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Simon Katich highly impressed with KKR top order

KKR
(Photo Source: BCCI)

Kolkata Knight Riders’ (KKR) top order can be easily said to be the most settled in the IPL till now. The top three comprising of Robin Uthappa, Gautam Gambhir, and Manish Pandey are in sublime touch. Heaping praise for the team’s opener’s Gautam Gambhir and Robin Uthappa, Kolkata Knight Riders’ assistant coach, Simon Katich on Monday, said that the form of the senior players at the top of the line-up has helped eased the pressure on the middle-order.

The mercurial leader of the side, Gautam Gambhir currently holds the Orange Cap with 192 runs in the tournament thus far, including two fifties in three outings. Robin Uthappa tally of 81 runs doesn’t look extraordinary but his contributions of 35 and 38 against Delhi Daredevils and Sunrisers Hyderabad respectively, has been instrumental in setting up KKR’s successful chase.

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“Gautam is 34 years of age and still has a good deal of cricket in front of him. He’s hungry and keen and he’s showing that out in the middle. I think he has a point to the Indian selectors which is good. Robin as well, he’s 30, and as a batsman he has got his best days in front of him,” Katich said with a smile, ahead of KKR’s fourth IPL 2016 fixture, against Kings XI Punjabi in Mohali.

“To have those two, who have batted together a fair bit, helps. They’re comfortable knowing that that is their role for their team and they’re comfortable playing that role day in and day out. That probably takes a bit of pressure off knowing that they’re settled there,” Katich added.

“There’s no doubt that the openers have a big advantage in this form of the game. They get to bat when the field is up, they get to settle in the first few overs and if they settle in and get some boundaries away then all of a sudden they can do some damage in the middle overs where it is harder to find the boundaries. Fortunately, for us our top order is in good form.”

The Knight Riders assistant coach also spoke about Manish Pandey’s whose contribution, just like Uthappa, doesn’t seem big, but has played important innings. The KKR No. 3 has 78 runs in three matches, including a fifty, which unfortunately came in a losing cause versus Mumbai Indians.

“Manish Pandey’s innings against Mumbai was outstanding. Having watched him throughout the summer in Australia where he got his hundred in Sydney where he batted beautifully, there is no doubt that we’re blessed to have this top order. Could do damage in the first six but also then, outside of the six overs when the powerplay ends still put pressure on the spinners in that period,” Katich said.

While the top three have been in fine form, those in the middle-order haven’t spent as much time in the middle, and the Australian coach feels it is a bit of concern heading into a match at a batting-friendly track like Mohali’s.

“That’s always an issue when you play this form of the game and the top order bats so well. But it’s not a bad situation to be in,” Katich pointed.

“From batting point of view, ideally we would have liked more of the guys to have a hit but the top-order has done such a good job that they’re not getting a chance. The guys are preparing well in the nets and they’re doing everything possible to make sure theyre ready to go. So, until they get an opportunity in the middle we just have to wait till that happens,” Katich noted.

Katich, who went to examine the field and pitch at the PCA Stadium in Mohali even as the teams cancelled their practice sessions in the evening, stated that, as seen in the previous games, the pitch is likely to favor the batsmen.

“Generally, par (score) is around 170 on this wicket. It’s a very good wicket. They (Rising Pune Supergiants) obviously fell short of that and the Kings caught up. Very good by Kings to restrict Pune to 152. We just got a look at the wicket this afternoon and we think it is going to play well,” Katich pointed.

Kings XI Punjab has just won their first game of the season after they beat MS Dhoni-led Rising Pune SuperGiants. On, paper, the KKR start as favorites as they have a balanced side comparatively. But, Katich, however, is in no mood to take their opposition lightly and get complacent.

“They’re a dangerous team, like every team. You have four good overseas players. You’ve got a combination of very good Indian players and they’re opening partnership is as good as any that’s going around. (Murali) Vijay and (Manan) Vohra, and they both are in good form. They probably haven’t capitalised on their partnership in the previous games. That’s something they obviously addressed yesterday (against Rising Pune Supergiants).

“(Glenn) Maxwell is a dangerous player and so is (David) Miller and so is Shaun Marsh… It can all turnaround every quickly in this format. Like, we had a poor game in the field (against Mumbai Indians) and it cost us and we were, thankfully, able to turn it around it the next game (against Hyderabad). Our guys know that they need to come to the game with the right attitude and anything can happen. We expect it to be a tough battle tomorrow,” Katich reasoned.

While all-rounder John Hastings has been ruled out of the remainder of the tournament, Katich confirmed that Brad Hogg has recovered from a bout of food poisoning that kept him out of the game against Hyderabad.

“He’s started brilliantly for us. Arguably he has been our best bowler in the first couple of games. But he had a bit of food poisoning in Hyderabad and that slowed him down. We probably needed him to slow down a little, terrorizing teams, the old fella,” Katich said, before adding, “He’s obviously vital member of the team. We’ll wait and see what Jacques (Kallis) wants for in the team. But he’s fit, he’s ready to go.”

Also, Read – Ankle injury forces John Hasting to miss rest of IPL

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