England are hoping the IPL final can revive Morgan’s disastrous form ahead of the T20 World Cup.
If winning is a habit then England are hoping Eoin Morgan’s Kolkata Knight Riders get the upper hand in the Indian Premier League (IPL) final against the Chennai Super Kings.
For the warm-up, it’s the perfect forerunner as Morgan becomes the first English player to attempt to lead a team to IPL glory before attempting to become the only skipper in history to skipper both the United Arab Emirates and Oman.
His team’s path to the final went through more ups and downs than England’s Ashes negotiations and culminated in a nerve-wracking semi-final victory over the Dehli Capitals.
KKR only took 13 of 25 balls in a seemingly easy run chase of 136 but managed to lose six wickets for seven runs in a dramatic breakdown. Step in front of Rahul Tripathi, who smashed Ravichandran Ashwin’s penultimate ball into six to seal the win with only one ball left.
Now the Calcutta franchise is heading to Dubai in search of a third IPL title after winning the tournament in both 2012 and 2014.
In the game, Morgan will face MS Dhoni, who could play his last IPL game at the age of 40. It’s a meeting of two of the brightest cricket brains, but also a clash between two players struggling with the bat since the tournament in the United Arab Emirates after its postponement in India in May due to the rise of Covid-19 Rates among the players involved resumed the competition.
Dhoni remains an iconic figure in India and millions will hope that if he calls it a day after this year’s tournament, he will sign off with a winning score. Moeen Ali will hope so too, as the English all-rounder had a successful IPL with the racket – 320 runs with a hit rate of 133 – and a useful tournament with the ball. His savings rate of just 6.35 played a key role in Chennai’s run into the final .
Morgan, meanwhile, continues to split opinion. Before changing the tournament, KKR had only won two of its first seven games. But while her form has improved dramatically since the resumption, Morgans has remained adamantly absent.
His lack of runs has drawn criticism from the likes of former India opener Virender Sehwag, who said the English captain of the white ball did little “but talk” for the franchises he played for in the IPL .
Morgan scored just 129 runs averaging 11 runs in this year’s competition, with his hit rate of 98 also well below that of the other recognized batsmen in the KKR lineup. That includes a 47 not out, remove that and his campaign with the bat would have been even more disastrous.
Since returning to the UAE, Morgan has had double digits, a run that has included two ducks against the Delhi Capitals, the last of which came on Wednesday as wickets fell amid KKR panic.
He was also similar in shape in T20 cricket in an England shirt. Since he scored 66 against Pakistan at Old Trafford last summer, he has a high of 28 in T20 format. That summer, he scored just 49 runs in four innings against Sri Lanka and Pakistan.
With 107 T20 caps – not to mention 246 ODI appearances for England – Morgan clearly has credit in the bank, and if the KKR wins the IPL, its failures will largely be forgotten, at least until the next auction of the next competition takes place. But England needed it to end its drought sooner rather than later. Ideally against Dhoni’s Chennai team in Dubai.