Eoin Morgan’s Kolkata Knight Riders turned the tables in the IPL 2021 phase 2 by making it to the final. KKR had won just 2 games out of 7 in the first half and they had a herculean task to make the playoffs. The team managed to overtake defending champions Mumbai Indians in the net run rate to secure their playoffs spot after winning 5 matches out of 7 in the IPL’s UAE leg. It was no less than a fairytale for KKR to be able to reach playoffs after being ranked 7th in the points table in IPL 2021 phase 2. But the story does not end here as they thrashed Royal Challengers Bangalore and table toppers Delhi Capitals in their playoff matches to set up a summit clash with CSK in 7 years.
What went right for KKR?
KKR were hit by an injury of Andre Russell in the early stages of their UAE leg. The star all-rounder is still recovering from the grade 2 tear he faced against Chennai Super Kings in the league stage game but except for this setback, everything else clicked for the two-time champions. First Brendon McCullum went with Tim Southee to replace Russell but in the last two matches looking at the surface of Sharjah Shakib Al Hasan was picked in the team and he delivered to some extend.
Ventakesh Iyer’s sublime form
KKR head coach backed young Ventakesh Iyer to open the batting for KKR in the 2nd half of the IPL and it worked amazingly for them. Iyer went on to score 320 runs in 9 games with 3 fifties to his name. His opening partner Shubman Gill, who was struggling with form in the first half also joined the party in the latter half of IPL’s UAE leg.
Rahul Tripathi in the middle order
Rahul Tripathi was also promoted up the order to bat at number three throughout 2nd phase and he made the opportunity count by scoring 395 runs in 16 games with 2 fifty-plus scores in it. Sunil Narine made some handy contributions with the bat in the middle order but no one else in including captain Eoin Morgan could find form in the middle order.
Deadly spin duo of Sunil Narine and Varun Chakravarthy
Other than the brilliant batting display by KKR openers another major factor that went in their favour was the deadly bowling of their spin duo Sunil Narine and Varun Chakravarthy in IPL 2021 phase 2. The pair picked 32 wickets in IPL. Morgan used both his trump card in the powerplays and middle overs to put pressure on the batting team from word go. Pacer Lockie Ferguson along with Shivam Mavi took care of the death overs for KKR.
KKR’s Journey In Phase 1
Matches played – 7
Won – 2
Lost – 5
- KKR vs SRH – KKR won by 10 runs
- MI vs KKR – MI won by 10 runs
- RCB vs KKR – RCB won by 38 runs
- CSK vs KKR – CSK won by 18 runs
- KKR vs RR – RR won by 6 wickets
- PBKS vs KKR – KKR won by 5 wikcets
- KKR vs DC – DC won by 7 wickets
KKR thrashed RCB in their first game of phase 2 by a big margin of 9 wickets and 10 overs to boost their confidence and net run rate. KKR went on to beat Mumbai Indians in their next game while faced a defeat against CSK in a thrilling contest. Russell suffered the injury during the CSK game and that changed the dynamics of KKR playing XI. Tim Southee ended up playing three games in total, first coming in as a replacement for Russell but staying on for the injured Lockie Ferguson. KKR were playing without two first-choice foreign players but still, they managed a win against Sunrisers Hyderabad to keep themselves alive in the playoff race.
KKR’s Journey in phase 2
Matches Played – 7
Won – 5
Lost – 3
- RCB vs KKR – KKR won by 9 wickets
- MI vs KKR – KKR won by 7 wickets
- KKR vs CSK – CSK won by 2 wickets
- DC vs KKR – KKR won by 3 wickets
- KKR vs PBKS – PBKS won by 5 wickets
- SRH vs KKR – KKR won by 6 wickets
- KKR vs RR – KKR won by 86 runs
Eliminator – KKR beat RCB by 4 wickets
2nd Qualifier – KKR beat DC by 3 wickets
Russell’s hamstring injury ahead of the clash against Delhi Capitals threatened to derail the campaign but the overseas players who came in as replacements stood up when it mattered. Tim Southee ended up playing three games in total, first coming in as a replacement for Russell but staying on for the injured Lockie Ferguson. Now without their two first-choice overseas players for three straight games, KKR still managed to beat the odds and win two out of those games. Against SunRisers Hyderabad, Southee stood up with 2 for 26 and helped KKR secure two crucial points as the middle of the table heated up.
After facing a defeat against Punjab Kings, Shakib was brought into the side. With three spinners in the side and games at Sharjah KKR made most of it. KKR then played RCB at Sharjah where their spinners dominated Virat Kohli’ side. By making it to the playoff by the means of a positive run rate to just 1 game away from playing the final, KKR had come a long way. Eoin Morgan’s side faced DC in the 2nd qualifier, with exceptional bowling performance followed by dominating batting by openers KKR reached the finals of IPL 2021.