Former Indian opener Aakash Chopra has opined that the Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) spinners will be a happier lot now that they will be playing in the friendly UAE pitches rather than at the Eden Gardens in IPL 2020.
He made this observation while doing a SWOT analysis of the KKR squad for the upcoming IPL in a video shared on his YouTube channel.
While talking about KKR's strengths, Aakash Chopra highlighted the number of quality match-winners in their squad while naming Sunil Narine, Andre Russell, Eoin Morgan, Pat Cummins and Dinesh Karthik.
"This team has very solid match-winners. The team which has Sunil Narine, Andre Russell, Eoin Morgan, Pat Cummins and Dinesh Karthik, you have to admit that they have match-winners."
The former KKR player observed that an even stronger aspect of the franchise is their ability to close the innings, and called them one of the best finishing units in IPL 2020.
"But the even stronger side is their finishing abilities. Because if they have a proper batting order, imagine at No.4 is Karthik, No.5 is Morgan and No.6 is Russell, they will demolish the opposition. They have one of the best finishing units in the IPL."
Aakash Chopra pointed out the presence of two world-class spinners in Sunil Narine and Kuldeep Yadav in the KKR lineup as another strong area. He added that the franchise is likely to perform well in the upcoming IPL considering the strengths they possess.
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"They have got two very good spinners, making it an 8-over bank. They have Sunil Narine and Kuldeep Yadav. So there are lots of strengths that are pointing towards a good KKR season in IPL 2020."
Aakash Chopra on Sunil Narine's value to the KKR outfit
Aakash Chopra picked Sunil Narine as KKR's Tournament Protector, who is a player likely to be a consistent performer for the franchise. He acknowledged that the mystery spinner has an injury concern which may not allow him to play all the matches.
"As a Tournament Protector we go for a player who will play all the matches. Here I am not certain if he will play all the matches because there have been injury issues in the recent past."
The reputed commentator opined that Sunil Narine is likely to be a potent weapon for KKR in the UAE conditions that are likely to assist the spinners as the tournament progresses. He added that the West Indian will also be as dangerous as ever at the top of the order as a batsman.
"But considering that the matches will be played in only three grounds in the UAE where the ball is going to turn more as the tournament progresses, then this player becomes even more effective. And he will be opening as well, considering his CPL form."
Aakash Chopra reckoned that Sunil Narine is likely to give more match-changing rather than match-winning performances, with the Trinidadian performing a more restrictive role as a bowler in the middle overs these days.
"I believe he will perform a role which may not be runaway match-winning performances repeatedly because he doesn't bowl much in the Powerplay or death overs these days. He keeps a stranglehold on the batsmen in the middle overs. So there he may not be able to give match-winning performances but match-changing performances."
The 42-year-old also observed that the KKR spinners would be delighted that they would not be plying their trade at the Eden Gardens.
"The spinners of KKR are going to very happy because they will be moving away from Eden Gardens and playing on pitches that will assist spin."
Aakash Chopra signed off by stating that Sunil Narine can make some match-defining contributions with the bat as well, with the KKR team likely to be very happy if he can come up with his pyrotechnics in four to five matches.
"The second thing is his batting. It is a little hit and miss but he is required to play only 4-5 blazing knocks, which will give you a great headstart and he can do that very well."
Sunil Narine was in decent all-round form in the recently concluded CPL although he could play just five matches due to injuries. In these matches, he scored 144 runs at a strike of 148.45, and scalped 6 wickets while conceding an average of just 4.55 runs per over.