IPL 2013: Knight Riders' performance a big let down

Last Updated: Fri, May 10, 2013 09:05 hrs

As we hurtle towards the climax of the group stage, as the fight intensifies between teams to make up the four qualifiers, three outfits can play only for pride and perhaps play the role of party poopers. 

Pune Warriors, Delhi Daredevils and Kolkata Knight Riders have proved to be the major disappointments of IPL-6 and to be candid, hardly anyone would have envisaged them occupying the last three positions at the start of the tournament. 

The bookies certainly didn't think so for behind the three favourites Chennai Super Kings, Royal Challengers Bangalore and Mumbai Indians they had these three teams next on the list and rated as very low the chances of Kings XI Punjab, Rajasthan Royals and Sunrisers Hyderabad to win the trophy. 

These three were available at the most lucrative odds. Right now, however, Rajasthan Royals and Sunrisers Hyderabad are challenging strongly for a place among the qualifiers while the Punjab outfit too has an outside chance of making it.
But let's discuss the disappointments for whom little went right during the season. Who for example would have expected Delhi Daredevils to be exchanging the cellar position in the points table with Pune Warriors? Here was a name bursting with big names, prodigious young talent and having all the necessary firepower to win T-20 matches. 

In Virender Sehwag and David Warner they had arguably the most explosive opening pair among the IPL teams. To follow in the batting were the most gifted young batsman in Indian cricket today - Unmukt Chand - and the vastly experienced skipper Mahela Jayawardene. They had two all-rounders in Andre Russell and Irfan Pathan. 

The bowling if anything was even stronger with the likes of Morne Morkel, Umesh Yadav, Ajantha Mendis, Johan Botha and Ashish Nehra around.
So, just how could this combination fail so miserably? How could they win just three matches out of 12? How could they lose as many as nine games most of them by margins that brooked no argument. They did miss Sehwag for the first few matches but going by his record, it appears that they didn't miss him very much. 

The swashbuckling batsman has scored just 236 runs in nine innings with only one score over the half century mark. Generally, he has been a pale shadow of the Sehwag bowlers all round the world have feared for years. Warner has ploughed a lonely furrow getting four half-centuries on his way to a tally of 360 runs. 

Jayawardene has performed below expectations while Unmukt Chand has been a major failure. The bowling has been no better with only Umesh Yadav bowling with a lot of vigour.
It's much the same case with the Pune Warriors with neither the batting nor the bowling coming off. Aaron Finch and Robin Uthappa have gallantly striven to give them a good start  But they have been badly let down by the middle-order which includes big names like Yuvraj Singh, Mitchell Marsh, Ross Taylor, Luke Wright and Angelo Matthews though it must be said that Steve Smith has done reasonably well in limited opportunities.  

The bowling too has presented problems. Ashok Dinda has been among the wickets but has been frightfully expensive. Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Rahul Sharma have performed admirably but the team has been most hit it appears by the rule restricting the foreign players in the playing eleven to four. 

The result is that Wayne Parnell and Ajantha Mendis have played just two matches each. But of course that is the rule governing all sides and they have to get the proper balance and this is what Pune Warriors have been unable to do. A record of just two wins and 11 defeats and a cellar occupying position for some time now is something no one would have bargained for this combo at the start of the competition.
And what can one say about the fall of Kolkata Knight Riders? Their chances of retaining the title they won for the first time last year were rated quite highly about a month back and why not?  One look at the team composition and the general feeling was that this was the side who would without a shadow of a doubt finish as one of the qualifiers at worst. 

And yet at the moment of writing they are languishing in seventh position with four wins and eight defeats.  How could an outfit with the tag of defending champions, a number of T-20 specialists and big names stumble so badly? Simply put, the players did not perform up to their reputation. 

None among Gautam Gambhir, Jacques Kallis, Eoin Morgan and Sunil Narine have actually failed but certainly more was expected from them. However, there have been failures too notably Lakshmipathy Balaji, Manoj Tiwari and Yusuf Pathan. 

They too have been apparently hit by the four foreign player rule with the result that Brett Lee has played only three matches and Brendon McCullum and Ryan ten Doeschate just one each. Sachithra Senanayake, the off spinner from Sri Lanka who has made a good impression has been restricted to six games.
It is sad in a way to see these three teams out of the reckoning but in the meantime let us enjoy the race to the qualifying slots as the competition becomes even more intense. Five teams, all bunched together, are in the running for three available slots with Chennai Super Kings having made sure of their place in the next stage and there should be enough pulsating fare over the next few days. 

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