Mohali: Admitting that the batting has been the weak link so far, Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) coach Trevor Bayliss on Tuesday indicated that there might be some changes when his team takes on Kings XI Punjab (KXIP) in the Indian Premier League match (IPL) on Wednesday. "I don't think we batted anywhere near our best. Bangalore was our best effort with the bat [which KKR won by 42 runs]. If we could bat more like that in the competition, we are going to be difficult to beat," Bayliss said at a press conference on the eve of the match.
The batsmen are yet to create an impression and the coach said that there would be some changes in the line-up. "I haven't seen the wicket here. Last game that was played here, we watched it on TV and the wicket was different than what we got in Kolkata. We will sit down tonight or early tomorrow morning and discuss. But there is a possibility of some change. I cannot say where that will be [whether the middle order or somewhere else], but we will have to discuss."
The Knight Riders have a strong batting line up, consisting of the likes of Jacques Kallis, Gautam Gambhir, Manoj Tiwary, Shakib-al-Hasan and Yusuf Pathan. But none of them have managed to live up to their reputation yet. When asked about Pathan's continuous failure with the bat, the coach strongly came to his defence, saying he is a "match-winner and a batsman who can change the complexion of the game within minutes".
Bayliss also said that Yusuf has the full support of the team and it was just a matter of time before he gets back to his devastating form. KKR suffered consecutive defeats in the first two games of the IPL 5 due to their batting collapses. They lost by eight wickets to Delhi Daredevils before succumbing to a 22-run defeat to Rajasthan Royals. However, they won their next two matches before going down again to Punjab in the last game.
Bayliss though was happy with his bowling unit. "Our bowlers have done well in five matches. It is our batting that has let us down. Balaji, Sunil Narine, Brett Lee and even Kallis has done a good job. Shakib had a good game. We are very happy with our bowling."
Asked about Iqbal Abdullah not being a part of the team, Bayliss said, "It's a very difficult situation. He obviously performed well last season. With the advent of Sunil Narine coming on board, it makes it more difficult for him [to be included in the playing XI]."But as I have said that we will play different combinations on different wickets. So I see him playing a role in this competition. He understands there are some very good players in the squad. This time, he is the unlucky one, but I am sure he will get to play his role at some stage."
Asked why KKR had lost close matches despite being a strong team, Bayliss said, "That's the game of T20. You've got to take it on your chin. Some you lose, some you win. But it is always harder to win the close ones when you are not on the top of your game. That's what we are working towards achieving, which I am sure every team strives for. And when you reach that point, you try to keep playing well for as long as possible."
He also said that the beauty of T20 competition is that anybody can beat anybody and there are some last-ball finishes, which is fantastic for the game and the fans. Asked if hectic travel schedules, different match conditions at different venues take a toll even on quality players, the Bayliss said: "They have to reinforce in their minds that they are good players. It's a matter of time and concentration, they will come good. Things can click straight away once they spend some time in the middle. These guys are experienced enough and can turn around things very quickly."