CSK vs KKR, IPL 2021 Final: Outplayed by very good CSK, says McCullum

MCullum also stated that explosive batter Andre Russell could not make the XI despite working hard to be match-fit after a hamstring injury.

FILE PHOTO: Brendon McCullum said that his team KKR was outplayed by a very good CSK side in the 2021 IPL Final on Friday but also blamed an underwhelming middle-order batting performance for the comprehensive loss.   -  Getty Images

Kolkata Knight Riders head coach Brendon McCullum conceded that his team was outplayed by a very good Chennai Super Kings side in the IPL final but also blamed an underwhelming middle-order batting performance for the comprehensive loss.

MCullum also stated that explosive batter Andre Russell could not make the XI despite working hard to be match-fit after a hamstring injury.

Mahendra Singh Dhoni led Chennai Super Kings to its fourth Indian Premier League title, outwitting Kolkata Knight Riders by 27 runs in a one-sided final on Friday.

"It's a shame that we fell short, but we were outplayed by a very good CSK side today," McCullum said at the post-match press conference.

Kolkata suffered a middle-order collapse and when asked whether the problem lay precisely there, McCullum agreed.

"Yeah, I think, that's a fair assessment."

"I think, our bowling group did really good job, we fielded well and our top-order batting was superb, but unfortunately we weren't quite able to get the real impact through our middle-order players "...there is a lot of experience there and they did not have the greatest of tournaments and that can happen at times," lamented McCullum.

READ: Dhoni on CSK future: Have to decide what's good for Chennai Super Kings

"...but again I am just really proud of all the guys for their efforts and what a story it was to go as close as we did after being under the pump half way through the," he added.

The former New Zealand mainstay said the campaign has been fulfilling in more ways than one.

"...more positives than negatives, that is for sure and we walk away with our head held high," he asserted.

McCullum also explained why Russell, who was recovering from a hamstring injury, could not make it to the summit clash.

"...Andre obviously had a hamstring tear early on in the competition. He worked unbelievably hard to try and get himself available. He was still at risk there. And it was a risk, I felt in a final, we just couldn't afford to take," the former wicketkeeper-batter explained.

"And then we had another hamstring issue with Rahul Tripathi, so, look, such is the nature of hamstrings that he was never really sure whether they are going to be fully healed or not, and it's such a big risk.

"...in the end we decided to go for the guys who had done so well for us to get into the final and I am really proud of all their achievements," he added.

McCullum also lavished praise on the in-form Venkatesh Iyer, who played a key role in the team making it to the summit clash.

Kolkata was languishing at the seventh spot after the India leg of the IPL was suspended, but in a remarkable turn of fortunes, the Eoin Morgan-led side ended up second.

"He (Iyer) will be challenged to change his methods at times too. He might not necessarily be the most consistent because of his flamboyancy. But I hope he remains the Venkatesh Iyer that we have seen so far," said McCullum.

READ: IPL 2021: 'The Kings have roared back' - CSK's win celebrated on Twitter

"He's got an enormous future in this game and he's a very intelligent man. He was a big catalyst for our turnaround this season."

Iyer amassed 370 runs from the 10 games that he played in the 2021 season and the head coach termed his story as an incredible one.

"But look, Venkatesh Iyer has been quite an incredible story. Looking back, he was actually going to play the last game, the next game when we were in India. In a funny way, the break came at a good time there," he said.

"It gave him an opportunity to just get another couple of months of cricket under his belt, to understand that his opportunities weren't too far away," said the former New Zealand wicket-keeper.

Himself a big advocate of aggressive brand of cricket, McCullum felt Iyer should not change his attacking game.

"For him, it was a matter of bringing the game which he owns – the Venkatesh Iyer game plan to the table, which is aggressive intent.

"He's a big presence, he's a tall man. He plays the game with a bit of a cavalier kind of streak. And that is so important that he holds on to it," said the KKR head coach.

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