Kolkata Knight Riders have been found wanting on more than one front in IPL 2022, but head coach Brendon McCullum singled out their struggles in the powerplay in a disappointing campaign.
The former champions suffered their seventh defeat on Saturday night, a 75-run drubbing by Lucknow Super Giants in Pune.
"We struggled in the powerplay which has been a frustration for us throughout the season," McCullum said, adding that the team needs to find a way to be more aggressive without losing wickets in the first six overs.
The Shreyas Iyer-led side now finds itself on the brink of elimination.
"We've been good throughout the middle phase and not too bad at the death," McCullum said, at the post-match press conference.
"But in the powerplay we've been a little stuck and we've to find a method to not lose many wickets and also throw a few punches and get a few boundaries," he added.
KKR have used several opening combinations this season but failed to find the one that clicks. Their openers have not been able to give kind of starts required for teams to win matches.
"If you look around other teams at the top of the table, one of their opening batters is also one of their highest run-scorers. It's an area we haven't been able to settle. Unfortunately, some of the guys haven't been in the form that they would have liked to.
"That happens, sometimes. In a quick tournament, you do have to sometimes change personnel. It's been a little frustrating. But the guys have been working really hard, it hasn't necessarily worked out for us but can't fault their effort."
Taking about the chopping and changing of the playing eleven throughout the season, the New Zealander said: "Few changes were forced upon us with overseas players joining in late in the tournament plus a couple of injuries and loss of form.
“It's not always easy but we need to find a method to deal with the attacks that come to us."
KKR retained Venkatesh Iyer ahead of the auction but the all-rounder, who enjoyed a breakout last season, struggled to put up good performances with the bat and ball and was eventually dropped from the side.
"He did not get as many runs as he would have liked to. We were forced into a situation where we had to look for other options. That's disappointing for someone who has represented India in the last 7-8 months on the back of what was a very good IPL last time in the UAE.
"That's a little bit of frustrating for him as well. He is working hard at the nets, trying to get his form back. That will certainly be a consideration. He is certainly not out of contention for the games to come."
McCullum feels teams have done their homework on the all-rounder and figured out how to play him.
"It's Venky's second year. Teams do a little bit more homework; it's been historically the case in this tournament even in international cricket.
"It's an opportunity for Venkatesh to work on his game and improve, to come back stronger.
"He is a real talent, has got a good head on his shoulders. I know he is determined to take that next step and start to perform more regularly."