The two-time champions, Kolkata Knight Riders will face Sunrisers Hyderabad in their first match of the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2019 in Kolkata on March 24. One of the most popular franchises in the tournament, also with one of the biggest fan bases across the country, KKR has the squad which clearly has the potential to win their third title. Let’s have a look at Pre-Tournament Best XI for Kolkata Knight Riders.
Last year, they played their first season without Gautam Gambhir, who led them to title triumphs in 2012 and 2014, and finished third in the points table. Dinesh Karthik, in his first season with the team, led the side pretty well.
Earlier in the auction, the franchise was busy right from the start as they made Brathwaite their first buy of the day. They followed it up with the likes of Lockie Ferguson and Harry Gurney. Brathwaite was a part of the Sunrisers Hyderabad side last season and was barely used, managing to play just four games for the IPL 2018 runners-up.
Heading into the auctions, KKR had released six players – Mitchell Starc, Mitchell Johnson, R Vinay Kumar, Ishank Jaggi, Apoorv Wankhade and Tom Curran found their way out of the franchise. KKR’s latest buys are tipped to provide more balance to the middle-order, an area that had become their undoing last season.
Destructive top order
Sunil Narine found a second life with the bat in last year’s IPL. He moved up the order to open the batting and was simply destructive. At the other end, Chris Lynn, one of the powerful hitters of this game makes a destructive pair with Narine. This pair is sure to provide entertainment to the spectators.
The Under-19 World Cup winner Shubman Gill, who impressed with his performance last season, had a great Ranji run. He is sure to play a much bigger role in KKR’s fortunes this year.
The Kolkata-based franchise created a formidable batting attack with the likes of skipper Dinesh Karthik, Nitish Rana and Andre Russell forming the core and will once again depend on them to deliver in 2019
Dinesh Karthik was the leading run-getter for the side last year and led with an example. He made 371 runs in 12 games and donned the role of a finisher. He struck at a strike rate of 154.58. Once again, he will be the key player in the batting order during the middle and slog overs.
For the last 2 seasons, one cricketer who is rapidly making his case stronger to be a direct beneficiary of this shortest route to international cricket is the stylish left-hand batsman Nitish Rana. The batsman shone during his stint for Mumbai Indians in 2017 and then carried that form to Kolkata.
The X-Factor for KKR, however, remains Andre Russell. He is as explosive as any batsman can get in the format. The Caribbean has won matches for the team from virtually impossible situations. What makes him the most valuable player is the ability to deliver the goods with the ball as well. He is reliable with both new ball as well as at the death.
Trusted Bowling unit
KKR was struck with a blow when Shivam Mavi and Kamlesh Nagarkoti were ruled out from the league due to injuries. In their absence, they roped in Sandeep Warrier. However, the Kerala pacer might not find a place straightaway in the XI. Prasidh Krishna, who had a decent run for the team in 2018, could be the first choice.
In the spin department, KKR has two gems of the current generation. Kuldeep Yadav and Sunil Narine will bowl together and make life difficult for the opposition. To add to the strength, Piyush Chawla will also provide the cushion.
Pre-Tournament Best XI for Kolkata Knight Riders
Sunil Narine, Chris Lynn, Robin Uthappa, Shubman Gill, Nitish Rana, Dinesh Karthik, Andre Russell, Piyush Chawla, Kuldeep Yadav, Prasidh Krishna, Tom Curran