Kolkata suffered a loss that could have been really humiliating until Eoin Morgan saved them the blushes with a fine blitz in the end. What could have been Kolkata's game if they had been smart enough on a ground tailor-made for them, turned into a disaster for them instead. Here are three things the management should ponder over before they step out on the field again.
The team combination
It's true that the side is messed up in terms of composition. Rahul Tripathi was finally in the mix in this fixture but instead of opening at the top with him and Shubman Gill, Kolkata played into Delhi's hands by continuing their Sunil Narine experiment at the top. Kagiso Rabada greeted him with a bouncer as did Anrich Nortje and before Kolkata could take a breather, Nortje had cleaned up Narine.
Having two overseas hit-the-deck pace bowlers bowling against a majority of Indian batsmen is always a winning formula even considering the improvement Indian batsmen today have against the short ball. Mumbai have thrived on this formula for ages and now Delhi and even Bangalore to an extent have lined up for this year. Kolkata have Lockie Ferguson on the bench and at least on the Sharjah wicket, they should have known that he can complement Pat Cummins brilliantly. Narine needn't even have played this fixture.
The bowling changes
Dinesh Karthik's captaincy was left wanting in both innings as Kolkata made some questionable choices, particularly when bowling. Karthik had Shreyas Iyer, who is consistently troubled by extra pace and bounce, at the crease and instead of bowling pace and bounce at him with Russell and Cummins, he opted to give Narine, Varun Chakravarthy, Kamlesh Nagarkoti and Shivam Mavi to tackle the middle overs as though there was a set template.
Even pardoning that, with Iyer well and set and ready to launch, Karthik had Chakravarthy returning for the 19th over. Iyer took full toll of the young spinner unsurprisingly. With pacers up his sleeve, the decision to bowl Chakravarthy to a set Iyer was disastrous and cost the team extra runs.
The usage of Eoin Morgan
The England skipper was acquired to strengthen the Kolkata middle-order and give it a scary look. However, Kolkata has been consistently promoting Karthik over Morgan and in a run-chase like this, it was bizarre to see the England captain hidden away.
A terrific ball striker, Morgan has a fabulous T20 record in recent times and is particularly effective on small grounds like Sharjah. That he was held back affected Kolkata's chances and he proved as much when he walked in with purpose and launched the first ball for six before nearly taking Kolkata over the line with a terrific knock.
If Kolkata do not plan to give Morgan the base to set himself up for a finish, they might as well play Tom Banton at the top to give young Shubman Gill the leeway to play at his comfortable pace. Right now, Kolkata have their strengths focused in one area - middle-order - but haven't allowed the batsmen there, especially Morgan, to express themselves.
Feature image courtesy: AFP / Dibyangshu Sarkar