KKR reaps first IPL 2022 rewards for too many match winners

With three wins from four matches, Shreyas Iyer-led Kolkata Knight Riders top the 2022 Indian Premier League points standings. Their recent win came against arch-nemesis Mumbai Indians at MCA Stadium, where they rode the 15- undefeated Pat Cummins. ball 56 to snatch a five-wicket victory.

The pinnacle of T20 cricket was on view on Wednesday night (April 6) at MCA Stadium when Pat Cummins came on to bat at No.7 for Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) and stormed Mumbai Indians. Even in his first outing in the current Indian Premier League (IPL) 2022, it looked like he had no obvious weakness against any type of bowler on a tricky pitch where most batters struggled to to start up.

Cummins just started his innings with pure exuberance, breaking six sixes, each thundering more empathically than the last, and four fours to finish 56 on 15 balls. With 101/5 in 13.1 overs while chasing a moderate 162, the pressure was on KKR when he came into the crease, but it all went away in no time for his blitz.

Thought I would have a swing set if it was in my area. I wasn’t trying to think about it too much. Very satisfying to do so on my first game this season. The hardest thing after a big auction is that there are a lot of changes compared to last year. It’s a good mix of talent there and quite relaxed with the boys.”

Pat Cummins after the MI game.

It was just a marriage of beauty and brutality from Cummins that got KKR to get the job done with four overs to spare. Of 61 points required, 35 came from 16th over, played by compatriot Daniel Sams, who might have thought Cummins had an uncanny sense of where the ball would be delivered.

Similar to Cummins, KKR heartthrob Andre Russell showed his ability to play with dazzling impunity against Punjab Kings (PBKS) at Wankhede Stadium. The purple and gold brigade, after coming in chasing an under-par 138, were on the verge of trouble, slipping to 51/4 in seven overs. Russell took charge from there, breaking an unbeaten 70 from 31 balls with eight monstrous sixes, to see the target in just 14.3 overs.

…Once I started sweating, I just said I was going to go. I backed up my abilities and that’s what I did tonight.”

Andre Russell after his assault against the Punjab Kings

These multiple batting strengths from two individuals have given KKR back-to-back wins out of nowhere, and because of that, they currently sit at the top of the scoring chart, with six runs in their bag. And certainly, recent performances have made him one of the title contenders this year.

Like every year since Venky Mysore was appointed as CEO, the KKR came under fire for their strategies at the IPL 2022 auction. They retained Russell, Sunil Narine, Venkatesh Iyer and Varun Chakravarthy ahead of the bidding wars and brought back Nitish Rana , Cummins, Rinku Singh and Umesh Yadav to recreate the core in much the same way. So far, their initial plans have largely turned out in their favor.

So far, the KKR hasn’t relied heavily on certain people in terms of hitting. Their three specialty hitters Shreyas, Ajinkya Rahane and Rana have had little impact in the current season. Venkatesh, who had a memorable IPL campaign last year, doesn’t seem to be at his best yet. Still, they bowled aggressively and confused bowlers to achieve positive results.

Often, not relying too much on someone gives a team a blessing in disguise. This helps players to be in a clear frame of mind and react to what is happening.

In recent editions, KKR’s greatest strength has been their spinning heavy bowling attack. Along with this, the takeover of Umesh, under the assistance of Bharat Arun, gave them a lot of boost. With nine wickets already at an exceptional save rate of 5.25, the Indian speedster currently tops the Purple Cap chart (most wicket taker). His consistent success in Powerplay overs helps limit opponents to a meager total. On the other hand, Narine and Chakravarthy – the spin twins – relied on their familiar precision, shifting and intelligence.

Neither Chennai Super Kings (CSK) nor Punjab Kings managed to score beyond 140 against KKR. Even Royal Challengers Bangalore struggled to chase 129 against a strong KKR bowling unit. The Mumbai Indians, too, were rocked to 58/3 in 12 overs before Suryakumar Yadav, Tilak Verma and Kieron Pollard totaled 103 in the final eight overs. This of course happens in T20 cricket.

While IPL 2022 is expected to be two weeks old, franchises such as Rajasthan Royals (RR) and Gujarat Titans (GT) have emerged as title contenders in this initial phase, along with KKR. While RR and GT boast dynamic bowling attacks, KKR, on paper, isn’t too far behind them.

In all four games they played, KKR went for a “high risk” approach to batting, and largely because of that, there were plenty of misses as well. But that brave intention, under Brendon McCullum, isn’t going away anytime soon, which could certainly pay a rich dividend at the end of the season.

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