Brendon McCullum, the Kolkata Knight Riders coach, has said the team "just wasn"t good enough" with the bat and had shown a "timid" approach in their eight-wicket loss to the Royal Challengers Bangalore.
The Knight Riders were undone by Mohammed Siraj"s 3 for 8 in four overs and made only 84 for 8 after choosing to bat, with the Royal Challengers cruising to victory in 13.3 overs. The result kept the Knight Riders in fourth place on the IPL 2020 points table, but with a significant hit on their net run rate, which now stands at a negative -0.828.
"In all honesty, I didn"t think there was a lot in the wicket. Siraj obviously bowled well and [Chris] Morris at times also. But if anything, we were just a little timid in our approach," McCullum said at the press conference. "That"s a bit frustrating because we spoke at length before the game about trying to be positive and show some strong intent. So that"s something we"ll have to address in the next few days.
"Before the game we talked about wanting to show some strong intent with the batting at the top of the order. Unfortunately tonight, if anything we probably lacked intent. So that"s something we"re going to have to address. I think RCB were very good tonight and we were very poor with bat in hand. You"re not going to win too many games from 40 for 6. It was a poor night with the bat but we"ve got to bounce back because we"ve got another game in a few days. That could be the nature of this tournament as well, with the conditions being slightly challenging at times. You"ve got to find a way to still pick yourself up and try and get a result next game, even after a poor one."
McCullum felt the Knight Riders batsmen had ceded control of the game to Siraj by not being proactive enough. Siraj varied his lines, kept the ball on a length or just short of it often, and found movement too. No batsman was able to get into any rhythm against him.
"I think Mohammed Siraj bowled excellent lines and lengths. He was out to present the seam and asked a few questions of us, questions which in the past we would have probably answered better than we did tonight," McCullum said.
"This is going to affect a little bit in terms of our confidence and [we need to] work hard on ensuring our morale doesn"t drop. But I still firmly believe we have a side which can be there come finals time."KKR coach Brendon McCullum
"There"s many things you can do [to counter good bowling]. You can use your crease: go laterally, advance, or go deeper in your crease. You can try and apply a little bit of pressure somehow, but we weren"t able to do any of those tonight. That"s something we"ll discuss, how as batsmen you"re able to enter the game, show strong presence and try to turn the pressure a little bit back on the opposition, particularly in slightly helpful conditions for the seamers."
McCullum contrasted his own batsmen"s performance with the approach shown by Aaron Finch for the Royal Challengers. While Finch made only 16 off 21, he was walking down the pitch constantly, not only forcing bowlers to bowl alternate lengths but also minimising the risk of an lbw.
"None of our top order batsmen were able to get anything going," McCullum said. "If we flip that over and look at how even Aaron Finch - I know he didn"t set the world on fire tonight but he still showed intent. He was walking down the wicket, he was asking some different questions of us as bowlers and trying to take out a mode of dismissal. Sometimes that"s what you have to do, you"ve got to be a little bit creative to be able to get yourself into the game. It wasn"t to be tonight, but there"ll be some good lessons for some of our guys. We"re going to have to find a way to be able to actually enter the game because you can"t be in a situation like you were at 40 for 6 and expect to win games of cricket."
The Knight Riders still have four games in hand, and with 10 points on the board they are still in the thick of the qualifying race.
"We"re still fourth in the tournament, which is very fortunate for us. Destiny is still very much in our own hands," McCullum said. "We"ve just got to tidy up those areas where we were deficient tonight and make sure we improve on our performance.
"I"ve said all the way along, as long as our morale stays high and our belief within the dressing room stays high, then we have the talent within our set-up, and the intelligence and the quality of players, to be able to go deep in the tournament. This is going to affect a little bit in terms of our confidence and [we need to] work hard on ensuring our morale doesn"t drop. At the same time, having those honest conversations around how we improve. But I still firmly believe we have a side which can be there come finals time. We just need to improve slightly."