IPL 2021: Kolkata Knight Riders armed with depth in bowling, yet batting woes remain

Kolkata Knight Riders have not been crowned champions in 6 years and something big must happen if fortunes are to change in the IPL 2021.

Eoin Morgan and Rahul Tripathi in a file photo. (Image credit: Twitter)

It’s safe to say that the Kolkata Knight Riders had a mixed bag in the 2020 edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL). They finished the league season in fifth, narrowly missing out on the play-offs for the second year running. However, the table only tells half the story. The two-time IPL champions showed they could compete but often folded under pressure. Their start to the campaign was so poor that they replaced skipper Dinesh Karthik with Eoin Morgan midway through the tournament. The England white-ball skipper will be keen to stamp his authority on a side that are desperate to end their title drought in IPL 2021.

Nevertheless, the Kolkata-based franchise have made a few new additions to the side in the IPL 2021 auction and will be keen to improve their fortunes. Let us analyse the major strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats in the side.

Strengths

  1. Depth in bowling attack – The Brendon McCullum-coached side have an array of bowling options to call upon, especially as far as Indian bowlers go. Pat Cummins will lead the attack, with Lockie Ferguson as the other overseas option to call upon. Prasidh Krishna, Kamlesh Nagarkoti, Shivam Mavi, Sandeep Warrier and Vaibhav Arora are the Indian pace options. Kuldeep Yadav, Varun Chakravarthy, Harbhajan Singh, Pawan Negi, Shakib al Hasan and Sunil Narine provide a variety of options in the spin department.
  2. Morgan a transformative leader – ‘Captain Morgan’ couldn’t do much to arrest the slide last season but the Irish-born English skipper has the ability to transform sides. Look no further than the job he did with the England side. Under his leadership, a group of perennial underachievers were transformed into world beaters. KKR fans will hope he brings the same tactical calm and aggressive mentality to the franchise in the IPL 2021.

Weaknesses

  1. Lack of firepower in batting – KKR have a number of reliable batsmen within the line-up but very few who can turn the game on its head. Both Sunil Narine and Andre Russell looked woefully out of touch with the bat last season. Dinesh Karthik’s IPL form has also been up and down over the past two seasons. How the side look to address this shortcoming remains to be seen.
  2. Kuldeep’s lack of form – Kuldeep Yadav’s decline in form over the past two years has been alarming to watch. The Chinaman was once considered a shoo-in across formats but now struggles to get a game for India. At his best, he is someone who guarantees wickets. KKR need the 26-year-old back at his best.

Opportunity

Perhaps KKR’s biggest opportunity for IPL 2021 would be for established players to prove their worth. The likes of Narine, Russell, Cummins and Karthik are all talented players in their own right. By and large though, these players flattered to deceive in 2020. The challenge now is for them is to now show their best in the purple and gold jersey.

Threat

Two words: Andre Russell. The Jamaican all-rounder is a proven match-winner with both and ball but had a lacklustre 2020. Fitness issues were partly to blame but the 32-year-old will be keen to show that he still has plenty to offer. That he almost injured vice-captain Dinesh Karthik in a practice match shows as much…

KKR Squad

Shubman Gill, Nitish Rana, Tim Seifert (wk), Rahul Tripathi, Gurkeerat Singh Mann, 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.




WRITTEN BY
Shayne Dias

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