After losing the match against Rajasthan Royals (RR) by six wickets, Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) are at the bottom of the IPL 2021 points-table. The team looks balanced on paper but hasn’t been able to put their potential to practice. With only a solitary win from five matches, the Knight Riders will be looking to make some changes in their playing XI.
In a recent interview with Cricbuzz, Virendra Sehwag has opined that Eoin Morgan should give the responsibility of playing the anchor role to their star batsman Shubman Gill. The statement was made after seeing Gill’s poor stats in the ongoing IPL. In five matches, the Punjab cricketer has just managed 80 runs at an all-time low average of 16.00.
Sehwag argues that Gill has low scores so far because the latter is not a natural hitter of the ball and finds it difficult to smash boundaries at will. He further explained that the youngster is seen under the pump as he is playing with hard hands which is not his inherent style. The opening batsman relies on finding gaps rather than power hitting, and adds pressure on him when he cannot score swiftly.
“See, I feel he’s a long-format player like the ODIs and Tests. In T20s, one has to hit boundaries at will. Either this, or you play a role where you don’t have to hit boundaries but just play safely at one end. At the moment, he’s playing with very hard hands where neither he’s been able to time the ball nor collect runs. He’s the kind of player who depends on timing to find gaps and if that doesn’t go his way, he tends to build pressure on himself,” Sehwag told Cricbuzz.
Sehwag further suggested that KKR should push Nitish Rana at number four and open with either Sunil Narine or Rahul Tripathi, who might be more effective in the powerplay.
“That’s why I suggest that KKR put him at one end and push Nitish Rana at four and open with Sunil Narine or Rahul Tripathi, who can cash in on the powerplay for Shubman Gill. Because if Shubman Gill can play out the first six overs, he can easily hit boundaries against the likes of (Rahul) Tewatia and Shivam Dube,” Sehwag added.
The former Indian cricketer further asserted that Morgan and Co. should look at IPL 2021 from a loser’s vantage point. They can promote Andre Russell and Narine up the order or rest Gill for the remaining tournament to find a winning combination.
“His role should be something like last year, where he hogs at one end, and Sunil Narine, Rahul Tripathi and Andre Russell hit boundaries at will from the other end. If not, then there’s only one solution: he has played 5-6 matches, KKR should sit him out and try to find a replacement. KKR should now think as they have already lost the tournament and focus on making some new changes. This could be promoting Sunil Narine or Andre Russell in the batting order, which are strategies that have worked for them in the past and might work again,” concluded Viru.
KKR also have Karun Nair and Venkatesh Iyer in the wings. They are scheduled to play their next match against Punjab Kings (PBKS) at the Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad on April 26 (Monday).