When broadcaster Simon Doull had asked Shreyas Iyer after the match about assessing the bowling performance of his team, he uttered the word 'clueless' about his team's inability to stop Prithvi Shaw from putting an opening partnership of 93 runs with David Warner in 8.3 overs.
"I had said clueless as they got a really good start after the first over. We hadn't anticipated that the wicket would play so well. The surface was very hard but if you see, Prithvi Shaw is a batter who can change the power-play. When he plays good shots on good balls, then I don't know as a captain on what kind of a field could be set. That's why I said it that way," explained Iyer in a post-match virtual press conference.
Shaw had teared into Kolkata's bowling attack by punching Umesh Yadav through extra cover for four from the first ball of the innings. The right-hander took a liking for Yadav, hitting him for three more boundaries despite being hit on helmet. Shaw then hammered a pull over deep mid-wicket off Pat Cummins to bring up Delhi's fifty in just four overs.
Iyer introduced spinners Varun Chakravarthy and Sunil Narine in power-play. But they weren't able to stop Warner and Shaw as boundaries continued to flow.
"It was definitely based on the start they got. Prithvi is someone who doesn't go really big at the spinners as I have played with him before. Since he got a really good start, I wanted to restrict the momentum that he had created at the start. I felt that Varun and Sunil both are really experienced bowlers. So, I really thought we could restrict him at that point of time and give us a really good hold."
Out of options, Iyer brought in Andre Russell and Venkatesh Iyer. But Shaw slammed Venkatesh for a four and six on both sides of the wicket to reach his fifty in 27 balls. Though Chakravarthy ended Shaw's stay at 51 when he castled him through the gate with a googly, Delhi's task to set the base for the 44-run win was already done.
Kolkata did pull back things by taking four wickets as Delhi were 176/5 in 18 overs, Shardul Thakur and Axar Patel dished out a finishing onslaught to take 39 runs off the last two overs to carry Delhi to 215/5. With Umesh leaking 23 runs and Cummins going for 16 in the 19th and 20th overs respectively, it reiterated that Kolkata's death bowling has been their Achilles Heel in IPL 2022.
"It's not a concern (death bowling); it's definitely something we need to work as a team. Even when we practise, we need to see to it that we execute the yorkers rightly and bowl according to the plans that we have before the match," stated Iyer.
"We've got an amazing bunch of bowling team; we've got amazing coaches as well. So it's just that we back our strengths and see to it that we don't think negatively at that point of time. Yes, we have been really okay in the previous games as well, at the death. But it's something we can work on and come back really strong."
In a massive chase of 216, Kolkata needed Delhi-like starts and contributions from all batters. But that didn't happen as Ajinkya Rahane and Venkatesh Iyer fell in power-play. Iyer himself made 54 off 33 balls and had support from Nitish Rana's 20-ball 30. But once the duo got out in successive overs, it was all over for Kolkata.
On his part, Iyer refused to indulge in blame-game but admitted that batters not converting starts into huge scores is an area of progress. "I am absolutely not worried about the starts we are getting. But when you are chasing 215, you need to get off to a really good start. You can't think twice about what the bowlers are going to bowl. Because you have to have that attacking mindset right from ball one, and one mistake can get you out as a batsman. So I wouldn't blame anyone in this particular chase."
"But yes, we have this history in the last few games that we didn't get a really good start. That is also something we need to work on. This is just the early stage of the tournament, so once when we start practising more and executing stuff really well on the field, I think things will be really taken care of pretty well."20220410-225001