3 opening combinations KKR can try in IPL 2023

KKR have a star-studded squad for IPL 2023. [Pic Credit - KKR]
KKR have a star-studded squad for IPL 2023 [Pic Credit - KKR]

The IPL Auction was held on December 23, 2022 in the city of Kochi. The auction was a dramatic affair as it witnessed some of the most expensive buys in the tournament's history.

The Kolkata Knight Riders had a disappointing 2022 campaign as they finished seventh in the group stage, thereby failing to qualify for the knockouts.

The KKR support staff, led by the likes of Chandrakant Pandit, Abhishek Nayar, David Hussey and Ryan Ten Doeschate, had a busy yet inexpensive auction as their most expensive purchase was Shakib Al Hasan at ₹1.5 crores.

The players purchased by the two-time IPL champions were N. Jagadeesan (₹90 lakhs), Vaibhav Arora (₹60 lakhs), Suyash Sharma (₹20 lakhs), David Wiese (₹1 crore), Kulwant Khejroliya (₹20 lakhs), Litton Das (₹50 lakhs), Mandeep Singh (₹50 lakhs) and Shakib Al Hasan (₹1.5 crores).

After letting go of star opener Shubman Gill before IPL 2022 and breaking his highly successful partnership with Venkatesh Iyer at the top of the order, KKR struggled to get the kind of starts that they would have wanted.

They tried a total of six different opening combinations but all of them failed to provide any solidity at the top of the order. The six different pairs tried by KKR were Sunil Narine and Sam Billings, Aaron Finch and Sunil Narine, Venkatesh Iyer and Aaron Finch, Venkatesh Iyer and Ajinkya Rahane, Baba Indrajith and Aaron Finch and Venkatesh Iyer and Abhijeet Tomar.

On that note, let’s discuss 3 opening combinations that KKR must consider before the 2023 edition of the IPL.

#1 Litton Das and Venkatesh Iyer

Litton Das was acquired by KKR for his base price of ₹50 lakhs. The Bangladesh T20I opener raised eyebrows with his remarkable strokeplay against India in the ICC World T20. He continued his good form even in the recently-concluded India's tour of Bangladesh.

Iyer, on the other hand, might not have been able to repeat his heroics from IPL 2021 last season but is surely a quality player with the ability to play well against both spin and pace. Apart from their quality strokeplay, these players will also provide the left-handed/right-handed opening pair that has historically been a crucial aspect of several great opening pairs in cricket.

The only problem with this pair can be the inability of KKR to include Das in the playing XI. Out of the four available overseas slots, KKR will already have two blocked for Andre Russell and Sunil Narine. The 2 other choices will essentially be a toss-up amongst several world-class performers such as Lockie Ferguson, Shakib Al Hasan, Tim Southee, David Wiese and Litton Das himself.

#2 Mandeep Singh and Sunil Narine

A slightly off-beat opening combination of Mandeep Singh and Sunil Narine could do wonders. While Sunil Narine's swashbuckling nature with the bat is well-known, Mandeep Singh is an experienced domestic star who has plied his trade for several teams in the IPL over the years with distinction.

This opening combination will provide the left-handed/right-handed pairing at the top of the order and KKR can save one overseas position at the top of the order as Sunil Narine will make in the XI as a bowler alone. However, the problem with this pair could be Sunil Narine's lack of consistency and struggles against short bowling, which he is most likely to face at the top of the order.

#3 Narayan Jagadeesan and Venkatesh Iyer

Narayan Jagadeesan is perhaps one of the most well-known batters in the Indian domestic circuit. A scintillating run in the Vijay Hazare Trophy saw him score a whopping 830 runs in just 8 innings at a healthy strike rate of 125.38 and an impressive average of 138.33

He scored five consecutive centuries in the competition and created a List A world record by registering the highest-ever individual score of 277 from 141 balls. Along with Venkatesh Iyer, he can provide the perfect combination of solidity and aggression at the top of the order. This combination will fulfill the left-handed/right-handed combination criteria and also save an overseas slot in the XI.

With that, we conclude our article on 3 opening pairs that KKR should consider before IPL 2023. What are your thoughts on these opening pairs? Let us know in the comments section below.

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Edited by Shubham Banerjee
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