The Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) have had some fearsome opening combinations over the years in the Indian Premier League (IPL).
Chris Lynn and Sunil Narine hold the record for the highest powerplay score in IPL history, a feat that they achieved by smashing the Royal Challengers Bangalore bowlers for 105 runs back in 2017.
The likes of Brendon McCullum and Chris Gayle have also opened the batting for the 2-time IPL champions, while the Gautam Gambhir-Robin Uthappa partnership is one of the most successful in the history of the league.
But of late, consistency at the top of the order has deserted KKR, and this is an issue they'll want to address in IPL 2021.
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
Among the above squad, Shubman Gill, Nitish Rana, Rahul Tripathi, Sunil Narine, Tim Seifert and Karun Nair are capable of opening the batting in T20 cricket.
In this article, we predict KKR's opening combination for IPL 2021.
What did KKR do in IPL 2020?
KKR were all over the place with their opening combinations in IPL 2020, and young Shubman Gill was the only constant at the top of the order.
The first four games saw Sunil Narine partner Gill, and the West Indian only managed scores of 9, 0, 15 and 3 to be moved down the order.
Rahul Tripathi was the next man to open, and he made an impression in his first game as opener by scoring a stylish 81 against the Chennai Super Kings. He registered only 4 in the next game, and the inclusion of Tom Banton in the playing XI meant that he was moved back down to No. 7.
The Banton experiment lasted only one game as the other frontline overseas players were fit to be in the XI, and Tripathi managed scores of 7, 23 and 1 in his next three games.
Frustrated with his lack of consistency and perhaps with an eye on a left-right combination, KKR promoted No. 3 Nitish Rana to an opening slot. The Delhi-born batsman had contrasting fortunes as an opener, with scores of 81 and 87 punctuated by two ducks.
Shubman Gill and Rahul Tripathi likely to open the batting for KKR in IPL 2021
Although Rana was promising in two of the four innings he played as an opener, KKR don't have batsmen suited to the lower-middle order. Playing Tripathi at No. 7 like they did last year would be an abominable waste, and the best course of action would be to use him at the top alongside Gill.
Narine played a couple of eye-catching knocks last year while being used as a floater in the middle order, and that might be the role that gets the best out of him. With Dinesh Karthik in the side and the four overseas slots all but fixed, Tim Seifert doesn't really have a case to be picked in the XI. Karun Nair is in dreadful form at the moment, and stands next to no chance of playing at any position for KKR in IPL 2021.
Rana at 3 and captain Eoin Morgan at 4 lends great weight to the batting lineup, followed by the likes of Dinesh Karthik and Andre Russell. As a result, Rahul Tripathi and Shubman Gill are expected to open the batting for KKR in IPL 2021.