IPL 2021: Strong overseas contingent, the focus as we look at the predicted playing 11 of Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR).
The Kolkata Knight Riders had a rather surprising outing in IPL 2020. The team changed their captain mid-way with Eoin Morgan taking the helm from Dinesh Karthik, the batting-order looked inconsistent, and key players like Russell, Narine, Kuldeep, Karthik, etc., were out of form. As a result, KKR failed to qualify for the Play-offs, and finished just below RCB at 5th position.
Coming to the 2021 edition, KKR would start under the leadership of Eoin Morgan, who also captains the limited-overs England cricket team. The team bought some really exciting names in the Auction including the likes of Shakib Al Hasan, Karun Nair, Ben Cutting, and Harbhajan Singh among experienced foes.
While KKR’s main strength is their overseas players, the inclusion of Shakib Al Hasan, Ben Cutting, and Harbhajan Singh does change a few things when it comes to trying out fresh combinations for IPL 2021. So, in this article, we will look at the strongest predicted playing 11 for KKR for IPL 2021. Before that, let’s quickly skim through the entire squad for KKR.
Kolkata Knight Riders’ Squad for IPL 2021:
Batsmen: Dinesh Karthik (WK), Eoin Morgan (C), Karun Nair, Nitish Rana, Rahul Tripathi, Rinku Singh, Sheldon Jackson, Shubman Gill & Tim Seifert.
All-rounders: Andre Russell, Ben Cutting, Pawan Negi, Shakib Al Hasan, Sunil Narine & Venkatesh Iyer.
Bowlers: Harbhajan Singh, Kamlesh Nagarkoti, Kuldeep Yadav, Lockie Ferguson, Pat Cummins, Prasidh Krishna, Sandeep Warrier, Shivam Mavi, Vaibhav Arora & Varun Chakravarthy.
The Solid Core
KKR’s core revolves predominantly around overseas players. The team is definitely going to play Andre Russell and Pat Cummins alongside captain, Eoin Morgan as the three first-choice overseas players. Meanwhile, Sunil Narine, who was a key player for KKR until IPL 2019 is no more a sure shot contender in the playing 11. His performance has taken a dip in the last few years since remodelling his action, and his bowling seems ineffective.
Apart from these three overseas players, the rising star, Shubman Gill and Nitish Rana are also sure to play a key role at the top. It would be interesting to see where Rana plays as he played a few important knocks as an opener. Former KKR Captain, Dinesh Karthik should assume the role of a finisher in the squad, and the 2020 superstar, Varun Chakravarthy should lead the spin duties of the squad.
So, that’s how the core of Kolkata Knight Riders is built for IPL 2021. We have Shubman Gill and Nitish Rana at the top, Eoin Morgan, Andre Russell and Dinesh Karthik in the middle-order, and Pat Cummins & Varun Chakravarthy in the bowling department.
Strongest Predicted Playing XI for KKR:
Talking about the strongest playing 11 for KKR, the team needs to focus on 4 spots to complete the strongest 11. Rahul Tripathi, who was good in his limited time in IPL 2020, should assume the opener duties alongside Shubman Gill. That means Rana should be back to his original position of number 3.
Sunil Narine should play as the floater of the squad. However, this is not completely needed as KKR have firepower in the middle-order and the lower-order. Narine can also play as the attacking opener, but his problem for short deliveries is well known. Off late, teams have realized his short ball weakness, and thus are dominating him more on that front.
In the bowling department, Varun Chakravarthy and Pat Cummins would lead the attack. Ideally, Prasidh Krishna and Kuldeep Yadav should fulfil the rest two positions. However, given Russell’s bowling issues off late, Shivam Mavi seems an ideal replacement for Kuldeep Yadav as an extra pacer.
Strongest Predicted 11 for Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) for IPL 2021:
Shubman Gill, Rahul Tripathi, Nitish Rana, Eoin Morgan (C), Andre Russell, Dinesh Karthik (WK), Sunil Narine, Pat Cummins, Shivam Mavi, Varun Chakravarthy & Prasidh Krishna.
Option 1: Shakib Al Hasan for Sunil Narine
Kolkata Knight Riders did a brilliant job in the Auction by acquiring the services of Shakib Al Hasan. He can be drafted in the playing 11 for Narine, who hasn’t been much effective. This gives the team 6 solid batting option at the top, and 7 bowling options. They can also play Karun Nair or Rahul Tripathi in the lower-order with this substitute.
Shubman Gill, Nitish Rana, Eoin Morgan (C), Andre Russell, Shakib Al Hasan, Dinesh Karthik (WK), Kamlesh Nagarkoti / Karun Nair, Pat Cummins, Shivam Mavi, Varun Chakravarthy & Prasidh Krishna.
Option 2: Pace-friendly Wickets
Kolkata’s pitches are generally known for pacey wickets. While it is not sure whether Kolkata would be one of the destinations for IPL 2021, still having a team designed for pacey wickets is a good option to have. So, looking at the team, for pacey wickets, Team can look to play Lockie and Cummins together.
If that’s the case, Narine may miss out, and one of Mavi or Prasidh too would sit out. The team can instead strengthen the batting by bringing in Karun Nair in the lower-order. So, here’s how the KKR playing 11 looks like for pace-friendly wickets.
Shubman Gill, Rahul Tripathi, Nitish Rana, Eoin Morgan (C), Dinesh Karthik (WK), Andre Russell, Pat Cummins, Lockie Ferguson, Shivam Mavi / Prasidh Krishna / Karun Nair & Varun Chakravarthy.
Option 3: Spin friendly-wickets
The kind of hiring Kolkata did in the Auction, the team seems potent for spin-friendly pitches as well. With Kuldeep, Chakravarthy, and Narine already there, KKR also bought Shakib and Harbhajan to strengthen the spin department. So, if the pitch favours spin more, KKR can look to play Narine, Chakravarthy, and Kuldeep / Bhajji together.
Shubman Gill, Rahul Tripathi, Nitish Rana, Eoin Morgan (C), Dinesh Karthik (WK), Andre Russell, Sunil Narine, Pat Cummins, Kuldeep / Bhajji, Varun Chakravarthy & Prasidh / Mavi.
Overall, looking at the KKR squad, Kolkata seem to have a very good all-round squad. Ignoring the experience of the Indian players, for the time being, if they keep their calm, and perform well, the team will definitely make good inroads in IPL 2021.
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