Kolkata Knight Riders, the defending champions in the IPL, started their campaign with a confident win against Delhi Daredevils, but stumbled against Rajasthan Royals, slumping to a 19-run loss in Jaipur on Monday. The defeat prompted Gautam Gambhir, the captain, to urge his side to not only play fearless cricket but also play smart cricket.
"It's pretty disappointing, to be honest," said Gambhir at the post-match press conference. "I think the bowlers did a fantastic job. It was a very good cricket wicket - it had something for the new ball and became flat later on. Restricting them to 144 was a fantastic effort, we should have easily chased it down... but whenever we were having a partnership, there was a bad shot."
Kolkata started well, but from 19 for no loss in 2.1 overs, they slid to 56 for 6 in 11 overs in pursuit of Rajasthan's 144 for 6.
"I've always said we need to be fearless, but at the same time, being fearless doesn't mean you go out there and keep hitting every ball. When you have a start of 20 runs in two overs and you need only 125 runs in 18 overs, you can't end up losing six or seven wickets for nothing," reasoned Gambhir, repeatedly emphasising the need for his side to play smart as well. "Today we played fearless cricket, but we weren't smart at all. When you get into the tournament as champions, you can't afford to lose these kind of games."
Gambhir did have words of praise for Eoin Morgan, who was the only top order batsman to come good with 51 off 38 balls. "Morgan was a big plus for us, because we wanted him to score in the initial stages so that he can carry that confidence through the tournament," said Gambhir. "Morgs has been a fantastic finisher for England, so hopefully he can do the same for us as well."
Part of the reason for Kolkata's collapse was an excellent spell in the middle overs from Siddharth Trivedi, the right-arm medium pacer who returned figures of 3 for 23, including the scalps of Gambhir and Manoj Tiwary. Trivedi was part of an all-seam attack for Rajasthan, a tactic that paid handsome dividends.
"The ball was seaming and there was good carry. As a team, we bowled to our plan and got the right wickets at the right time," said Trivedi, the Man of the Match, adding, "Cooper turned the game completely in our favour with Morgan's wicket."
Trivedi is a Rajasthan veteran, having been with the team since the inaugural season in 2008. "I've been playing with the franchise for five years and I'm very emotionally attached to them. They're the first ones who gave me the exposure to play in such a big tournament."