Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) have had mixed fortunes in the history of the Indian Premier League (IPL). They managed to reach the playoffs in the fourth edition of the IPL i.e. in 2011.
They won the coveted IPL trophy in 2012 and thereafter won their second title in the year 2014.
Post 2014, they made it to the playoffs in the years 2016, 2017, and 2018, but could not progress further.
The years 2019 and 2020 were not very successful for the KKR outfit as they ended up in fifth position in the points table.
The IPL 2021 actions witnessed a few acquisitions by KKR. The notable acquisitions include experienced off-spinner Harbhajan Singh, the reliable Shakib Al Hasan, and the talented Ben Cutting amongst a few others.
The squad seems to be well-balanced, with experienced internationals and young and dynamic Indian players.
On that note, here is a look at why KKR could be a force to reckon with in IPL 2021:
#1. Kolkata Knight Riders have an experienced leader in the IPL:
Eoin Morgan took over the captaincy from Dinesh Karthik midway through the IPL 2020 season. The management have decided to retain Morgan as their full-time skipper for the upcoming IPL season.
Morgan is an experienced cricketer having spent around 15 years in international cricket. He has been the captain of the England T20 international team since 2012. Under his captaincy, England at present are the number one ranked T20 international team. The England ODI team under his captaincy won the 2019 World Cup.
Morgan brings out the best in his players and backs them to play their natural game. Apart from his captaincy, he is a dangerous middle-order batsman and a good finisher. He has a strike rate of 126.32 in 59 IPL innings with 5 half-centuries.
KKR will be hopeful that Morgan leads them to glory in the IPL 2021 edition.
#2. The presence of dynamic all-rounders in the team:
All-rounders are of utmost importance in all forms of cricket and especially in T20 cricket. KKR is blessed to have the best all-rounders in their squad.
Andre Russell is probably the biggest asset for KKR. The West Indian all-rounder has an astounding strike rate of 182.33 in 61 IPL innings. He is a clean striker of cricket balls and can change the course of a T20 game in an over or two. He has won games for KKR from improbable positions in the past with the bat. He is an effective bowler too and has picked up 61 IPL wickets at an average of 28.08. He is a safe fielder too. All in all, Russell is a utility player and a match-winner of his day.
Sunil Narine has tasted success as an opener for KKR in the past. While opening the batting, he has an explosive strike rate of 176.59 in 37 IPL innings. He takes full advantage of the power-play overs and has often got KKR off to brisk starts as an opener. With the ball, he is equally effective and has 127 IPL wickets to his credit at a miserly economy rate of 6.78 and an average of 24.78. KKR will be hopeful that Narine has had a fruitful season with both bat and ball in the IPL 2021 edition.
KKR smartly acquired Shakib Al Hasan in the IPL 2021 auction. Shakib is an effective player who can provide finishing touches to the innings with the bat. He is an extremely useful bowler too, especially in the middle-overs when he performs the dual role of controlling the flow of runs as well as picking up regular wickets. He has a strike rate of 126.66 with the bat in 46 IPL innings. He has picked up 59 IPL wickets at an average of 28. It will be difficult for KKR to bench a cricketer of the caliber of Shakib in the IPL.
#3. A balanced pool of experienced as well as young Indian players:
KKR has a perfect blend of experienced as well as young Indian talent.
Dinesh Karthik has played all 13 seasons of the IPL since its inception. The wicket-keeper batsman has 3823 runs to his credit. He has a decent strike rate of 129.64 in 177 IPL innings and has scored 19 half-centuries. In the case of early loss of wickets, he can stabilize the innings and provide finishing touches in the death overs. His experience will be handy for KKR in IPL 2021.
Harbhajan Singh has been added to the KKR squad for the IPL 2021 season. He can play the role of the perfect mentor for the likes of Kuldeep Yadav and Varun Chakravarthy. With the ball, Harbhajan had a decent 2019 IPL season. He picked up 16 wickets at an average of 19.50 in the said season. Overall, he has picked up 150 IPL wickets in 160 matches. He will definitely play a key role for KKR in IPL 2021.
The team also boasts young Indian cricketers who have played well in the past in IPL cricket. Shubman Gill averages 33.54 and has a strike rate of 125.2 in 38 IPL innings. He usually opens the batting for KKR and has tasted success at the top of the order. He will look to score big runs for KKR in the IPL 2021 and make a case for his selection in the Indian T20 international squad.
Nitesh Rana too has tasted success for KKR in the past. He has a strike rate of 135.57 in 55 IPL innings with 11 half-centuries. He has tasted success at the number 3 position and will look to replicate his performances in the IPL 2021 edition.
Prasidh Krishna, Kamlesh Nagarkoti and Shivam Mavi are young pacers who have bowled impressively in the past in the IPL. The trio will look to create an impression as and when they get a chance to play for KKR. They will be under the guidance of the experienced Pat Cummins, who will spearhead the KKR pace attack in IPL 2021.