Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) have had their travails in the last couple of seasons in the Indian Premier League (IPL). After the departure of Gautam Gambhir, the Men in Gold and Purple haven’t had the best of times under Dinesh Karthik. The KKR started the IPL auction, with a purse of INR 35.65 crores, the second highest among the eight teams.
After the auction in Kolkata, KKR are left with 8.5 crore. The Knights started with splurging some heavy amounts on Eoin Morgan and Pat Cummins following which they took the backseat. The two-time IPL champions also picked some lesser-known, yet handy players to form their combination.
Overall, they took nine players. Now with some skilled players in the squad, KKR need to put on their thinking hat and ponder over their best eleven going into the tournament.
In the article, let’s take a look at the Predicted KKR XI for IPL 2020:-
Shubman Gill has been in the KKR ranks for a couple of seasons. Even as he started his IPL career in the lower middle-order, last season, he was given a chance to open the batting. Gill didn’t flatter to deceive and turned up with three half-centuries.
The 20-year-old youngster showed that he can put his head down in crisis and also play the expansive stokes to put the Knights on the driver’s seat. Since KKR has released Chris Lynn, the team shouldn’t have a second thought about persisting with Gill as the opener.
Since the last IPL, the Punjab-born has matured even more and Gautam Gambhir, the former KKR skipper, even went on to say that Gill can lead the franchise. In the T20 league, the right-hander has 499 runs in 27 matches at an average of 33.27 while striking at a decent 132.36.
Rahul Tripathi came to the spotlight after he notched 391 runs for the defunct Rising Pune Supergiant in the 2017 edition of the IPL. Back then, he batted at the top of the order. However, in the last two seasons for the Rajasthan Royals, he shuffled in the batting order and wasn’t a regular part of the eleven.
The Knights have the chance of making judicious utilization of Tripathi though. Sunil Narine has done well for KKR as an opener in the last few seasons, but the oppositions figured out his blind spots. Hence, Narine wasn’t that effective in the previous season.
In that case, the 28-year-old Tripathi can be an apt replacement at the top. The Knights shelled out 60 lakhs for the Maharashtra cricket and getting him to open alongside Shubman Gill may work wonders for them.
After shining for the Mumbai Indians (MI), Nitish Rana moved to the Knight Riders. The southpaw has done good enough for KKR to retain him for the upcoming season. Last time around, the Delhi batsman scored 344 runs at 34.40 with a strike-rate of 146.38.
In the last two seasons, the left-hander has mostly batted at number four or five. Next time, Rana may get a promotion in the order. KKR has let go stalwart Robin Uthappa, who mostly batted at three and Rana can now be entrusted in that position.
The 25-year-old has an experience of 96 T20s where he has 14 fifties, numbers which show his potential with the bat in hand. 119 sixes in the format also speak volumes about his ability to press the accelerator. Rana was also in pretty good form in the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy.
Eoin Morgan was the second buy in the day of the auction and KKR went bonkers to catch hold of the 2019 World Cup-winning captain. Delhi Capitals (DC) tried their hearts out but the Knights bagged him for 5.25 crores. KKR’s batting lacked a bit of firepower in the middle-order and Andre Russell seemed to be a bit over-burdened.
Morgan’s inclusion bolsters their batting without a doubt. Morgan shares a healthy camaraderie with KKR coach Brendon McCullum, and the latter was over the moon after bagging the England skipper. Both Baz and Morgan have played together in the IPL for the Knights.
However, Morgan’s last game in the T20 league came in 2017 when he plied his trade for the Sunrisers Hyderabad. He is likely to bat at four where he generally bats for the Three Lions.
On his day, Andre Russell can tear any bowling attack apart into shreds. Even his mis-timed strokes seem to land in the stands more often than not. Last season, he seemed to wage lone battles, and at times even emerging triumphant. For a chunk of the season, Russell had the task of keeping up with an asking around 15.
Batting mostly at six or even seven, he got 510 runs at an average of 56.66. The Jamaican plundered those runs at a strike-rate of 204.81 with 52 sixes to his name. By the time, KKR promoted their most prolific batter up the order, the team was on the verge of getting eliminated before the playoffs.
In the next season, KKR would be better if they don’t send Dre-Russell lower than number five. Russell will also get a chance to breathe with Morgan in the lineup.
Dinesh Karthik (C & WK)
Dinesh Karthik has been with the Knights for the last two seasons and his leadership qualities have come under the scanner. Though he took KKR to the Qualifier 2 in 2018, he couldn’t guide his team to the playoffs in the last season.
Karthik also had to face criticism for holding back the in-form Russell at stages when KKR needed someone to play the big shots with the asking rate going up. Even with the bat, Karthik wasn’t at his best last time, barring his 97* against Rajasthan Royals at the Eden Gardens in Kolkata.
To his dismay, KKR lost the match, defending 175. Despite his indifferent run as the skipper, he has been given another chance to make amends. Head coach McCullum said that Karthik will stay as the skipper. He can resort to Morgan’s inputs though in situations of crisis.
Chris Green may not be a colossal name in the cricket world. But there’s no doubt that he is one of the most effective spinners doing the rounds in franchise T20 cricket. In 77 T20s, Green has 64 wickets at a miserly economy rate of 6.68. Of late, the Durban-born has also mastered the art of bowling in the powerplay.
Green isn’t a big turner of the ball, but can keep a check on the runs. Albeit it’s a tough call, leaving Narine out for Green may not be the worst of choices by any means. Narine’s effectiveness with the ball has gone down in the last couple of seasons.
Green can also wield the willow to good effect lower down the order, having scored 501 runs, striking at 129.12 with a highest score of 49. On the contrary, Narine’s productiveness with the bat is mostly at the top of the order.
Pat Cummins went on to hog most of the limelight in the IPL auction. Delhi Capitals (DC) and Royal Challengers (RCB) were involved in an intense bidding war after which the Knights jumped in. KKR put their first bid of INR 15 crore and then roped the Australian speedster in at INR 15.50.
He became the second highest grosser in the history of the IPL auction after Yuvraj Singh’s 16 crore. Cummins has earlier played for KKR, a team for whom he made his IPL debut in 2014 before moving to the Delhi Daredevils, now Capitals. Mumbai Indians bought him in 2018, but an injury ruled him out.
In 16 IPL games, Cummins only has 17 wickets, but his form for the Aussies made him a hot pick in the auction. With Pat in the side, Lockie Ferguson and Harry Gurney may not get a lot of chances.
Kuldeep Yadav has played for the Knights for the last four seasons and has turned out to be a crucial member. But last season, he was completely off his radar after which he was dropped for the last few matches. In nine matches, the Chinaman could only manage four wickets.
In one of the games at the Eden Gardens, Kuldeep went on his knees after Moeen Ali scored 27 runs off one of his overs. The Knights have backed him, retaining him for the next season. Of late, the 25-year-old became the first Indian with two hat-tricks at the highest level.
The Kanpur-born accomplished the feat in the second ODI against the West Indies in Vizag. He is also being seen as one of India’s key elements for the T20 World Cup. Prior to the tournament, Yadav will be looking for a good outing in the IPL.
Sandeep Warrier remained unsold in the 2019 edition of the IPL. However, the rub of the green went in his favour after Kamlesh Nagarkoti and Shivam Mavi were ruled out of the tournament due to injuries. It also was the season when the speedster made his debut in the cash-rich league.
The 28-year-old had got his first chance against the Mumbai Indians (MI) at the Eden Gardens in Kolkata. In the end, he played three matches where he got a couple of wickets. Warrier ended with an economy rate of 7.08, the best among all the KKR bowlers last season.
It won’t spring a surprise if he gets into the playing eleven right from the outset. Warrier has played in all forms of cricket for Kerala in domestic cricket and has delivered. Sandeep will now be aiming to cement his spot in the KKR setup.
Prasidh Krishna was another player, who came into the KKR lineup as an injury replacement. The Karnataka pacer bowled with venom and ruffled a few feathers in 2018, his maiden IPL season. There he finished with 10 wickets from seven matches.
Unfortunately, he couldn’t carry on with his rhythm in the previous edition. Krishna strained hard for 11 matches and could only manage four wickets. Among the KKR bowlers, he had the worst bowling average and strike-rate of 94.25 and 60.5 respectively.
Nevertheless, his recent form has been decent enough. In eight matches in the Vijay Hazare Trophy, Prasidh picked up 17 wickets with a five-wicket haul against Saurashtra in Bengaluru. Krishna has been retained for the next edition of the IPL and it’s a chance for him to make amends.
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