Kolkata Knight Riders were eliminated from the playoff race when they lost by nine wickets to Mumbai Indians in the last league game. The two-time IPL champions paid the price for six consecutive losses in the middle of the league stages. Andre Russell was lighting up the tournament with some sustained big hitting and his finishing prowess at the end was one of the highlights of the tournament. However, during the middle of this losing streak, Russell criticised the decisions taken by the team and it suggested all was not well in the team environment. Speaking after the end of the match, assistant coach Simon Katich acknowledged there was tension.
“There is no doubt and we can't hide from the fact that there was some tension on the field. That was pretty evident in the last, I guess, few games after we got into a bit of a roll with losses. We have to address that as a group. There is no doubt throughout this campaign that the dynamic in our group has certainly changed,” Katich said.
Russell had criticised some of the decisions taken by skipper Dinesh Karthik, including not sending him up the batting order and his statement of an unhealthy team atmosphere. There was also a clear on-field display of lack of unity between the two players over the last few matches. Katich said the home defeats against Rajasthan Royals and Royal Challengers Bangalore played a key role in their ouster, eventually making their last match against MI a must-win one and that too at Wankhede, where they have a dismal record.
"It's disappointing. It's always a tough ask to come to Mumbai where we don't have a great record. Yes, it would have been nice to win and get through. To finish where we did (fifth on the table) - it's probably what we deserved. We had a great start but fell away badly through that middle phase," Katich said.
Mumbai Indians registered their 19th win in 25 games against Kolkata Knight Riders as they qualified for the knockout stages and finished in the top two. They will take on three-time champions Chennai Super Kings in the first qualifier at the MA Chidambaram stadium while Delhi Capitals will take on Sunrisers Hyderabad.