Kolkata Knight Riders’ dream comeback in the Indian Premier League 2021 came to a grinding halt last night, when they lost to Chennai Super Kings by 27 runs in the final in Dubai.
KKR were brilliant in the UAE leg of the tournament, having reached the summit clash after languishing in the seventh position at the end of the India leg.
After the loss, KKR head coach Brendon McCullum conceded that his team was outplayed by Chennai Super Kings side in the IPL final but also blamed an underwhelming middle-order batting performance for the comprehensive loss.
"It's a shame that we fell short, but we were outplayed by a very good CSK side today," McCullum said at the post-match press conference.
Kolkata suffered a middle-order collapse, when they went from 91/1 to 125/8 while chasing 193.
"I think, our bowling group did really good job, we fielded well and our top-order batting was superb, but unfortunately we weren't quite able to get the real impact through our middle-order players.
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"...there is a lot of experience there and they did not have the greatest of tournaments and that can happen at times," McCullum said.
If there was one player KKR missed in the knockouts, including the final, it was their trump card Andre Russell. He was, reportedly, fit for final but the Kolkata side decided to go in with the same XI which beat Delhi Capitals in the qualifier 2.
However, McCullum said the explosive batter could not make the XI despite working hard to be match-fit after a hamstring injury.
He also explained why Russell, who was recovering from a hamstring injury, could not make it to the summit clash.
"...Andre obviously had a hamstring tear early on in the competition. He worked unbelievably hard to try and get himself available. He was still at risk there. And it was a risk, I felt in a final, we just couldn't afford to take," the former wicketkeeper-batter said.
"And then we had another hamstring issue with Rahul Tripathi, so, look, such is the nature of hamstrings that he was never really sure whether they are going to be fully healed or not, and it's such a big risk.
"...in the end we decided to go for the guys who had done so well for us to get into the final and I am really proud of all their achievements," he added.
(With PTI inputs)