The 14th edition of the Indian Premier League has just got started. However, high-profile teams like Kolkata Knight Riders and Sunrisers Hyderabad are yet to start their campaign. Both the teams are in Chennai and will play their first match of the season against each other. The two teams have shared some intense clashes previously. Last season as well, the two teams played out two really good games of cricket.
Sunrisers Hyderabad has qualified for playoffs in each of their seasons since 2016. On the other hand, KKR has finished fifth in the league stages twice now and on both occasions, it was SRH who had the advantage of qualifying to the next stage. As Kolkata opens their 2021 season, they are expected to come to all guns blazing and start their campaign with a win. Here is a look at the playing combination for the first match:
Predicted Playing XI of KKR – Match 3
Openers- (Rahul Tripathi and Shubman Gill)
Shubman Gill has been in terrific form with the bat lately. Since the previous season of the IPL, the 21-year-old has gone from strength to strength, making his Test debut for India. He also played an important role in helping India win the historic Test series in Australia. These performances will give the Punjab batter confidence, much needed ahead of the big IPL season.
Rahul Tripathi seems like a good option to partner Gill at the top of the order. The two have different styles of batting, which could complement each other well, something that was seen in the 2020 season. Tripathi likes to take the attack to the opposition while Gill likes to play the role of an anchor. A lot will rely upon these two players if KKR hopes to get off to a winning start.
Middle Order- (Nitish Rana, Dinesh Karthik (wk), Eoin Morgan(c))
The middle order of the Knight Riders is packed with power-hitters who can play a destructive inning at any point to turn the tide of the match in their favor. Captain Eoin Morgan might be coming into this season on the back of some indifferent form with the bat, but he had scored more than 400 runs last season with an average of 41.80 and a strike rate of 138.41.
Nitish Rana recently returned to the KKR camp after recovering from COVID-19. His form will be crucial for Kolkata’s cause. Last year, he scored some good scores of fifty-plus and also some single digits scores. He would look to convert his good performance from last season to terrific this year.
Then there is DK. The Tamil Nadu man didn’t have the best of seasons last time around. His ability to bat in the death and score quick runs makes him a wonderful prospect for the KKR team. He is a senior member of the franchise and a lot of responsibility will rest on his shoulders.
All-rounders (Shakib Al Hasan, Andre Russell)
When it comes to the all-rounders, KKR has added arguably the best in the business to their squad. Shakib Al Hasan, who had played for KKR between 2011 and 2017, will return to the franchise. His return implies that Sunil Narine, who has been one of the most recognizable players of KKR, might have to spend more time on the benches.
Other than Shakib, KKR has the services of Andre Russell. The West Indian would be desperate to make an impact on this season of the cash-rich league. He had not been at his best for KKR last season. His ability to contribute with the ball also makes him a good option to bowl in the death overs, something which will be a major concern for Morgan.
Bowlers (Pat Cummins, Kamlesh Nagarkoti, Prasidh Krishna, Varun Chakravarthy)
There was a lot of talk behind Pat Cummins’ price tag ahead of the IPL 2020. He justified his price towards the latter half of that season. This year, he would have to take some responsibility for finishing the matches with the ball in the death overs if required. His responsibility will also include leading young bowlers like Kamlesh Nagarkoti and Prasidh Krishna.
Krishna would be high on confidence having made his international debut recently for India. He performed quite well on his debut picking up four wickets against England. Those performances should help him bounce back in the IPL after having an average season last time around.
Talking about last season, Varun Chakravarthy is someone who would be hoping to continue his form from that season. He picked up 17 wickets in 13 matches during the 2020 edition and should be looking to make a mark when he takes the ball in the IPL 2021. He also has a great opportunity to improve his fitness and once again be in the conention of the Indian T20I squad.
Source: The source of this content is our cricket news platform Crictracker.
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