Factors affecting KKR’s performance in IPL 2021.
Former IPL champions Kolkata Knight Riders will be keen to join the Mumbai Indians and the Chennai Super Kings in the club of IPL teams with at least three titles. The Knight Riders won their maiden title in 2012. Two years later, they added one more trophy to their cabinet.
The Kolkata Knight Riders have done well in the previous three seasons. However, they have not been able to deliver the goods when it mattered the most. In 2018, they lost to the Sunrisers Hyderabad in the Qualifier 2. On the other side, they have missed out on a playoffs berth in the previous two seasons. The team owners made some big decisions ahead of IPL 2021. They bought some of their former players back, while some new names have become a part of the Kolkata Knight Riders for IPL 2021.
SWOT analysis of KKR for IPL 2021
Strengths – Overseas players
It goes without saying that the Kolkata Knight Riders have one of the strongest overseas lineups in IPL 2021. Andre Russell and Sunil Narine are the biggest game-changers present in their squad. Skipper Eoin Morgan will look forward to leading the team from the front in IPL 2021.
The team’s most expensive player Pat Cummins will try to better his IPL 2020 performance. If Cummins takes wickets consistently for the Kolkata Knight Riders, the team management would consider renewing his contract before the mega-auction. Lockie Ferguson impressed the fans in the few opportunities he got last year.
Bangladeshi all-rounder Shakib Al Hasan has returned to the Kolkata Knight Riders. Meanwhile, Ben Cutting and Tim Seifert are two impact players who have done an incredible job in T20 cricket. Cutting will likely be the back-up for Russell, while Seifert could open the innings for the Kolkata-based franchise in IPL 2021. Thus, the overseas contingent is the biggest strength of KKR in IPL 2021.
Weaknesses – Lack of proper back-up options for Dinesh Karthik
The Kolkata Knight Riders struggled to finish off the matches when Dinesh Karthik or Andre Russell could not fired in the slog overs. Unfortunately, both batsman could not middle the ball in most matches last year. While KKR’s middle-order looks solid with Dinesh Karthik, there is a huge question mark on which player would take Karthik’s position in case he misses out due to any reasons.
Tim Seifert could replace Dinesh Karthik as the wicket-keeper. However, it is pertinent to note that Seifert is an opening batsman. In the finishers’ section, the Kolkata-based franchise will have to go for Rinku Singh or Karun Nair and bench an Indian top-order batsman. Pawan Negi could be another option but Negi is a bowling all-rounder.
Sheldon Jackson is the back-up Indian wicket-keeper option with the Kolkata Knight Riders. Although Sheldon has done really well for Puducherry, his IPL record is not so good. Thus, if Dinesh Karthik misses any games, it will hurt the Kolkata Knight Riders a lot in IPL 2021.
Opportunities – Golden chance for the uncapped Indian players
With two T20 World Cup tournaments in two years, many players will look to gain a place in their respective team’s World Cup squad by impressing in IPL 2021. The Kolkata Knight Riders have a strong group of uncapped Indian players. Shubman Gill recently cemented his place in Team India.
Nitish Rana and Rahul Tripathi could make a statement by batting with consistency in the Kolkata Knight Riders top order. Ishan Kishan and Suryakumar Yadav did well for the Mumbai Indians and they got the reward in the form of a national call-up. Tripathi and Rana could break into the Indian side if they continue performing well for KKR.
Prasidh Krishna once earned Virat Kohli’s attention with his pace. However, his performances declined last year. Kamlesh Nagarkoti, Shivam Mavi, and Sandeep Warrier have an opportunity of strengthening their candidature for a place in Team India with some brilliant performances for KKR. Thus, relying on uncapped players in a year where they need to perform could be an excellent thing to happen for the Knight Riders. These players need to prove themselves with match-winning performances. Ultimately, it will benefit Kolkata.
Threats – Multiple issues in spin-bowling department
Sunil Narine is the top overseas spinner of the Kolkata Knight Riders. But Narine’s action has come under the scanner. His new action has not helped him achieve so much success as the previous bowling style. Harbhajan Singh will likely have zero match practice heading into IPL 2021.
Pawan Negi went wicketless in the three Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy matches that he played for Delhi in 2021. Varun Chakravarthy will return from injury for the England T20Is. It will be intriguing to see if Varun could replicate his IPL performance for Team India and find his rhythm ahead of IPL 2021.
Kuldeep Yadav has not been so effective in white-ball cricket. Meanwhile, Shakib Al Hasan suffered multiple injuries in the series against West Indies. So, there are multiple problems in the Kolkata Knight Riders’ spin attack, which could be the biggest threat to the franchise’s chances of winning IPL 2021.