Abhijit Chowdhury

The show must go on, and despite the Coronavirus pandemic, it will. The mega cricketing event, IPL is all set to start amid the pandemic, and teams are preparing for it. No excuse will be heard in a professional league like IPL, and so the foot on the peddle has to be there from the very beginning. And last time when the competition was held in UAE, it was KKR who won it. And this time around the fans would again hope to see the repeat of it. But what can the fans expect from the Dinesh Karthik led team? Let’s have a sneak peek into what could be the team combination; and the strength or weakness of the team that is to look forward for.

Like the past few seasons, I think, the strength of the team will be relying on the overseas players. The big Carib All-rounder Andre Russell is the key factor in the team dynamics. Along with him another Windies who constitutes the core is Sunil Narine. With his surprising opening bash and economic strike bowling, he is the go-to man for Karthik. Apart from them, Eoin Morgan, Pat Cummins, Lockie Ferguson, Tom Banton are few overseas players the team boasts of. And it is going to be a very difficult choice for Dinesh Karthik to chose from this pool.

In the bowling department, Sunil Narine is going to lead the pack with his magic. His bowling is going to be effective as well in the dry pitches of the Emirates. Apart from him Indian young guns like Prasidh Krishna, Shivam Mavi, Kamlesh Nagarkoti are going to play an important role. The raw pace attack has to learn a lot from Pat Cummins. And Pat himself will have to adjust his changeups and lengths in the shortest format.

Indian batsmen like Rahul Tripathi, Nitish Rana, Shubman Gill Dinesh Karthik are going to be effective. They can play collectively and can let someone like an Andre Russell or Eoin Morgan to shoot the guns. But as the raw talent could be an exciting factor, it also could be a headache for the new coach Brendon McCullum. It could be difficult to form him to chose at times, and it could be a challenge for him to pull someone up if they are out of form in crunch times of the tournament.

The lack of experience of these talented young guns can hurt the KKR side. Dinesh Karthik and Brendon McCullum must step in during such time and bring the best out of these players by constantly motivating and guiding them. The leadership needs to take the inspiration from Shane Warne led Rajasthan Royals’ 2008 squad, who have crowned champions with a relatively inexperienced side.

For the opening slot, I would personally recommend Shubman Gill in place of Sunil Narine. Though Narine gamble did pay off in the past few seasons. But Gill should be nurtured into someone who can carry forward the baton in the future. He could as well become someone like Virat Kohli in the RCB colors. But for that, he needs to get the opportunity that he deserves.

Last season, it was Nitish Rana who initially started as the opener for the team along with Chris Lynn. Later Sunil Narine was given the slot. Shubman was tried in the opening slot in the latter half of the tournament. And Gill did make a point by scoring a 49 ball 65 against KxiP. Gill also had an impressive score of 76 against Mumbai spending just 45 balls in Eden Gardens last season. So the potential is there, now it is the turn of the team management to put faith in him so that he pays dividends later.

Talking about foreign firepower, I feel, KKR have as many as six solid overseas players that have the potential to draft themselves straightaway in the playing 11. They have Tom Banton and Eoin Morgan as solid batsmen in the line-up. Tom Banton could be a new name for Indian fans but he surely has earned his name in the international arena with his small spell so far. His batting style is somewhat like that of Kevin Pietersen. And then KKR has Andre Russell and Sunil Narine as perfect all-rounders who can excel in both the areas and Pat Cummins & Lockie Ferguson as fiery speedsters that can trouble any batsman in the world.

In conclusion, Kolkata Knight Riders have a really balanced and talented but relatively inexperienced squad. It would eventually come down to the leading factor of captain Dinesh Karthik to guide the team to their third IPL title.

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