Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) have been on a downward spiral in this year’s edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL). KKR are one of the teams languishing in the bottom half of the points table, placed seventh with only two wins and five losses heading into the UAE leg of the tournament.
Plagued with inconsistency in all departments of the game, KKR struggled throughout the Indian leg of the tournament, where playing matches at neutral grounds in Chennai, Mumbai and Ahmedabad only further exposed their flaws.
KKR will resume their campaign on Monday (September 20) with a fixture in Abu Dhabi against second-placed Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB).
KKR squad changes for second leg of IPL 2021
OUT: Pat Cummins
IN: Tim Southee
Current KKR Squad: Eoin Morgan (c), Dinesh Karthik, Shubman Gill, Nitish Rana, Tim Seifert, Rinku Singh, Andre Russell, Sunil Narine, Kuldeep Yadav, Shivam Mavi, Lockie Ferguson, Tim Southee, Kamlesh Nagarkoti, Sandeep Warrier, Prasidh Krishna, Rahul Tripathi, Varun Chakravarthy, Shakib Al Hasan, Sheldon Jackson, Vaibhav Arora, Harbhajan Singh, Karun Nair, Ben Cutting, Venkatesh Iyer, Pawan Negi.
Probable KKR Playing XI: Shubman Gill, Rahul Tripathi, Nitish Rana, Eoin Morgan (c), Andre Russell, Dinesh Karthik, Sunil Narine, Lockie Ferguson Varun Chakravarthy, Shivam Mavi, Prasidh Krishna
Batsmen: Shubman Gill, Rahul Tripathi, Nitish Rana, Eoin Morgan (c)
Records of their specialist batsmen partly explain KKR’s problems. Only one of Gill (132), Morgan (92), Tripathi (187) and Rana (201) could claim to have individually reached the 200-mark. All four of them have averaged below thirty in the tournament so far while carrying below 140 strike-rates.
Wk-bat: Dinesh Karthik
Karthik has been mostly safe and sound behind the stumps but teams have managed to put a break on his run-scoring in the lower middle-order. He has struck 123 runs with a best of 40 not out but his runs have come at a strike-rate of only 138.20.
All-rounders: Andre Russell, Sunil Narine
When Russell and Narine get going with bat and ball, they add immense value to the KKR side. But this year, it’s been a case of both the West Indies players finding it hard to get going at least in one skill.
Russell has made his 163 runs at a strike-rate of 155.23 but he has had an economy rate of 11.40 as a right-arm quick. Narine has conceded only 7 runs per over for his three scalps from four innings but he has made only 10 runs as a left-hand batsman.
Bowlers: Lockie Ferguson Varun Chakravarthy, Shivam Mavi, Prasidh Krishna
With Pat Cummins opting out, New Zealand’s Lockie Ferguson is expected to replace him as the leader of the pace pack for KKR. Ferguson didn’t play a single game during the Indian leg of the tournament but featured in five matches last season and took 6 wickets while going for a respectable 7.46 runs per over.
Mystery spinner Varun Chakravarthy has been one of the positives to have come out of the KKR camp. Chakravarthy has taken 7 wickets from as many games this season at an economy rate of 7.82, having made 17 scalps in IPL 2020 last year while going for 6.84 runs per over.
The presence of Ferguson and Chakravarthy will give young speedsters Mavi and Prasidh, the cushion they require at this stage of their development.