For the most part of the Indian Premier League 2020, Kolkata Knight Riders have a settled Playing XI, but the unavailability of Sunil Narine and all-rounder Andre Russell has left the team handicapped. With Russell out with a knee injury and Narine complaining of a niggle, KKR were guilty of producing one of their most embarrassing batting performances against Royal Challengers Bangalore where they were restricted to 84/8 batting first.
On Saturday, as they gear up to face table-toppers Delhi Capitals, whom they came close to beating the last time in the competition, the big question remains this: Will the West Indian pair of Russell and Narine recover in time to help their campaign? And if not, what can Eoin Morgan conjure to register his first win as KKR captain?
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Keeping that in mind, here’s a look at KKR’s predicted XI for the clash against Capitals.
1. Rahul Tripathi: The last time Rahul Tripathi was promoted up the order, he struck a fabulous 81 to set up KKR’s win against Chennai Super Kings. Against RCB, Tripathi was out for 1 and the same Shahrukh Khan, who shouted an iconic dialogue from his career after his half-century, expects him to score a McCullum-like 158. Even if Tripathi can score half of McCullum’s runs from that IPL opener in 2008, it will be a job well done for the batsman.
2. Shubman Gill: Having started the tournament well, Shubman Gill has gotten starts but not been able to convert them into something substantial. Following his cheap dismissal against RCB the other night, the young opener will be hoping to brush off the disappointment with a big one up the order
3. Rinku Singh: Barring one half-century, Nitish Rana has been a bit of a letdown for KKR, coming off scores of 9, 2, 9, 5, 29 and a duck in his previous six innings, a total of 54 runs, which is pretty abysmal. Young Rinku Singh can replace him in the playing XI, given his big hitting skills and provide KKR a breath of fresh air in their XI.
4. Eoin Morgan (Captain): Captain Morgan was the only batsman who was able to put up something against RCB’s tight and disciplined bowling line-up. However, the T20 captain has been nowhere near his explosive best and with KKR jostling for a place in the playoffs, now is the right time to go big.
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5. Dinesh Karthik (Wicketkeeper): Some of Dinesh Karthik’s finest T20 innings have come in adversity-filled conditions. Recall the Nidahas Trophy final. Who gave India a chance? With just one half-century, Karthik hasn’t quite lived up to the reputation. He gave up captaincy with an aim to focus on his batting and what better time than now to come to the fore?
6. Pat Cummins: Pat Cummins bowled a tidy spell of 3/18 against RCB, but it could be related to the fact that the opposition wasn’t even chasing 100. Cummins leading from the front and grabbing quick wickets in a tournament where fast bowlers have excelled is just the tonic he needs to get back in form.
7. Sandeep Warrier: Kuldeep Yadav may once again face the brunt of omission from the Playing XI given his wicketless outing against Sunrisers Hyderabad and not even entering the attack against RCB. Sandeep Warrier, who played just one game this season against MI can be a valuable addition to bolster the fast bowling line-up.
8. Sunil Narine: With the wily off-spinner’s name cleared from a suspect bowling action, Narine is likely to take his place back in the team. But the bigger question will be his bowling form, which has seen him pick just five wickets from six games, even though he has been highly effective in the death overs.
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9. Prasidh Krishna: Prasidh Krishna is likely to replace his place in the Playing XI. Afterall, it will be unfair to leave any bowler out based on KKR’s batting failure against RCB since they can only do so much.
10. Lockie Ferguson: What a revelation Lockie Ferguson was against Sunrisers Hyderabad, picking up three wickets in the match and another two in the Super Over. The only thing KKR can wish to do with him is perhaps use a time machine to go back to the beginning of the tournament and give him more matches.
11. Varun Chakravarthy: Varun Chakravarthy bowled four testing overs and even though he went wicketless against RCB, he can be a threat as teams are yet to read him fully.