Dynamic within our group has certainly changed: KKR coach Simon Katich
Kolkata Knight Riders went from winning four out of five games to losing six games in a row. (AFP Image)

Assistant coach Simon Katich revealed that all was not well within the Kolkata Knight Riders camp in the middle of the franchise’s slump, which saw them slip to six consecutive defeats. KKR, who began the campaign well before sliding down the points table were left to play catch up during the business end of the league phase.

It all boiled down to KKR needing to win their last league game of the season – against Mumbai Indians – to qualify for the Playoffs, but the two-time IPL champions blew their opportunity by losing by nine wickets and paved the way for Sunrisers Hyderabad to join Mumbai Indians, Chennai Super Kings and Delhi Capitals in the final four.

Over the period of the tumultuous time, there were debates over Andre Russell’s position in the batting line-up with the West Indies allrounder himself expressing the desire to bat at No. 4 and even going to the extent of slamming the team for not capturing key moments. Katich touched upon the topic during the post-match press conference.

“Can’t hide from the fact that there was tension,” he said after the MI game. “That was pretty evident from the last few games after we got on a bit of a roll with losses. We’ve got to address that as a group. What is so important in the IPL is the dynamic in the group, and I guess the unity. That’s something that KKR is very proud of. It’s a very successful franchise and it’s something that everyone involved has worked very hard to contribute to over a long period of time. That’s something we have to certainly work to get better at it because there’s no doubt that throughout this campaign, the dynamic within our group has certainly changed.”

A fifth-place finish isn’t what KKR would have hoped for, especially considering the promising manner in which they started their campaign in. In the first couple of weeks, KKR were competing neck-and-neck with CSK for the top spot with four wins from their first five games. However, with the loss against CSK came the slide and KKR went on to lose matches to Capitals, CSK again, Royal Challengers Bangalore, SRH and Rajasthan Royals.

They broke the six-match losing streak at the Eden Gardens but weren’t quite up to the mark the second time the two teams met. The loss Sunday night was KKR’s eighth at the Wankhede Stadium and Katich admitted that KKR deserved their fifth-spot standing.

“We had a very good start but it fell away badly through that middle phase of the tournament,” he said. “Today is obviously disappointing but it’s a tough ask coming to Mumbai, we don’t obviously have great record here. Yes, it would have been great to win today and get through but to finish where we did is probably what we deserved given how our season went.”

Katich added things might have been different had a couple of things gone differently in the games against RCB and the Royals.

“If you look back on our season, the two missed opportunities we had were in the matches against Royal Challengers Bangalore and Rajasthan Royals. We hadn’t played well through the season but to lose those two games was always going to come back and hurt us in the end. When you look back, in the end, that’s what probably catches up with you, when you don’t win at home, where that wicket suits our style of play, particularly our batsmen, given how flat it’s been,” said Katich.