IPL 2020: Kolkata Knight Riders would hope for a repeat of 2014
There were two glaring weaknesses in the Kolkata Knight Riders’ (KKR) squad in 2019, the lack of an overseas pacer of repute and a weak bench. The fact that KKR were not able to make it to the playoffs playing the way they did is a little surprising when one looks at the numbers.
Andre Russell, the star all-rounder alone, amassed 510 runs, at a strike of over 200 in 14 games in the last edition of the league. He also had 11 wickets under his name.
With the inclusions of Pat Cummins, Tom Banton and Chris Green, KKR seem to have done well in this year’s auction. Pat Cummins will play a crucial role in addressing the franchisee’s powerplay woes. In IPL 2019, they could only manage 16 wickets upfront.
Kuldeep Yadav’s form will be important to KKR’s chances. With the sluggish pitch of Abu Dhabi, where KKR are slated to play 8 of their 14 league matches, it would be vital for Kuldeep to get amongst the wickets. He had a dismal season last year. The KKR mainstay Sunil Narine would also be raring to go on such pitches.
While Russell and Narine are direct picks in the squad because of their all-round capabilities, Cummins, being the most expensive buy ever in the IPL, would surely be a part of the starting 11. Eoin Morgan, owing to his recent form in this format of the game, will be the first choice to fill the fourth slot.
KKR have an enviable batting squad. With Shubman Gill and Sunil Narine, they have a combo of an explosive and a stabiliser, one of whom is also a frontline bowler. With Andre Russell set to be promoted up the order, the middle order will have him, Eoin Morgan and Dinesh Kartik, all batsmen perfectly capable of altering the game's course. The sensible cum explosive Nitish Rana, who can also roll his arms if need be, will bridge the three.
There are just two things that would always be on the mind of KKR’s skipper. In case of an injury to Andre Russell, they don’t have a like for like replacement and the two Indian bowlers, which shall be toss-up from amongst the five, are not precisely the ones who would inspire fear.
KKR last won the trophy in 2014, and Narine and Russell are the only two from that squad who are still a part of the team.
Best XI: Shubman Gill, Sunil Narine, Nitish Rana, Dinesh Kartik (c & wk), Eoin Morgan, Andre Russel, Rahul Tripathi, Pat Cummins, Kuldeep Yadav, Kamlesh Nagarkoti/Shivam Mavi/Varun Chakravarthy, Sandeep Warrier/Prasidh Krishna