Two-time champions Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) released some of the established names including Robin Uthappa, Chris Lynn and Piyush Chawla, who were a regular part of their playing XI last year, ahead of the auctions for IPL 2020.
As a result, they went into the auctions with a purse of 35.65 cr. The strategy was quite clear, to get in a strike bowler and some experience in the middle order. They went all out for Pat Cummins, who became the second most expensive buy in the history of IPL. Eoin Morgan will add to the experience in the middle order.
The likes of Tom Banton and Rahul Tripathi can be used at the top in the KKR Playing XI for IPL 2020. Varun Chakravarthy and M Siddharth were bought after they impressed skipper Dinesh Karthik in the domestic circuit. They add to the spin repertoire along with Chris Green and Praveen Tambe. Nikhil Naik comes in as the backup wicketkeeper.
KKR Probable Playing XI for IPL 2020:
Sunil Narine/ Tom Banton, Rahul Tripathi, Shubman Gill, Nitish Rana, Eoin Morgan, Dinesh Karthik, Andre Russell, Pat Cummins, Kuldeep Yadav, Prasidh Krishna, Sandeep Warrier/ M Siddharth
The makeshift opener Sunil Narine has proved to be a game-changer with the bat for KKR. His style of batting and the license to go for everything makes him a dangerous proposition. The left-hander has an impressive strike rate of 179.21 while opening in the IPL. Narine batting at the top helps in adding depth to the batting lineup since he guarantees at least three overs with the ball more often than not.
KKR’s latest recruit Tom Banton became a sensation with his effortless hitting in the English T20 league. He might prove to be the steal of the auctions, getting sold for his base price of 1 cr.
Having caught everyone’s attention with his free-flowing approach while opening the batting for Rising Pune Supergiants in 2017, Rahul Tripathi has did not get many opportunities at the top for Rajasthan Royals in 2018 and 2019. However, KKR will look to take advantage of Tripathi’s experience at the top, which will not only help the batting depth of the team but also get the best out of Tripathi.
One of Indian cricket’s brightest prospects at present, Shubman Gill played at number three for India at the under-19 World Cup. He plays at the top in domestic cricket, but his style of play is suited for the crucial number three slot too. Considering that the KKR starting XI does not have a genuine option for number three and ample resources for opening, it will be wise for Gill to take up the crucial first down slot and guide the innings accordingly.
England’s World Cup-winning captain has not set the stage on fire in the IPL yet. However, his experience will be crucial for KKR’s middle order as they do not have the experience of Uthappa anymore. Having led England to their maiden World Cup victory, Morgan brings with him the much-needed leadership experience too, which will undoubtedly be of great help for Dinesh Karthik on and off the field. Morgan will be KKR’s mainstay in the middle order.
Having shown what he is capable of, Nitish Rana needs to be more consistent with the bat this season. In the two seasons Rana has played for KKR, he has faltered in the second half of the season after doing exceedingly well in the first half. He can be used as a floater in the lineup, having shown the ability to bat anywhere from number three to seven. Moreover, Karthik often uses Rana as a partnership-breaker with his part-time bowling.
Dinesh Karthik has been prolific with the finishing role for quite a long time now. The skipper perfectly fits into the number six or seven position, having the experience as well the composure needed for the role. Having led his side incredibly well in 2018, Karthik faced some criticism for the way he used his players, especially his under-utilization of the in-form Andre Russell. However, KKR continuing with Karthik as the skipper despite having the likes of Morgan in the side must do him a world of good.
The flamboyant Caribbean all-rounder had a dream season with the bat in 2019, scoring 510 runs at an incredible average of 56.66 and an astounding strike rate of 204.81 (the highest of the season). He finished games on his own, winning a number of matches from virtually unwinnable situations. With the ball, Russell picked 11 wickets at a strike rate of 16.45. He is undoubtedly KKR’s most valuable possession, who they will look to handle well considering his history of recurring injuries.
The most expensive overseas player and the second most expensive player in IPL history, Pat Cummins comes into the side as the spearhead of a rather inexperienced pace attack. Cummins will have the responsibility of bowling with the new ball as well as the death overs. Moreover, he is more than decent with the bat too, adding some much-needed depth to the batting.
Sandeep Warrier/ M Siddharth
Sandeep Warrier, the medium-pacer from Kerala, made his IPL debut in 2019 for KKR. He picked up just two wickets in three outings but did impress with his line and length. The economy of 7.08 is impressive for a newcomer on pitches that were batting friendly. KKR will look to use Warrier’s experience in domestic cricket.
M Siddharth was snapped by KKR after he impressed Dinesh Karthik in the Syed Mushtaq Ali trophy. The left-arm orthodox spinner might get a look in if the management wants to bring in Tom Banton for Sunil Narine. Moreover, on slow and low pitches like those in the UAE, Siddharth can be a valuable addition, considering he is the only left-arm orthodox spinner in the side.
Kuldeep Yadav had a forgettable season in 2019, especially after Moeen Ali’s assault on the chinaman bowler for 27 runs in an over. He has been in and out of the Indian team since then but has shown glimpses of brilliance every now and then. KKR will want the Kuldeep to play the role of the attacking wrist spinner in the absence of Piyush Chawla.
Prasidh Krishna emerged into the scene in 2018 and impressed everyone with his pace and accuracy. In the 7 games he played, Krishna picked 10 wickets at a strike rate of 16.80. Moreover, he bowled exceedingly well in some high-pressure games at the death. 2019 was a disappointing season for Krishna as the strike rate rocketed past 60. But considering the experience he has in the IPL, KKR would like to use him at the death to partner Cummins.