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Return of the Knights

Thursday, 22 May 2014 - 6:20am IST | Place: Mumbai | Agency: dna

Gambhir's return to form, Uthappa's good run coupled with smart bowling has led to KKR bouncing into contention just when they were about to be written off
  • A major reason for KKR’s good form has been the performances of opening duo Gautam Gambhir (L) and Robin Uthappa BCCI

Kolkata Knight Riders put behind their four successive losses in the first half of the seventh edition of Indian Premier League (IPL-7) to record five win on the trot and put themselves in contention for the playoffs.

Only the top two teams in the points table, Kings XI Punjab and Chennai Super Kings, both having sealed their places in the playoffs, have had such a successful run, KXIP posting five wins in a row before tasting their first defeat while CSK, having begun the competition with a loss to the table toppers in Abu Dhabi, went unbeaten for six matches before once again being on the wrong side of the result.

What sets KKR apart from KXIP and CSK is that the Gautam Gambhir-led side are peaking at the right time and would hope to continue in the same vein for the rest of the tournament. Whereas, It has been mixed luck for KXIP and CSK in the latter half of the league.

KKR's last five successive wins have come chasing and very convincingly at that. Wins by eight, nine, six, seven and eight wickets have only made other teams in the competition a little nervous. It was a remarkable recovery act from those four successive anguishing losses including one against Rajasthan Royals that ended in a tie before going into the Super Over. Not only has the start been great but also the middle order is clicking at the right time.

Robin Uthappa, at the top of the order, has made a huge impact. He has amassed 489 runs in this league, only second behind Orange Cap holder Glenn Maxwell. After a mixed start to the league, he has scores of 47, 65, 47, 46, 80, 40, 67 in his last seven visits to the crease.

Gambhir has also found his form and confidence after a disastrous start that read like a binary code (0, 0, 0 and 1). His return to form coincided with KKR's glorious run though he may have run out of luck in the last three including one in which he was falsely adjudged caught behind.

Such has been the team's character that they did not let Gambhir's initial batting failures have a negative influence on the team. As team batting coach WV Raman said, "The advantage for a batting captain, and also for someone like Gautam who is experienced enough, is his batting and leading the team while fielding are two different things. He is experienced enough to compartmentalise them.

"If he was a bowling captain and not delivering, maybe he had to think about his own bowling and also about how things have to work out in the field."

KKR have shown character to bounce back from difficult situations. Raman said: "If you look at the matches that we lost, they were a case of us being in control of the game but untimely lapses cost us. It is bound to happen in T20 format. These kinds of ups and downs are what makes IPL. But now, with everyone finding their groove, it is as good a time as any and hopefully, we can collectively carry forward the form that we have showed in the last few games and not worry about what happens to other results."

It is to KKR bowlers' credit, with wily Sunil Narine and the hard-working Piyush Chawla upfront, that they have contained the opposition to scores that they have chased down with ease. Add to it their fielding with Suryakumar Yadav pulling off some outstanding catches, KKR make a complete all-round team.

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