IPL 2020: KKR Team Preview - Caribbean all-rounders Russell & Narine remain key as Cummins looks to justify price tag
Number four seems to be the best possible spot for Russell, with Nitish Rana and Eoin Morgan on either side of him, and Dinesh Karthik at six.
2012 and 2014 were the best years for Kolkata Knight Riders when they won the IPL trophy under the leadership of Gautam Gambhir. With Gambhir first moving to Delhi Capitals and then retiring, and Dinesh Karthik being given the reigns of KKR, the last couple of years have been a phase of rebuilding for the team. This season, the franchise looks a lot more settled and is expected to make the playoffs, at the least.
Cummins and Morgan Kolkata's big overseas attractions
There is a lot of excitement around KKR due to two big international signings. One is Pat Cummins, for whom the franchise broke the bank and shelled out no less than 15.5 crore rupees. While Cummins is certainly among the best bowlers in a world cricket in tests and ODIs, the same cannot be said about him in T20I with as much authority.
The Australian does have variations up his sleeve, but he is no Lasith Malinga. The huge price tag can also weigh him down and it would be a big test of character this year for him.
Another player who has peaked interest is Eoin Morgan. England's white-ball skipper has been in the form of his life for the last couple of years and has averaged over 50 while striking at 177.07 in his last 18 T20 innings. Morgan has made 726 runs in this period and is expected to play a big part in how KKR perform this year.
Tom Banton, despite all his talent, will be their backup opener.
With Lynn gone, Gill to open
The franchise having released Chris Lynn, Shubman Gill will finally get an opportunity to open the batting, where the youngster is the most suited. Gill averages 47.20 in IPL games while opening the batting while striking at over 140. When he bats in the middle order, the average drops to 26.30 while the strike rate slips to 126.44. With Gill set to open the batting alongside Sunil Narine, he can have a breakout year.
Russel at 3? Too high!
There is plenty of talent for KKR to choose from. The biggest point of consideration for them will be the batting order. There are talks of promoting Andre Russell in the batting line-up, with Hussey suggesting to fix him at number 3, which might be a notch too high for the big hitter.
Number 4 seems to be the best possible spot for him, with Nitish Rana and Eoin Morgan on either side of him. Dinesh Karthik can then bat at 6 and play the finisher's role which he did with finesse last to last year.
Cummins, Mavi, Nagarkoti and Kuldeep - that's some bowling attack
Lockie Ferguson may have to wait in the wings given that there is room for only one overseas bowler, which will obviously be Pat Cummins. With under-19 sensations Shivam Mavi and Kamlesh Nagarkoti fit, both are expected to be drafted into the playing XI.
Kuldeep Yadav will be another vital cog for the KKR side. He did not have a great season last year, playing just nine matches in which he picked up only four wickets and gave away runs at an economy of 8.66. If the left-arm wrist spinner can produce a strike rate of around 20, which he did in 2018 and 2017, KKR can restrict the opposition to smaller totals.
The choice for KKR's final bowling slot will be between talented medium pacer Prasidh Krishna and mystery spinner Varun Chakravarthy.
Probable Starting XI
Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) - Shubman Gill, Sunil Narine, Nitish Rana, Andre Russell, Eoin Morgan, Dinesh Karthik(c & wk), Pat Cummins, Shivam Mavi, Kuldeep Yadav, Kamlesh Nagarkoti, Prasidh Krishna/Varun Chakravarthy.
Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) - Andre Russell, Dinesh Karthik, Harry Gurney, Kamlesh Nagarkoti, Kuldeep Yadav, Lockie Ferguson, Nitish Rana, Prasidh Krishna, Rinku Singh, Sandeep Warrier, Shivam Mavi, Shubman Gill, Siddhesh Lad, Sunil Narine, Pat Cummins, Eoin Morgan, Varun Chakravarti, Tom Banton, Rahul Tripathi, Chris Green, Nikhil Naik, Pravin Tambe, M Siddharth
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