available, they play because it’s our first XI.'”
The 45-year-old also opened up about how the failure of some of his first-choice players forced KKR to make a slew of changes, leading to instability in the squad. He added:
“But what happens is the couple of guys get runs, wickets, and then it messes things up because you’re like, ‘Oh, but we have to make this change. And when they come out, you slide up and down. And now they’ve made about 20 changes, which is by far the most. So they didn’t have stability and that’s why their performance was also inconsistent.
SRH may want to return T Natarajan and Marco Jansen against KKR: Mpumelelo Mbangwa
Mbangwa also shed some light on how SRH would like to approach their encounter against KKR. At one point, they were second in the points table, having won five games on the rebound.
But since then they have been on a losing streak and are also in an inescapable situation like KKR. The 45-year-old believes that if left-arm pacer T Natarajan is fit, he and Marco Jansen should be back in SRH XI. He stated:
“It’s the two left-handers (Natarajan and Jansen) you want to come back to. They bring international experience and they’re very different. One is big and will bring some rebound and be back from length. The other is somehow sort right at the stumps and still yours and good in the background.”
Mbangwa also believes that not playing a game for a few days could have given SRH a chance to reflect on what was wrong with them and could help them come back strong. He added:
“I think it’s good that they got a bit of a break because having started particularly well they were able to get out of a rut. They were in a downward spiral and struggled to get out of it. “That’s the nature of this tournament. . So it’s good that they’ve had time to regroup and hope they can get back to those performances when they were doing so well at the start of the tournament.”
Considering where several teams are in the points table, a loss to KKR or SRH could spell curtains for their IPL 2022 Qualifiers run.