Years of trust in young guns finally pays off for Kolkata Knight Riders

Ankit Kumar
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Shivam Mavi and Kamlesh Nagarkoti dismantle the Rajasthan team


 

Kolkata Knight Riders have been a very different team after 2010. They don’t just rely on big names. The two-times champions franchise, now believes in the young guns that reflected in its 2018 auction. They bought three amazing young talents- Shubhman Gill, Kamlesh Nagarkoti and Shivam Mavi. Although Gill was not utilized in the 2018 edition, he started firing in the mid-2019 IPL season, when he was promoted to open the innings. Due to injuries, Mavi and Nagarkoti never got the opportunity to validate their franchise’s belief in them. It was only a matter of time, given the talent and skill the pace duo possessed, for faith to pay off for the KKR.

Mavi kept his calm in the 12th over, when he was brought in the third over against the destructive top-three of Rajasthan Royals which had Steve Smith, Jos Buttler and Sanju Samson. By then, Pat Cummins had already sent his Australian team-mate Steve Smith back into the pavilion, who tried to slog from the first ball.  Smith was not unlike him when he tried to slog Pat Cummins in the very second over. This is when KKR smelt blood, thereafter they didn’t relent.

 

Mavi and Nagarkoti, the new speedsters of India

Mavi was mentally prepared for a flatter wicket but when he saw little swing, he started hitting the length with good pace, mixing it with some shorter ones and stuck to the plan. He was rewarded with the wicket of in-form Sanju Samson and Jos Buttler, more for the lack of adaptability of the RR’s batsmen who were coming from Sharjah. The ball had come on to the bat in nicely Sharjah, but here the ball was stopping a little bit.

Cummins at the other end, bowled his usual test length through powerplay, as he did against the SRH three nights ago. Although Jos Buttler tried to throw him off his length by using Cummin’s pace to dispatch a ramp for six, it was just 13 runs that RR batsman could get of his first three overs. In the sixth over of the match, Mavi tossed up a shorter one that Buttler would have got hold of 4 out of 5 times, but it went straight into the hands of third-man. This pushed KKR into the driving seat as they had reduced RR to 39-3 in 6.1 overs.

Kamlesh Nagarkoti replaced Cummins in the eighth over and gave two major jolts to RR in form of Robin Uthappa and Riyan Parag, which broke the backbone of the batting order. Soon RR was reduced to 88-8, and the battle was almost won. The late assaults of Tom Curran to Sunil Narine decreased the margin of defeat for the RR.

Read more: 5 reasons why IPL 2020 would be special

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Young Indians learning from the experienced International bowlers

The performance of Nagarkoti and Mavi is definitely influenced by the presence of the World’s best Test bowler, Pat Cummins. Dinesh Karthik said “The boys are learning a lot from him (Pat Cummins). The fact that he is interacting with all the young bowlers is making a massive difference and in my eyes, he is just getting up the ladder in the way he is behaving with the young boys.”

The bowlers of KKR must have taken a clue from Jofra Archer’s brilliant bowling. He bowled just the way he does by cranking up the pace. He bowled close to 150 and even clocked 152. He was brought in the second spell to counter Andre Russell. Archer rattled Russell, Morgan and Karthik with his short balls. At one stage, he just gave 4 runs in 3 overs and took 2 wickets. It was only in his last over that Morgan hit him for a six, which could have been a catch at boundary. Andre Russell got out just when he had started launching, to a wide length ball of Ankit Rajpoot.

Both the Kolkata and Rajasthan were playing their first game in Dubai, it was always going to come down to which team adapts to the conditions well. KKR adopted well as they stuck to their plans and executed them right. Banking on their vast bowling resources, they got over the line.

Not just them, KKR has also invested in other youngsters like Varun Chakravarthy, Rinku Singh and Nikhil Naik. Varun has started paying off in the last two matches. Rinku Singh has not gotten enough chance to validate the franchise’s trust in him yet. He has been given few chances in both the 2018 and 2019 season, but they were not enough for him to establish his place in the final eleven. Nikhil Naik too has not been able to garb the chances he has been given in two seasons.

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