‘No point crying about it’ – Sympathetic ten Doeschate urges bowlers to find a way

‘No point crying about it’ – Sympathetic ten Doeschate urges bowlers to find a way

History was made at the Eden Gardens on Friday (April 26) as Punjab Kings produced the highest successful T20 chase of all time, gunning down Kolkata Knight Riders’ total of 261 with eight balls to spare in a game that saw incredible levels of six-hitting from both sides.

With the season having witnessed a plethora of high scores already, including six totals of 250-plus, bowlers have been under the hammer more than ever before. On an evening when his bowlers had a rude awakening, KKR’s assistant coach Ryan ten Doeschate also felt that the best way to get out of the woods is to face the challenge head on..

“I don’t think it augurs well for the contest between bat and ball, but the facts are that it is here for the season,” said ten Doeschate at the post-match press conference.

“There are two ways you can look at it. You can step back and say ‘oh it’s unfair, we are bowling machines’ or you can sat ‘we are going to find a way, we are going to be a point of difference compared to other teams’, ‘we are gonna try new things’, ‘we are gonna embrace the challenge’. Yes it’s going to be tough, but you got to find innovative and new ways for the next four weeks at least, it (this season) is going to be there that long, so no point crying about it. Everything was already in the batter’s favour, I feel sorry for the bowlers as it’s gone more towards their side now. But those are the facts, the realities. My way to deal with this would be to find a way to land a punch back at the batters.”

The 2024 IPL season has already seen the 270-run barrier breached thrice, KKR themselves did it once, while SRH also got past the 285-run mark during their fixture against RCB. Under such circumstances, KKR’s total of 261 may have looked a fraction lesser but ten Doeschate quashed talks about needing more runs on a pitch that was extremely good to bat on. Knight Riders’ had a near perfect batting innings with Sunil Narine and Phil Salt setting the tone as the opening pair, followed by cameos from Venkatesh Iyer, Shreyas Iyer and Andre Russell. In hindsight, KKR could have gotten past 275 but that’d be nitpicking.

“What type of score is a good score? 260 has gotta be a good score. We didn’t stop scoring boundaries. Sunil and Salt were fantastic, it was nice to see the captain get a bit of rhythm again – probably the biggest positive for us tonight. We could play on this piece of marble here and if you give me 260 runs, it should be enough. There is a danger of aiming too high. We need to aim for at least 240 if the wicket is as good as this.”

Ten Doeschate admitted that the game of T20 cricket is evolving drastically by the day and this season of the IPL has witnessed changes at unprecedented levels, particularly in the batting department. For example, KKR’s batting PowerPlay yielded 76 runs – usually a sensational figure – but PBKS replied with an astounding figure of 93 in their first six overs with the bat. For the record, the 70-run mark has been breached in the PowerPlay far too many times more than it has been across the previous seasons combined. Like a lot of pundits around, the Dutch all-rounder also credited some of this revolution to IPL’s new rule.

“The impact player has had a big part in how the guys go about scoring. The game is almost unrecognisable from ten years ago when you used to get past 160, you could pack your bag and feel that you’d win the game. Now you need 160 before the 13th over to get to a good score. There are the obvious things, go to the death earlier. Shut down one side. I feel we could have done that better tonight.

“You almost want to bowl with anti-skills. Short and wide really works, drags guys wide and going straight, you need to catch guys off-guard like Sam Curran caught Phil Salt today. Set the off-side field, dragged him across and then fired one at leg stump. You have to come up with innovative ways. You have to keep changing, literally ball by ball. Don’t think you can bowl two balls the same, I don’t think you can bowl bowlers back to back anymore unless they really have a grip on the game. It’s all in the batter’s favour, the challenge for the bowlers to punch back is really there.”

The stunning aspect of Punjab’s onslaught was the fact that it was achieved with little to no support from the dew factor that is generally prevalent at the Eden Gardens. It is this which makes the venue a chasing ground, while it’s also known that defending scores has become a difficult task here due to the trueness of the surface and short square dimensions. However, KKR ended with a score that you’d expect teams to win games with, even with the modern-day fearlessness of batters. With the degree of high scores being posted by teams all around, ten Doeschate maintained that KKR hadn’t taken anything for granted despite posting a mammoth total on the board.

“Ordinarily, I’d think there is (an advantage with the toss) but if you told us today that we’d get 262 tonight, you almost couldn’t fathom a team chasing it down. Same for us batting first, you got an extra batter in the shed, so the mindset has to be to go hard for the whole 20 overs unless there is a change in the situation. There is a lot of upside with the ball, it’s about being brave and really going at the batters instead of sitting back and waiting to stop this stream of runs that’s been coming in.

“I don’t think there was complacency. The way batting is going across the competition, if anything there is an element of fear. There is a lot of upside with the ball. It is a new phenomenon with the way batters are batting, not taking a step back. Sunil was fantastic, other guys will be disappointed like we are with that performance. By and large they have been good, we need to find answers to stop batters taking the game away like they have across the competition.”

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