Irfan Pathan believes the Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) have surprised everyone by making it to the IPL 2021 playoffs.
KKR seemed to be down and out after the first half of IPL 2021 in India. The Eoin Morgan-led side had won just two of their first seven encounters and were placed in the penultimate position in the points table before the UAE leg of the tournament.
During a discussion on Star Sports, Irfan Pathan was asked about KKR's stunning comeback after their indifferent run in India. He responded:
"It was not good at all and it never seemed that they will make it to the top four. But it is praiseworthy how they have performed in the UAE. A couple of things are still missing and they have done it despite that."
While acknowledging that KKR still have a few problem areas to address, the former India all-rounder added that Dinesh Karthik and Morgan's decent hit in the middle should hold them in good stead ahead of the playoffs. Pathan said:
"A small positive that we saw in the last match, Dinesh Karthik's slight form, his unbeaten knock and Morgan hit a six. So this will give them the confidence and it will be useful in the playoffs."
Apart from Morgan and Karthik's lack of runs, KKR will also be concerned about Andre Russell's fitness. Although Bangladeshi all-rounder Shakib Al Hasan has given a decent account of himself, the two-time IPL champions will hope that the big-hitting Jamaican is fit for the playoffs.
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"The young Indian players have scripted KKR's comeback" - Aakash Chopra
Aakash Chopra was also asked about KKR's turnaround being triggered by Shubman Gill playing a more dominating role as an opener. The former Indian batter replied:
"You have taken Shubman Gill's name, it's great, it's not only him but all the young Indian players have scripted KKR's comeback. It is one of the most fascinating turnarounds."
Chopra signed off by highlighting that the Indian players' performances have helped KKR overcome captain Morgan's lack of runs. He elaborated:
"There is Shubman, Iyer, Nitish, Varun and Rahul Tripathi. All of them together have taken the team forward. Morgan hasn't scored runs and despite that, you didn't miss his absence. I mean hats off to the Indians in the Indian Premier League, they are shining."
Gill, Venkatesh Iyer, Rahul Tripathi and Nitish Rana have been the principal contributors with the bat for KKR in the UAE leg of IPL 2021. The franchise will hope that the youngsters continue in the same vein and help them win their third IPL title.
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