The Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) endured a mixed season at IPL 2020, where they won 7 out of their 14 matches and failed to qualify for the play-offs on account of a greater negative net run-rate. The change of captaincy from Karthik to Morgan too had a bearing on their final outcome at the league, rounding off another ordinary season in the world’s toughest league, the IPL.
That said, KKR will be awaiting the start of a fresh season in 2021, in an attempt to rectify the previous flaws and put a positive step forward towards winning their 3rd title. They play their 1st game against SRH at Chennai on 11th April 2021. While we are more or less certain about the Indian players featuring in the fixture, the 4 overseas players for KKR may present a puzzle to the opposition and cricket fanatics. Helping them out a bit, we attempt to predict the 4 overseas players for KKR in the opening fixture:
1. Eoin Morgan
Appointed as a mid-season captain in IPL 2020, Morgan gave his all to assist KKR in reaching the playoffs stage. In the 14 innings last year, Morgan struck 418 runs at an average of 41.80 and a strike rate of 138.41. Unfortunately, the stellar show couldn’t propel them into the playoffs, finishing at the 5th position in the points table.
To his liking, he will get a proper go as a captain at this year’s IPL and the retention of a major chunk of players from last year does help. Having already won a World Cup for England, Morgan will look to replicate the same performance for Kolkata and get them closer to the trophy.
2. Andre Russell
With just 117 runs in 9 innings at an average of 13 and a strike rate of 144.44, IPL 2020 was disappointing for Russell to say the least. He did pick 6 wickets at an average of 29.16, but the economy rate was on the higher side, 9.72 to be precise. Despite this being a forgettable season for Russell, KKR continued believing in his abilities and have retained him for the new season.
The faith might well pay off as the striker has been in some hitting form post the 2020 season, scoring crucial knocks for the Colombo Kings at LPL 2020. Apart from this, he continues to be a reliable asset as a bowler and in the field, pulling off some outstanding saves and catches. There is absolutely no doubt about his place in the side, who walks into the team on any given day.
3. Sunil Narine
One of the oldest players for the franchise, things haven’t remained the same for Narine in the last few seasons of the IPL. His suspect bowling action and the prolonged injury have been the reasons for his diminishing returns for KKR at the world’s most-followed league, the IPL.
Batting at various positions, Narine scored 121 from 9 innings at a strike rate of 142.35 and also picked 5 wickets at an economy rate of 7.94 in IPL 2020. The numbers, though, discouraging, do indicate his worth playing for the franchise, who is willing to perform whichever role the team wants him to. If things happen to fall in place for the mystery spinner, there is nothing that can stop him from being the highest wicket-taker in the upcoming season.
4. Pat Cummins
Being the most expensive player at the auction for IPL 2020, KKR had a lot of hopes from their new recruit, Cummins. He did perform decently, scoring 146 runs at a strike rate of 128.07 and picking 12 wickets at an economy rate of 7.86 in the last edition, but definitely not worth the amount he was paid.
The KKR owners, who had the option of releasing him and then buying at a lower price, decided against it and chose to retain him at the exorbitant price for the upcoming season. This gesture clearly demonstrates the faith, the franchise has in him and are confident that Cummins will change the direction of the tide and conjure a successful season for KKR in IPL 2021.