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Kevin Pietersen Betway blog: IPL column 29 04 22

29 Apr | BY Kevin Pietersen | MIN READ TIME |
Kevin Pietersen Betway blog: IPL column 29 04 22

The Betway ambassador reveals his favourites to win the IPL, criticises the ‘mess’ at KKR and analyses Ben Stokes' appointment as England Test captain.

Gujarat Titans are the team to beat

At the moment, it looks like Gujarat Titans are going to be difficult to stop in the IPL.

They are consistently finding ways to win, whether from a good, middling or bad position in games. When you have that winning mentality, it becomes very difficult to break.

I didn’t see them being at the top of the table when I first saw their squad, but they are on a roll.

It reminds me of Rajasthan Royals when they won the title under Shane Warne in 2008 – they weren’t the best side on paper but everybody knew what they were doing and they had a great mentality.

When you’re winning like that, the energy in the dressing room is so positive.

Nobody talks about defeats, everybody has a smile on their face, and everybody is thinking positively. That then allows you to go out and express yourself and play even better.

They’re not inhibited. They’re just doing what feels right instinctively. Look at Rashid Khan when he got them over the line against Sunrisers Hyderabad the other night. He just had this positive attitude and was able to pull it off.

Rajasthan Royals are going really well, too, while I expect Delhi Capitals, with all of their experience, to make a good push for the top four.

Those three teams are my favourites to win the competition.

KKR are in a mess

I was working on the game on Thursday when Kolkata Knight Riders crumbled to defeat against Delhi.

I know that Mumbai Indians are having a shocker, but KKR are also in a dreadful way. They won three of their first four games and have totally lost it since then.

They’ve used 19 players so far, which is far too many. For a franchise as big as them, it’s just a horrible state of affairs.

That is a dressing room full of the opposite energy to Gujarat: negative, negative, negative.

Last year, that run to the final was defined by out-of-the-box thinking. They had their analyst, Nathan Leamon, front and centre, sending signals out to the middle, and they seemed really innovative.

Now it seems like the whole thing has run out of momentum. Along with Mumbai, they are my disappointments of the competition so far.

Wrist spin is crucial in this IPL

We’ve been full of praise for the hard, bouncy wickets on commentary because they allow for lots of runs and entertaining games.

But if there is one thing that spinners love it’s bounce, so it’s no surprise that spin is having such a big say in this competition.

The top two wicket-takers in the competition are spinners – and it’s particularly nice to see Kuldeep Yadav, such an exciting talent, going well.

Orthodox spinners can be easier to line up, but mystery wrist spinners like Kuldeep and Yuzvendra Chahal are so difficult to play.

Stokes is one of several appointments England must get right

Being appointed as England Test captain is an incredible honour. Ben Stokes and his family will be incredibly proud and rightly so.

I’m a firm believer that the England team needs a leadership group with some gravitas and personality.

I enjoyed hearing Rob Key talking about getting the best coaching system in place to change the mentality of the team. It’s been so doom and gloom, the cricket’s been poor and the results have been rubbish. The whole thing needs a shake-up.

They’ve got to get the right personnel in charge, above the team, to make sure that the environment is right.

Key is a good start, Stokes has the personality to captain the side, and personally I would love to see Graham Ford come in as Test coach to complete the brain trust.

He is an incredible man manager and he’ll work with every player all day long. He’ll give you throwdowns until dark and you can ring him at 2am with any issue.

He’s a fabulous leader who understands the game of cricket like no other.

Ultimately, though, Stokes and the new coach will be hamstrung until a radical overhaul of the system improves the quality of players coming through.

It will be difficult until then, but I wish Stokes the best of luck.

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Kevin Pietersen

World T20 and four-time Ashes winner, who retired as England’s second-highest run scorer of all time with 13,797 across all formats.

Kevin Pietersen

World T20 and four-time Ashes winner, who retired as England’s second-highest run scorer of all time with 13,797 across all formats.