Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) skipper Eoin Morgan has said that New Zealand pace bowler Tim Southee — a like-for-like replacement for Aussie bowler Pat Cummins in the second leg here in the UAE — was the key to the two-time IPL champions’ resurgence, adding that he had gelled “seamlessly” into the side.
On Sunday, Southee grabbed 2 wickets for 26 runs as KKR defeated Sunrisers Hyderabad by six wickets with two balls remaining in a match which hugely boosted their chance of qualifying for the play-offs. KKR are currently fourth behind Chennai Super Kings, Delhi Capitals (both on 18 points) and Royal Challengers Bangalore (16 points).
With 12 points and a game to play, KKR are ahead of Punjab Kings, Rajasthan Royals and Mumbai Indians (all on 10 points) on the points table.
Injuries to key bowlers such as Lockie Ferguson and Andre Russell, and the absence of Cummins, left the KKR pace bowling cupboard bare and Southee, with his experience, has brought KKR back from the brink.
“Tim’s (Southee) obviously had a huge impact on the side. When you miss two or three big gun players — we miss Pat (Cummins), we miss Lockie (Ferguson), and obviously Dre (Andre Russell) has been missing as well. His contribution with the ball in this phase has been brilliant,” said Morgan during the post-match press conference.
“It’s one thing contributing throughout a campaign, but I think when you look at actually when you need players to stand up, senior players to be able to do that… Tim has done that brilliantly,” added the KKR skipper.
“He’s come in seamlessly, showing a lot of experience. He’s done it for a very long time for the Blackcaps. He’s obviously one of their top-class bowlers in all formats of the game so it is great to see that in a KKR shirt.”
KKR’s last league match, against Rajasthan Royals, could see them secure a berth in the playoffs.
About Sunday’s chase, Morgan said it was tricky, despite it being a low-scoring game. Despite being set a target of only 116 runs, the match went into the last over with the winning run coming with two balls remaining. Morgan attributed it to the sluggish wicket and added that young Shubman Gill (57 off 51 balls) adjusted to the conditions well.
“Yes, the chase was tricky. I thought it was sluggish if anything. The wicket is one thing but you need to adapt to conditions — bowl well, field well. We did that well, a vast improvement from two days ago. It swings early in the powerplay in these conditions, but it was sluggish. We needed to bowl and field well and we did. Shubman played extremely well and led the chase. The depth of the squad to be able to call Shakib (Al Hasan) is a huge luxury, so he has had a huge impact,” Morgan said.