Mitchell Johnson (r) seen with Chris Lynn (l) © AFP
Mitchell Johnson (r) seen with Chris Lynn (l) © AFP

Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) bowling coach Heath Streak on Thursday hinted that Australian veteran pacer Mitchell Johnson might be back for their second home game against Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH) after being rested in their five-wicket defeat to Chennai Super Kings (CSK) in the Indian Premier League (IPL). ”It was a tough performance, we got to learn from those mistakes. (We need to) make sure we come back strongly. Mitchell Johnson missed out. He was rested with a slight niggle, hopefully he will be back for the next game and that will add a bit of strength,” Streak, 44, told reporters on the sidelines of KKR’s practice session at the Eden Gardens here.

Sam Billings’ 23-ball 56 coupled with Shane Watson’s 19-ball 42 helped CSK pull off a heist as they beat KKR by five wickets in a thrilling game on Tuesday. KKR had set CSK a target of 203 riding Andre Russell’s unbeaten 36-ball 88. But their bowlers flopped big time as Watson at the start and Billings towards the end took all of them to the cleaners.

“The biggest thing for us was execution of our plans. in the middle, our spinners bowled really well but we went in for too many runs in the Powerplay which was hard to pull back,” the former Zimbabwe seamer and captain said.

“We had a couple of costly drop catches — Billings when he was batting on 9 — and he batted superbly. We also did not bowl to our best. We just need to put our collective bowling performance in our next game,” he reflected.

Veteran Karnataka seamer R Vinay Kumar was particularly poor, failing to defend 17 runs in the final over of the game. Vinay Kumar started off proceedings on a sour note too, leaking 16 runs in the first over.

Streak said he erred with his line and length and suggested he could be axed against Hyderabad.

“It’s always a tough one. I’ve seen him defending big scores in previous matches. Obviously, he missed the line and it went for a six (in the first ball of the final over). It’s always easy in retrospect. I know he’s really disappointed,” he said.

Streak though did not want to comment on whether the XI which played in the last encounter would be tweaked or not.

Hyderabad showed in their first game that they have the most diverse bowling attack in the competition. India’s celebrated pacer Bhuvneshwar Kumar leads the line with his swing bowling while Billy Stanlake has raw pace and Siddarth Kaul can hit the deck.

The spinning department, led by Afghanistan’s  highly-rated leg-spinner Rashid Khan, also has the likes of Shakib Al Hasan with his orthodox left-arm spin.

Streak said they need to be “very careful” of the opponent’s bolwers. “I think they have got an exceptionally good bowling line up so they are very dangerous with their bowlers. I think they have got a good mix. We have to be careful of that,” he said.

“We are playing good cricket, we have had a couple of good games with the bat. We bowled well in the first game and I think if we can put together a good batting and bowling performance collectively , we can turn them over,” said Streak, who is the first Zimbabwean to reach 100 Test wickets.

Streak lavished praise on Russell who hit the maximum sixes (11) by a batsman in the IPL.

“To have someone who can bowl 135kph and 140kph and bats the way he bats, is just …he is worth every rupee they pay him. He is very valuable and he is playing some good cricket. Hopefully he can continue to do that for the remainder of the season.”

Streak signed off by adding that mystery spinner Sunil Narine, who was used as death ball bowler by former captain Gautam Gambhir in some cases, operated in the middle overs to check the run flow.

“Like in the last match, because we had to pull the game back and we felt using him to try and control the game would be a good idea. I think you will see some changes tactically from DK in the next game.”