Kolkata Knight Riders: IPL 2020 Preview

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It has been long since KKR reached an IPL final ! Will they do it this time around??

“Korbo lorbo jeetbo re, korbo lorbo re jeetbo re, jeetbo re.” This theme song won the Kolkata Knight Riders the title in 2012 and 2014, but those victories were more than five years ago. Then, it was Gautam Gambhir’s invincible army that had clinched two titles within three seasons. Ever since the 2014 victory against the Kings XI Punjab in the finals, the unit has managed to reach the playoffs on three of the five occasions. However, KKR could never apply the finishing touches to a strong IPL campaign. 

Over the years, KKR has always tried to nurture local talent. They succeeded by bringing in the likes of Manish Pandey, Suryakumar Yadav, Robin Uthappa, Manvinder Bisla, Debrata Das and many more. The only Indian player that remains from the 2014 squad is Kuldeep Yadav, but with his recent dry run of form, it looks an entirely different side from the 2014 team. Although they have roped in exciting Indian talents like Shubham Gill, Nitish Rana, Rahul Tripathi, Kamlesh Nagarkoti, and Shivam Mavi, the current squad is no comparison to the Indian core KKR possessed in 2014. With the changing demands in the T20 format, KKR now has included ferocious power-hitters in the form of Andre Russell, Sunil Narine, Eoin Morgan, and the captain himself: Dinesh Karthik. The stroke-making Indian batters at the top and power hitters towards the backend of the innings with batsmen floating in between (depending on the situation) provides for the perfect balance in the batting unit. 

However, it’s the bowling which has been the area of concern. Now that Piyush Chawla is gone, KKR needed an experienced campaigner and who better than Pat Cummins to lead the attack. During the auction, there was a bidding war between the RCB and DC franchise, but KKR later came into the party and scooped Cummins up at a whopping 15.5 crores. He was not only the most expensive international buy in the history of IPL, but also the second-most costly player in the history of the IPL (behind Yuvraj Singh at 16 crores). KKR is often known for its economical buys, but this time they went all out for its international players: Pat Cummins at 15.5 crores, Morgan at 5.25 crores, Andre Russell at 8.5 crores (retained), and Sunil Narine at 12.5 crores (retained). These four form the core of this team, and it’s crucial that all four fire if KKR even has a chance at the coveted title. The management also made another two significant buys, which, in my opinion, were the “steals of the auction”. Tom Banton at one crore has to be a buy for the ages. He’s an incredibly destructive top-order batsman; he tonks the ball to all parts of the ground at strike rates exceeding 200, and on his day not even the best of bowlers don’t stand a chance against him. The other notable buy was that of Chris Green at base price (20 Lakhs). With Sunil Narine’s many injury issues, a backup in the form of Chris Green is necessary; Green took 13 wickets at an impressive economy of 6.44 in the recently concluded 2019 CPL and is a more than handy batsman down the order. In case of an injury to Narine, Green can come in the playing XI, and Rahul Tripathi can go up the order to open the innings. 

My starting XI – 

Shubhman Gill, Sunil Narine, Nitish Rana, Eoin Morgan, Rahul Tripathi, Dinesh Karthik(c)(wk), Andre Russell, Pat Cummins, Kuldeep Yadav, Kamlesh Nagarkoti, Prasidh Krishna

  • Most would be wondering why I have slotted Rahul Tripathi at number 5 and not in the top 3. In my team he is a floater: he may have to come in the first couple of overs or might have to finish the innings strongly. This kind of flexibility is what differentiates the ordinary teams from the extraordinary. But, if I had to define a position for Rahul, then it would be number 3. 

Other serious contenders for the starting XI – Shivam Mavi

My prediction –  

For me, KKR has the most robust international core, but its Indian unit is slightly underwhelming compared to the other teams. I feel this team will once again qualify for the playoffs and finish either 3rd or 4th. 

Please feel free to post your opinions in the comments section. 

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