IPL 2020: Kolkata Knight Riders will be looking for their third Indian Premier League title when they kick off their campaign against defending champions Mumbai Indians on September 9. The Kolkata-side will be banking on their explosive batting to hide their bowling Achilles heel. The lack of experienced bowler can become a nightmare for Brendon McCullum (coach) and Dinesh Karthik (captain) especially against sides like Mumbai Indians and Chennai Super Kings who have good chasing batsmen. The team finish fifth in 2019, tied on12 points with fourth-places Sunrisers Hyderabad and sixth-placed Kings XI Punjab.
Strength: Explosive batting
With Andre Russell, Eoin Morgan and Tom Banton, KKR are one of the most explosive batting sides in this year’s IPL. Put Sunil Narine to the mix, and you get a Rohit Shetty style ending to the blockbuster top order. So many top-order options is a good thing for them. The only problem is Narine’s role which seems a bit blurry, especially after team mentor David Hussey said that the opening pair is still undecided.
Moreover, the thing Shah Rukh Khan-co owned team would miss the most is Robin Uthappa’s anchoring prowess. Yes, Morgan has donned this role on many occasions for England, but it is not is natural style. He has earned his name for the inventive and free-stroking batting. With no Chris Lynn or Uthappa in middle-order, it seems likely that Karthik will bank his hopes on the talented Shubman Gill and Nitish Rana with Russell’s moving up in batting order.
Pat Cummins can lead the tail-enders coming at No.8 which will also provide the right batting depth. It could prove beneficial during times when the top order collapse cheap.
Weakness: No bowling attack
This is where KKR will struggle the most. The team has just too many overseas bowlers and lacks any capped Indian fast bowler. Certainly, Cummins will bring with him a lot of experience but the Achilles Heel might prove detrimental during later stage of the tournament. Varun Chakravarthy and Chris Green can be good options during powerplay with Cummins and Kuldeep Yadav bowling in the middle.
The Kolkata-team also have express pace in Kamlesh Nagarkoti, Shivam Mavi and Lockie Ferguson, who can all hit 145kmph. However, it would be difficult to fit them in the playing eleven, if much experienced Sandeep Warrier and Krishna Prasidh.
Key players: If there is one player who will play an important role, it would be Shubman Gill. The versatile batsman can play as an opener, No.3 and also an anchor when need arises. Kuldeep Yadav, if in form, can also give a hard time to the opposing teams with his mystery bowling on UAE’s spin favoured pitches.