IPL 2020: Strongest probable playing XI for Kolkata Knight Riders
- Kolkata Knight Riders will be looking to win their third overall and first IPL title since 2014.
- Their foreign recruits, Russell, Morgan, Cummins, and Narine, will again hold the key to their success.
Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) is one of the most popular teams in the Indian Premier League (IPL), with the passionate Kolkata crowd always behind them through thick and thin. The two-time winners would want to end their six-year wait for the IPL title, with their last win coming way back in 2014.
Since their last win, KKR have made it to the playoffs on three occasions but did not manage to qualify for the title clash even once. They will be hoping that having Brendon McCullum, a former Knight Rider himself, at the helm as the Chief Coach will bring about a change in their fortunes.
Kolkata Knight Riders Squad for IPL 2020: Dinesh Karthik (C), Shubman Gill, Sunil Narine, Tom Banton, Nitish Rana, Rinku Singh, Rahul Tripathi, Nikhil Naik, Siddhesh Lad, Eoin Morgan, Andre Russell, Chris Green, Kuldeep Yadav, Varun Chakravarthy, M Siddharth, Pat Cummins, Harry Gurney, Lockie Ferguson, Kamlesh Nagarkoti, Prasidh Krishna, Sandeep Warrier, Shivam Mavi
With a relatively inexperienced Indian line-up, KKR has tended to rely heavily on their foreign recruits and that seems to be the case this year as well, with Pat Cummins adding to their overseas might.
Keeping the above squad in mind, let us have a look at the best probable playing XI that can be fielded by the Knight Riders.
#1 Openers (Shubman Gill, Sunil Narine)
KKR is likely to go ahead with Shubman Gill and Sunil Narine as their opening combination. Gill, who had a decent IPL last year, would like to show his immense talent with some consistent performances in this year's edition. Having not made the best use of the limited opportunities he has got at the international level, this would be his best chance to make a case for himself in the Indian limited-overs squad.
Narine, although primarily a bowler, is capable of giving KKR a flying start with his unorthodox batting in the powerplay overs. Even though he has not been playing regularly and did not have a great IPL last year, he is likely to be persisted with at the opener's slot as it gives a better balance to the team.
In case he is unable to deliver at the top, the Kolkata-based team might have to look at Rahul Tripathi or Nikhil Naik to open the batting or they could even opt for the in-form Tom Banton (but that might impact the overall balance of the team).
#2 Middle-Order (Nitish Rana, Eoin Morgan, Dinesh Karthik, Rinku Singh)
Nitish Rana was one of the better performers for KKR last year and he would like to continue in the same vein this year as well. He will have to shoulder the responsibility of batting at one-down considering the middle-order options available for the Knight Riders.
Eoin Morgan will have to play a pivotal role for KKR in the middle-order. The England captain will have to play the dual role of being the stabilizing influence as well as providing the necessary acceleration based on the demands of the situation.
KKR would be hoping that Dinesh Karthik shakes off his indifferent form from last year and plays the finisher's role along with Andre Russell. Having lost his place in the Indian team to the young brigade of KL Rahul, Rishabh Pant, and Sanju Samson, Karthik would be keen on showcasing his abilities on the big stage and keep himself in the reckoning.
The last middle-order spot is likely to go to Rinku Singh considering his ability to go for the big shots down the order. If Rinku fails to fire, the Knight Riders can opt to play Tripathi or Siddhesh Lad in his place.
#3 All-rounder (Andre Russell)
With Narine likely to bat at the top of the order, Andre Russell will play the crucial all-rounder's role in the middle-order. As has been the case over the last couple of years, the fortunes of KKR will almost entirely depend on the performance of the Caribbean powerhouse.
Russell is likely to be used as a floater in the batting order and sent ahead whenever the team needs some quick runs. His good form both with the bat and the ball in the recent West Indies-Bangladesh series will hold him in good stead and KKR would be hoping that he retains his fitness through the entire duration of the IPL.
#4 Bowlers (Pat Cummins, Kuldeep Yadav, Prasidh Krishna, Sandeep Warrier)
Pat Cummins, the most expensive foreign player in the history of the IPL, would like to replicate his outstanding form with the Australian cricket team at this year's edition of the cash-rich league. He will be the go-to bowler for Karthik both in the powerplay and in the death overs. He can also be a handy lower-order batsman with the ability to contribute some quick runs.
Kuldeep Yadav has had a difficult last year both in the IPL as well as with the Indian cricket team. He will be looking forward to a good performance at this year's edition, which will go a long way in restoring his confidence (which he seems to be lacking off late). With the inexperienced Varun Chakravarthy and M Siddharth the only other Indian spinners in the squad, Kuldeep will have to rise to the occasion and deliver the goods for KKR.
Prasidh Krishna and Sandeep Warrier are expected to occupy the remaining two pace bowling spots. Prasidh, who did not have a great IPL last year, is considered by Virat Kohli as one of the promising Indian fast bowlers and he would like to remain in the good books of the Indian captain with a good performance at this year's edition. Sandeep had shown his potential in the limited opportunities he got last year and would like to put forward his case as a backup pace bowler in the Indian squad.
The Kolkata team has an almost like-for-like replacement for Cummins in the form of Lockie Ferguson if the need arises. The young Shivam Mavi and Kamlesh Nagarkoti will be the backup Indian pace bowlers, although they seem to be injury-prone and need to take extra care of their fitness.Published 21 Mar 2020, 13:21 IST