Kolkata Knight Riders might have won two IPL trophies in 2012 and 2014 but it is a fact that in last seven years they had failed to deliver the sucker punch. Yes, in last seven years they failed to make into top four and more than that, they were edged out on NRR in last two seasons. Who knows, had they been a little aggressive upfront they would have made it to the play-offs. A captaincy change midway also didn’t help matters much.
Strengths: This year, the management went big after all-rounders. Shakib-Al-Hasan, who was part of the two title winning squads, returns. The likes of Aussie Ben Cutting and Pawan Negi will free-up space for specialist batsmen. Shubman Gill was in prime form when IPL happened in 2020. The likes of Nitish Rana and Tom Banton adds a lot of meat to the top-order. Bowling looks solid on paper with Pat Cummins leading this pace attack. Likes of Shivam Mavi and Kamlesh Nagarkoti will only help. Harbhajan Singh can form a deadly pair with young Varun Chakravarthy who was in sublime form in 2020 edition.
Weakness: Andre Russell and Sunil Narine were not in the nick and that left KKR wanting in UAE last year. Both don’t play international cricket regularly so they will be short on match practice as well. Dinesh Karthik’s runs too dried up. Currently he is blocking a position for someone like Sheldon Jackson who can walk into this side purely on his batting skills.
IPL 2020 Performance: Last year KKR failed to convert the good starts they got and as a result they were edged out on NRR after playing a lot of catch-up. Dinesh Karthik gave away his captaincy to Morgan but it was too late to turn things around. Poor form of Russell and Narine didn’t help either. Only bright spots were Shubman Gill and Varun Chakravarthy. While Gill accounted for 440 runs, Chakravarthy went onto take 17 wickets.
Highest Run Scorer in IPL 2020: Shubman Gill (440 runs)
Highest wicket-taker in IPL 2020: Varun Chakravarthy (17 wickets)
Notable Purchases in IPL 2021 Auction: Shakib-Al-Hasan played a huge role in KKR winning the titles in 2012 and 2014 and that’s the reason KKR never forget this elegant all-rounder from Bangladesh. So when the time came, they snatched him from SRH for Rs 3.2 Cr. Next notable buy was Aussie all-rounder Ben Cutting for 75 Lakh. He is an excellent all-rounder who can also give the ball a huge whack. Senior pro Harbhajan Singh (Rs 2 Cr) is also a good buy as he not only boosts the spin department, he can also play a mentor to the youngsters.
History in IPL: Being owned by Bollywood’s King Khan, KKR never fall short on all the razzmatazz. But their performance in the field was ordinary to say the least. Then they made massive changes, removing son of soil Sourav Ganguly as captain and brought Gautam Gambhir at the top. Things soon started to turn as they made it to the play-offs in 2011. Title came the very next year and two years later they had the IPL trophy once again. Since then their journey has gone downwards.
Chance / Prediction in IPL 2020: KKR really need to play out of their skins to make it to the play-offs. Last year they had to do a lot of catch up as their star players Andre Russell and Sunil Narine struggled. This year they need to go big and right from the word ‘go.’ Our prediction-Playoff (4th spot).
Full squad: Shubman Gill, Nitish Rana, Tim Seifert (wk), Rahul Tripathi, Rinku Singh, Dinesh Karthik (wk), Eoin Morgan (c), Andre Russell, Sunil Narine, Varun CV, Kuldeep Yadav, Pat Cummins, Lockie Ferguson, Kamlesh Nagarkoti, Shivam Mavi, Sandeep Warrier, Prasidh Krishna, Shakib Al Hasan, Sheldon Jackson, Vaibhav Arora, Karun Nair, Harbhajan Singh, Ben Cutting, Venkatesh Iyer, Pawan Negi