Published from Mumbai, Delhi & Bhopal

McCullum frustrated by KKR’s ‘timid’ approach with the bat

UAE : As Kolkata Knight Riders slipped to 14 for 4 against Royal Challengers Bangalore in Abu Dhabi, head coach Brendon McCullum buried himself deep in his journal; writing notes and wondering if his pre-match chat had had any impact on the mindset of the batsmen. As Mohammed Siraj wretched havoc, all KKR could manage was 84 before slipping to an eight-wicket loss. With four matches remaining, there are problems aplenty for McCullum. The batting hasn’t fired, injury concerns persist for both Andre Russell and Sunil Narine, and the bowling has lacked teeth as well. But before the game, McCullum had made it a point to ask the batsmen to show some intent; especially at the top of the order. However, by the end of it all, he was left scratching his head in what the coach described as a “timid performance”.

Shubman Gill has scored at a strike rate of 111.82 so far in the season while Rahul Tripathi has looked at sea after his match-winning performance against Chennai Super Kings. Nitish Rana averages just 18 in the season and has struggled to counter the conditions. With early wickets, KKR haven’t been able to use the muscle of their middle-order properly. Against RCB, the side just succumbed to the persistent assault without a fight.”Before the game we spoke about showing some intent especially at the top of the order and, unfortunately, we lacked that tonight,” McCullum said. “So that’s something we have to address. We were very poor with bat in hand. You are not going to win too many games from 40 for 6. “We are still fourth in the tournament, which is very fortunate for us. The destiny is still in our hands. We have to tidy up some of the areas. It’s just that we were very timid in our approach. That’s a bit frustrating because we spoke at length before the game about trying to be positive and show some strong intent. If you are defending 84, you win one out of 150 games. Tonight wasn’t good enough from the batting point of view.”

McCullum acknowledged he had expected RCB’s pacers to hit the KKR batsmen hard. He, however, didn’t expect them to have any answers. “RCB bowled really well. Siraj bowled excellent lines and lengths. He was able to present the seam and ask a few questions to our batsmen. Questions which, in the past, we would have answered better than what we did tonight,” he pointed out.”We have to bounce back because we have a game in a few days time. That will be the nature of the tournament as well with the conditions being challenging. We have to find a way to pick ourselves and find results when it’s challenging.

“We had planned that they will hit us with their seamers. Here in Abu Dhabi, it’s been quite useful for the seamers. If you flip it, [Aaron] Finch was trying to walk at the bowlers and trying to ask some questions. Sometimes that’s what you have to do. You have to be creative to get yourself into the game. We have to find a way to enter the game and you can’t be in a situation that we were and expect to win. I don’t think we were able to enter the game at any stage. None of our top-order batsmen were able to get going.” With four games to go, the onus will be on the batsmen to resurrect their campaign. And a lot of things need fixing in the three days before they take on table-toppers Delhi Capitals at the same venue where they have been mauled thrice now.

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