IPL 2021 KKR Team Preview and Predictions: Kolkata need Narine and Russell fit and firing to be back to their best
It will be interesting to see if KKR play the same brand of attacking cricket as England do, under the captaincy of Eoin Morgan.
Underperforming last year
IPL 2020 was a particularly disappointing edition for Kolkata Knight Riders. Despite having all the ingredients of being a successful team, they were just not able to put all the pieces together and were not able to achieve what they were capable of.
To add to that, Dinesh Karthik decided to let go of the captaincy after the first few matches and by the time newly appointed captain Eoin Morgan could bring the team together to play his style of cricket, too much water had flown under the river.
As a result, KKR finished at the 5th spot after the league stage and were pipped to the post by Royal Challengers Bangalore on net run rate for a playoff spot.
Able back-ups for Narine and Russell
Ahead of IPL 2021, KKR released Tom Banton, Chris Green, Harry Gurney and Ali Khan and decided to rope in Shakib Al Hasan, Sheldon Jackson, Karun Nair, Harbhajan Singh, Ben Cutting and Pawan Negi.
The newly acquired players are not necessarily intended for the starting XI but give KKR a lot of options. The team is likely to open with Shubman Gill and one of Nitish Rana or Rahul Tripathi, unless they still think that the move of promoting Sunil Narine to the top of the order might bring them rich dividends.
It was tough going for KKR heavyweights Andre Russell and Sunil Narine in the last edition which was one of the big reasons for the team's struggles. This year, they have roped in Ben Cutting as a backup for Andre Russell and Shakib Al Hasan as backup for Sunil Narine.
If the two do not put in the performances for 4-5 matches, the team would not think twice before replacing their star players.
Morgan and Cummins to be crucial
KKR's power packed middle-order will comprise Eoin Morgan, Dinesh Karthik and Andre Russell who will come in to bat given the situation of the match rather than a particular number.
In terms of bowling, if they decide to go in with Pat Cummins, which is more than likely, the team will have no option but to leave out tearaway Lockie Ferguson. Ferguson showed what he was capable of in the limited opportunities he got in the last edition.
The team is then likely to pick Shivam Mavi and Prasidh Krishna as their leading Indian pace bowlers while Varun Chakravarthy will partner Sunil Narine in the spin department.
Top Batsman - Runs Scored - Dinesh Karthik
Top Bowler - Wickets Taken - Pat Cummins
Most Sixes - Andre Russell / Eoin Morgan
Predicted starting XI
Kolkata Knight Riders – Rahul Tripathi, Shubman Gill, Nitish Rana, Eoin Morgan (C), Dinesh Karthik (WK), Andre Russell, Sunil Narine, Pat Cummins, Shivam Mavi, Varun Chakravarthy & Prasidh Krishna.
Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) - Eoin Morgan (c), Dinesh Karthik (wk), Shubman Gill, Shakib Al Hasan, Nitish Rana, Tim Seifert, Rahul Tripathi, Rinku Singh, Andre Russell, Sunil Narine, Varun CV, Kuldeep Yadav, Pat Cummins, Lockie Ferguson, Kamlesh Nagarkoti, Shivam Mavi, Sandeep Warrier, Prasidh Krishna, Sheldon Jackson, Vaibhav Arora, Karun Nair, Harbhajan Singh, Ben Cutting, Venkatesh Iyer, Pawan Negi
© Cricket World 2021