The power-packed two-time champions will look to cross the winning line for the first time since 2014. But can they? Here’s your Kolkata Knight Riders team preview.
Kolkata Knight Riders have been one of the primary entertainers at the Indian Premier League with their fearless brand of cricket over the years. They have pulled off dramatic wins from virtually impossible situations in the last few seasons, but have failed to deliver the goods when it has mattered the most. They made it to the play-offs on three of the five occasions since their last triumph in 2014. In the other two seasons, in 2015 and most recently in 2019, they kept themselves in contention right until the end of the league stage, but lost in the virtual knockouts to end up in fifth position.
Of all the teams, the Knight Riders probably made the most buzz at the 2020 auctions, picking up Pat Cummins for a whopping INR 15.5 crore, thereby making him the most expensive overseas buy in IPL history, while also roping in England’s World Cup-winning captain Eoin Morgan. They have some exciting young talents in the mix, both Indian and overseas. Whether they can stand up to the pressure on a consistent basis remains to be seen.
IPL 2020 Kolkata Knight Riders team preview
Despite all the buzz of Morgan taking over the reins, Kolkata have retained Karthik as their captain for the 2020 season. The inclusion of Morgan, however, does give a significant boost to the leadership core, which also includes their new head coach, Brendon McCullum, who is revered as one of his country’s finest captains.
KKR’s campaign last season was defined by Andre Russell‘s brutal hitting, as the Jamaican all-rounder almost single-handedly carried them through. The experienced men – skipper Dinesh Karthik, Robin Uthappa and Chris Lynn – couldn’t quite stand up to the expectations, and that did little to help the team’s cause.
While they released Lynn and Uthappa ahead of the 2020 edition, they do have the promising young talents in Tom Banton and Shubman Gill, who have proven themselves as match-winners in their short career so far. While Gill was named as the Emerging Player of the Year in 2019, aggregating 296 runs at 32.88, Banton succeeded in making a reputation for himself in his maiden Big Bash League season. The England opener could be an ideal replacement for Lynn at the top, more so considering the batting-friendly conditions at the Eden Gardens.
The middle order would likely consist of Morgan, Karthik and Nitish Rana, with Russell designated to do what he does best.
The fast-bowling department looks a formidable one, boasting Cummins’ experience, Lockie Ferguson‘s raw pace and Harry Gurney‘s death-bowling expertise, in addition to the young and promising Indian talents in Shivam Mavi, Prasidh Krishna and Kamlesh Nagarkoti. The spin front looks good, too, with Sunil Narine and Kuldeep Yadav leading the way. Chris Green, the spin-bowling all-rounder has been banned from bowling for three months, but KKR do have Varun Chakravarthy, whose exploits at domestic level earned him an INR 4 crore deal at the auction.
To round it off, Karthik has more options this time around, than he did in the previous two seasons. The task of settling on the best XI won’t be easy by any means, especially considering the quality and experience of the overseas internationals at his disposal.
Kolkata Knight Riders squad list for IPL 2020
Dinesh Karthik (captain), Andre Russell, Harry Gurney, Kamlesh Nagarkoti, Kuldeep Yadav, Lockie Ferguson, Nitish Rana, Prasidh Krishna, Rinku Singh, Sandeep Warrier, Shivam Mavi, Shubman Gill, Siddhesh Lad, Sunil Narine, Chris Green, Eoin Morgan, M Siddharth, Nikhil Naik, Pat Cummins, Rahul Tripathi, Tom Banton, Varun Chakravarthy.
Andre Russell: Russell is the only player in IPL history to win the Most Valuable Player award even when his team failed to make it to the play-offs, that too on two occasions. Apart from his strong power-hitting, he’s been a valuable asset with the ball, taking responsibility up front and at the death. He remains KKR’s premier match-winner, and that he has already shown sparks of brilliance on his international comeback in Sri Lanka, presents ominous signs for the rest of the teams in the competition.
Shubman Gill: Gill has been impressive in his short IPL career so far, despite being reshuffled in the batting order more than once. His returns at the top in the second half of the 2019 season could help him retain his preferred batting spot yet, and his steady approach could work perfectly fine alongside the power-hitting of Narine and Banton. He hasn’t been able to break into India’s XI since his international debut last year, and that might just be an additional motivation for the youngster ahead of the coming season.
IPL 2020 Betting odds
Qualifer: KKR look a solid outfit, with almost all their departments covered ahead of the 13th edition of the tournament. They know a thing or two about winning the IPL and look good to make it to the top four this time around. Their unpredictable nature over the last few seasons, though, leaves room for uncertainty thereafter.