The Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) weren't one of the better teams in last year's Indian Premier League (IPL). They narrowly missed out on the playoffs, and even underwent a captaincy change midway through the season.
In the IPL 2021 auction, KKR snapped up experienced Indian cricketers Pawan Negi, Harbhajan Singh, Sheldon Jackson and Karun Nair. They also pulled off the steal of the auction by signing Bangladesh all-rounder Shakib Al Hasan for just INR 3.2 crores.
Ben Cutting made his way to the team presumably as a backup for the injury-prone Andre Russell, while Vaibhav Arora joined the plethora of young Indian pacers already at the franchise. 26-year-old all-rounder Venkatesh Iyer was also picked by KKR in the IPL 2021 auction.
KKR's predicted playing XI for IPL 2021
This year's IPL is still months away, but we attempt to predict what KKR's ideal playing XI will look like.
KKR's squad for IPL 2021: 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 Chakravarthy, Andre Russell, Sunil Narine, Tim Seifert, Shakib Al Hasan, Sheldon Jackson, Vaibhav Arora, Karun Nair, Harbhajan Singh, Ben Cutting, Venkatesh Iyer, Pawan Negi
Openers: Shubman Gill, Rahul Tripathi
Shubman Gill is definitely going to be one half of the KKR opening combination in IPL 2021. The youngster scored 440 runs last season despite never having a settled partner, and is now an Indian team regular as well.
KKR opened with Nitish Rana, Rahul Tripathi and Sunil Narine at different stages of IPL 2020, and none of the three truly made the spot their own. This year, if Rana opens, Karun Nair could be the one to slot in at No. 3.
But Nair is woefully out of form and KKR might be better off using Rana at the No. 3 role, leaving Tripathi to open the innings alongside Gill. The Maharashtra-born opener had his moments last season, including a superb 81 against the Chennai Super Kings in his first game at the top of the order. He will look to be more consistent this time around.