Kolkata: When Eoin Morgan was handed the captaincy of Kolkata Knight Riders midway in the IPL 2020 in the UAE when Dinesh Karthik ‘‘stepped’’ down, he was hailed as the natural choice. After all, when you have a proven leader and a World Cup winning captain in the ranks, why not?
A little over seven months down the line, the white ball captain of England who revolutionised their approach of playing the shorter formats, must have realised that it was possibly an easier job to chart the roadmap of English cricket rather than leading a IPL team with demanding fans. There are already demands on social media for changing the captain as Morgan looks a confused man in the dugout – while his severe drought of runs with the bat has hardly helped.
Take their Saturday’s match against Rajasthan Royals in Mumbai for example. It was a yes-no from striker Rahul Tripathi which brought about the unfortunate run out of Morgan – with his sequences of scores this season being 2, 7, 29,7 and 0. The need of the hour for the Knights at that point was to shore up the run-rate as their openers had just managed 25 runs in the powerplay on a wicket which promised the runs.
Despite Andre Russell coming good in the previous match with a blazing 54 off 22 balls, one was surprised to see Sunil Narine and Dinesh Karthik coming out ahead of the Caribbean who eventually came in at number seven in the 16th over. Such a decision from the KKR management has created quite a havoc and Morgan cannot escape some of the blame. There have been a number of occasions when it seemed that he had come in with a set plan with no Plan B, the other critical one coming to mind being his taking away Varun Chakravarthy from the attack against RCB after just one over in which the latter picked up two wickets, including that of Virat Kohli.
Interestingly enough, when Karthik stepped down from the captaincy in Abu Dhabi last year, KKR had won four out of seven matches – but the pressure kept mounting on the former Indian wicketkeeper for a lack of form and hesitant captaincy. They had, however, finished fifth in overall standings and lost out on the play-off spot to RCB on nett run-rate, This time around, KKR have slumped to their fourth straight loss in five matches and are in need of a quick turnaround.
It will, however, be a disastrous move if KKR think of replacing Morgan with a new face as the captain at this stage. The history of IPL reveals that there had been more successful Indian captains than overseas ones, though legends like Shane Warne, Adam Gilchirst or David Warner have won the title. Both Warne and Gilchrist were larger-than-life characters and succeeded at a time when the dynamics of T20 cricket were still evolving, while Warner has been given a free reign by the Sunrisers Hyderabad.
Morgan has to be his own man if he has to succeed in this role – otherwise he could end up being another convenient scapegoat!