Former South Africa skipper Graeme Smith feels that Kolkata Knight Riders will need the spin combination of Sunil Narine and Varun Chakravarthy to get going against Rajasthan Royals at Brabourne Stadium on Monday.
A large chunk of Kolkata’s success has been provided by the off-spin and mystery spin combination of Narine and Chakravarty stifling the opposition’s batters and stemming the run flow.
But in IPL 2022, the duo is yet to set the stage on fire. While Narine has picked four wickets with an average of 30 and economy rate of just five, Chakravarthy hasn’t been at his controlling best, picking four scalps at a high average of 47.75 and economy rate of 8.30.
With the second half of IPL 2022 approaching, Kolkata hoping that Narine and Chakravarthy coming into their top form will be key for the two-time champions.
“Now we are moving into the second half the wickets are going to be a bit worn. So, the spin combination are going to be key in the second half. So, they need Chakravarthy bowling well. They need that combination of Narine and Chakravarthy to get going,” Smith was quoted as saying by cricket.com.
“Spin is going to start playing a bigger and bigger role now as the tournament goes on. As the wickets get worn, more and more games, we are going to see spin come to the fore. That combination is going to be key to their success,” added Smith, who won IPL 2008 with Rajasthan Royals.
Smith pointed out that both Kolkata and Rajasthan have fared badly in death overs in the tournament, making the final five overs phase with the ball a concern for sides led by Shreyas Iyer and Sanju Samson respectively. Kolkata has the third-worst economy rate for teams at death overs in IPL 2022 with 12.97 while Rajasthan are fourth-worst with an economy rate of 12.78.
“Closing the game down is important. Having a clear mind, not getting caught up in the pressure, having a clear plan with your captain so that you’re bowling to your fields, you know what you’re going to do.”
In the light of death bowling concerns, Smith thinks that role of Narine and Chakravarthy becomes even more crucial in middle overs for Kolkata. “That’s why we talk about the spin options. Can a Narine, can a Chakravarthy pick up one or two wickets in the middle and take the pressure off the death overs? They have got enough experience with Russell, Cummins, Narine, and Umesh Yadav. Coming into these final over, there should be more control on the KKR side.”
Smith signed off by saying that he is more worried for Rajasthan in death overs bowling owing to the lack of experienced bowlers operating in that phase. “What worries is me that the Royals really don’t have that experience on their side. That could be the change in this game between the two teams.”