Kolkata Knight Riders was a team that underperformed in IPL 2020.
The biggest reason was, none of their batsmen really got going. Though Shubman Gill had a couple of decent outings, the rest of the batting line-up failed to turn up.
One would have thought that KKR will go all out to try and fix this.
Surprisingly, the batting still looks fragile and doesn’t inspire confidence.
Former captain Gautam Gambhir echoed the same fears and was very candid in his analysis. He said, “Apart from Shubman Gill and to a certain extent Nitish Rana, I don’t see so much of quality.”
The team looks overly reliant on Dinesh Karthik who had a forgettable IPL in 2020.
KKR also seems to suffer from the Andre Russell hangover. Andre is an explosive batsman, no doubt but there is a genuine fear that his best days are behind him.
The stats reveal that he has been inconsistent and has failed to attain the high strike rates that made him such a hot draw in the T20 format.
What’s more, he has a patchy fitness record and gets injured often.
So, it’s risky to count him in the plans for the entire duration of the tournament.
In all likelihood, Sunil Narine and Gill will open the innings.
Dinesh Kartik, Eoin Morgan, Nitish Rana and Russell will form the middle order.
The bowling is in much better shape than the batting with an attack comprising of Pat Cummins, Lockie Ferguson, Varun Chakravarthy and Shivam Mavi.
Kuldeep Yadav’s stock has fallen considerably but if he can rediscover his chinaman, his bowling can be a game changer.
Ultimately, KKR needs to find that competitive edge and most likely, it will be provided by 3 players, who weren’t part of the team last year.
One, Shakib al Hasan, a classy performer who can contribute with both bat and ball.
Two, Harbhajan Singh, who provides tons of experience and a never-say-die spirit.
Three, Karun Nair who can provide stability to the batting order and is hungry to prove a point.
They also have two other players with incredible T20 records – Ben Cutting and Tim Seifert. Including them will be a challenge owing to the restriction of the number of foreign players.
However if Russell fails to deliver, Cutting might replace him and Seifert is a makeshift opener if Narine gets injured.
Eoin Morgan, Dinesh Karthik, Nitish Rana, Shubman Gill, Rinku Singh, Rahul Tripathi, Kamlesh Nagarkoti, Kuldeep Yadav, Lockie Ferguson, Pat Cummins, Prasidh Krishna, Sandeep Warrier, Shivam Mavi, Varun Chakaravarthy, Andre Russell, Sunil Narine, Tim Seifert.
Shakib al Hasan, Karun Nair, Harbhajan Singh, Sheldon Jackson, Pawan Negi, Venkatesh Iyer and Vaibhav Arora
Tom Banton, Chris Green, Siddesh Lad, Nikhil Naik, M Siddarth.