Before the Mega IPL auction of 2022, Kolkata Knight Riders released Dinesh Karthik and although they retained four players none of them were captaincy options. They spent 12.25 Crore to obtain Shreyas Iyer in their team, the third highest price for a player in the 2022 auction and announced him as their captain. Iyer was the captain of the Delhi franchise since 2018 but injuries during the 2021 season resulted in Rishabh Pant being the Delhi Capitals captain which the franchise management wanted to continue.
There are big differences in the team structure and the team philosophy between Delhi Capitals and Kolkata Knight Riders. For Delhi Capitals, Prithvi Shaw, Shikhar Dhawan, Rishabh Pant and Marcus Stoinis were the players who were supposed to provide the big hits and score quickly, whereas Shreyas Iyer played the role of middle over accumulator, looking to rotate the strike. Still, he was always in the top three run scorer bracket for the franchise between 2018 to 2020, scoring more than 400 runs in each season with a strike rate around 120.
Since the last season, KKR are playing a different brand of cricket under Brendon McCullum’s coaching. Their fearless approach has provided results more often than not. In this approach generally, all the batters are expected to bat aggressively and utilize their resources as much as they can. Obviously if the pitch is difficult like the one against Mumbai last night, there are one-two players who can be anchor occasionally, a role which was played perfectly by Venkatesh Iyer, but more often than not all their batters are looking for quick scoring including Ajinkya Rahane, who generally plays an anchor’s role.
As a captain Shreyas Iyer is living this mantra and leading from the front. In this year’s edition Iyer has scored 69 runs which came off just 50 deliveries at a strike rate nearing 140. His highest score is just 26 against Punjab Kings but in all the matches he has gone to an aggressive mode from the very beginning. It failed against RCB, when they batted first as the team collapsed and lost a tight game. However, while chasing this approach helped them to be at par with the required run rate and did not let the opposition put pressure on them. Iyer should now look to stay at the crease for long and utilize the death overs to his benefit.
As a fielding captain, Iyer has brought his enthusiasm among his team members as they looked sharp on the outfield. He also has one of the easiest jobs as KKR captain as they can boast of one of the best bowling attacks of the tournament. The turnaround from Umesh Yadav, who played just two matches in the last two season was exceptional. Along with him they have an experienced overseas pace bowling options in Pat Cummins and Tim Southee, two outstanding spinners in Sunil Narine and Varun Chakravarthy who can completely control the middle overs and a host of young Indian pacers to choose from. Their only Achilles’ heel seems to be the death bowling as they do not have a death bowling expert like Jasprit Bumrah, T Natarajan or Mustafizur Rahman. Captain Iyer has marshalled his resource expertly on the field and will hope to find a solution to the death over problem before they reach the business end of the tournament.