IPL 2023: Overseas pros, Sunil Narine and Andre Russell, letting Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) down? From 6 games played so far, Narine has 6 wickets while Russell has scored only 98 runs.
The two-time IPL champions, Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR), are standing at the bottom half of the IPL table standings and are wondering where to draw inspiration from to move up the points table. In the absence of their captain, Shreyas Iyer, Nitish Rana has stepped up to carry the KKR baton. However, the team looks like a second-hand car running a marathon.
Russell and Narine look pale in purple
Kolkata management and the batting lineup have always been overly dependent on their two foreign nationals, Andre Russell and Sunil Narine. Russell who is known for his firepower, has been short on fuel to light the fire this season. In the six innings that Russell has batted, he has scored 98 runs at a very poor average of 24.50 and strike rate of 140. Russell’s career IPL strike rate is 177.09, and he averages 29.51 in the IPL. To cut it short, Russell has not been just scoring consistently, but he isn’t striking at the standards he has maintained either. On the other hand, Russell, the bowler who averages 24.11 in his IPL career and takes wickets almost after every 15 deliveries, has somewhat come to the party by picking three wickets in three innings.
The senior-most player in the KKR setup, Sunil Narine, hasn’t had the best of IPL 2023 so far either. Narine, who has an IPL bowling average of 25.18 and a tremendous economy rate of 6.68, has been taken to the cleaners by the batters so far in the 2023 season. His economy rate has jumped to 8.43 and his average has dropped to 32.43. Narine has only managed to pick six wickets so far in six innings. In the batting department, Sunil has been nothing but disappointing. Narine, with a career IPL strike rate of 162.32, has scored just 9 runs with a mediocre strike rate of 128.57. This has led to a lack of spark in the batting and bowling departments for KKR.
Indian talent saved the dawn for the Knights
Though the IPL is known for promoting Indian talent and believing in the talent of the Indian domestic players, KKR have in the recent past become a completely overseas dependent team. In the batting and bowling departments, they have been relying too much on Andre Russell and Sunil Narine. And this was always going to backfire someday or another. The over dependency recoiled in this very season itself, where Andre’s bat hasn’t been flowing as freely as he would have wanted and Narine’s mystery isn't deceiving batters. Instead, this year it has been all Indian flavour for KKR. In the two matches that KKR has won so far, Indian players have been the stars of the matches.
On one occasion, Shardul Thakur, out of the blue, bulldozed RCB bowlers with a breath-taking 29-ball 68 runs with the bat. The second match that KKR won was nothing but magic. A magical knock from Rinku Singh scored 30 runs in the final over, hitting five sixes in the last over of the game to win the game out of thin air! In the batting order, Venkatesh Iyer’s brilliance and Nitish Rana’s match sense have been saving KKR big time, and in the bowling department, the long-lost Varun Chakravarthy has been the best KKR bowler, picking seven wickets in five innings.
How long will KKR back their senior foreign players?
Sunil Narine, who has been part of the franchise since 2012, has already played over 150 games for KKR. Russell, on the other hand, was bought way back in 2014 and has been a regular for KKR ever since. The Caribbean all-rounders aren’t raising eyebrows because of just the 2023 season; in the 2022 IPL season, Sunil Narine just picked nine wickets and averaged 34.67 with the ball, his second worst season ever in the 11-year journey. While Russell had his third-best year with KKR in 2022, scoring 15.07 per cent of the team's total runs at a strike rate of 174.88, and was expected to go big in this season as well, he hasn’t quite gone the distance.
It was expected that the senior pros would be the foundation of the team and the youngsters would play around them, but in this season, the youngsters have left the team out of difficult situations like Venkatesh Iyer at the top or Rinku Singh as the finisher, the roles that Narine at the top or Russell as the finisher should have played ideally. Even in the bowling department, Varun has provided critical breakthroughs when needed the most, which was Narine’s forte in the past.
If KKR want to see themselves in the qualifiers, the senior players have to step up and support the youngsters right from the word go!