After a lot of doubt and uncertainty, the IPL is finally underway. With most teams having played at least one match so far, the Kolkata Knight Riders are the only side yet to play their first match. That is set to change tonight, as they take on defending champions, Mumbai Indians, in what promises to be a high-profile encounter.
After losing their season opener against MS Dhoni's Chennai Super Kings, the Mumbai Indians will be looking to get the ball rolling with a win tonight. The Knight Riders, on the other hand, look more exciting as a unit than ever before. Be it Indian or overseas players, the team is filled with superstars of the game.
The only problem for KKR, however, would be the problem of plenty in terms of their overseas players. Having done some fantastic work in the IPL auction, the Dinesh Karthik-led squad finds themselves having retained game-changers like Andre Russell, Lockie Ferguson and Sunil Narine. At the same time, they have also availed the services of exciting prospects such as Tom Banton, Pat Cummins and World Cup-winning English captain, Eoin Morgan. While some of these names are sure-starters given their performances for the team over the years, we will definitely be seeing some new faces (and reuniting with old ones) in the KKR outfit.
Here, we explore the best possible combination of overseas players for the Kolkata franchise, ahead of their clash against the most successful team in the IPL.
1. Andre Russell
Unless Andre Russell (God forbid) cops an injury while training today, it is all but set in stone that the elite T20 all-rounder will feature in tonight's clash. With the ability to change the game and snatch victory from the jaws of defeat, Russell is an asset to any T20 side in the world.
Lest we forget his performances in the last two years for the Knight Riders, the 32-year-old has made his value known to his team.
Having a whopping strike rate of 186.42 with most of his runs coming in the death overs, the big Jamaican packs a punch in the middle-order to say the least. He also chips in with the ball in hand and has managed to get 51 wickets in the 64 games he has featured in so far.
A lot of eyes will be on Dre Russ tonight, and he will be hoping to pick up right from where he left off in 2019.
2. Sunil Narine
Ever since the Knight Riders picked him as a mystery bowler in 2012, Sunil Narine has done nothing but impress.
Initially, batsmen danced to his tunes, not knowing which way the ball would turn. Then with some brilliance from Gautam Gambhir, Narine also proved to be an asset with the bat as he would open the innings and play the role of a pinch-hitter. To reiterate the impact that his batting can have at the top of the order, let's remind ourselves of the fact that Narine holds the record for the joint second-fastest half-century in the IPL, which came off just 15 balls.
Coming now specifically to this IPL, we've seen how pitches in the UAE tend to favour the spinners. So a Narine-Kuldeep partnership is definitely on the cards for KKR.
If we're looking for reasons to include Narine in the XI for tonight's match, it's safe to say that there are plenty.
3. Pat Cummins
Having made his IPL debut for KKR in 2014, Pat Cummins has reunited with his first IPL team, for the 2020 season. The speedster returns to the Knight Riders squad as a workhorse with a reputation for his impeccable fitness and consistency; all of which make him a dangerous force in the KKR outfit.
While Cummins hasn't had great IPL seasons so far, he can't be written off by any means. If his performances for Australia across all formats are any indication to go by, the 27-year-old is bound to have a terrific season.
Cummins, as of now, only has 16 IPL matches to his name but that seems likely to change this year as he would be KKR's bowling spearhead. The Australian has taken 17 wickets in the 16 matches he has played so far, with a decent economy rate of 8.29.
Check the latest IPL prediction here.
4. Eoin Morgan
Last, but certainly not the least, we have captain Morgan. In the previous two years, not only has he been the captain of a World Cup-winning squad, but also has numerous great performances with the bat to his name.
The explosive southpaw is also known for playing smart cricket, eventually raking up a lot of runs in the death overs. Moreover, the prospect of him partnering with Andre Russell to finish the innings is exciting to any cricket fan, let alone KKR supporters.
The value of Morgan doesn't end there by any means, as he would undoubtedly be a huge asset in the team's strategy meetings. Just imagine the confidence it would give Dinesh Karthik, a relatively new captain, to receive assistance from a man of Morgan's calibre.
With KKR having ticked off virtually all the boxes needed for a successful campaign, it will be exciting to see their progress as the tournament goes by.Published 23 Sep 2020, 15:32 IST