With nearly two weeks to go before the Dream11 IPL takes centre stage in the UAE, the teams have begun their preparations in the lead-up to the much-awaited tournament. Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR), along with Mumbai Indians have set up their IPL 2020 preparation camp in Abu Dhabi while other teams continue to stay in Dubai.
KKR too have started their training ahead of this year's edition of the IPL. With a young squad, KKR might be required to make more concrete decisions to figure out their playing XI ahead of their season opener in 2020.
The two-time IPL winners won the title last in 2014 when the first half of IPL edition was held in the UAE. With some of the young recruits, the franchise, under the leadership of Dinesh Karthik will look to replicate their success and win the coveted title in 2020. The team also boasts of some seasoned campaigners who will form the core of their playing XI in the upcoming IPL edition in the UAE.
KKR full IPL Squad 2020/ KKR Team Players list 2020
Dinesh Karthik (Captain), Andre Russell, Harry Gurney, Kamlesh Nagarkoti, Kuldeep Yadav, Lockie Ferguson, Nitish Rana, Prasidh Krishna, Rinku Singh, Sandeep Warrier, Shivam Mavi, Shubman Gill, Siddhesh Lad, Sunil Narine, Pat Cummins, Eoin Morgan, Varun Chakravarthy, Tom Banton, Rahul Tripathi, Chris Green, M Siddharth, Praveen Tambe, Nikhil Naik
With that being said, here's a look at possible playing XI for KKR for their opening match of IPL 2020.
1. Openers: Rahul Tripathi, Shubman Gill, Tom Banton
Rahul Tripathi & Shubhman Gill look like the first-choice openers for KKR in the playing XI. Gill performed consistently for KKR at the top of the order and was even nominated as IPL Emerging Player in 2019. Kolkata will rely heavily upon Gill to provide the team with explosive starts at the top of the order.
Tripathi is a new recruit this year for KKR after being released by Rajasthan Royals. After his impressive debut with Pune in 2017, Tripathi could not replicate his good show in the last two seasons while playing for Rajasthan Royals. However, the Maharashtra-player will have an opportunity to redeem himself with KKR in IPL 2020.
The Kolkata-based franchise even roped in an exciting young talent in Tom Banton. The English T20 opener is one of the most talked-about cricketers in the English setup recently. Banton might not find a place in KKR's first-choice playing XI but will be hoping for a certain opportunity later in the season.
2. Middle Order: Nitish Rana, Eion Morgan, and Dinesh Karthik (C & Wk)
With Robin Uthappa no longer in the mix for KKR, his spot of no.3 in the playing XI might be taken by Nitish Rana. The left-handed player impressed with a handy outing scoring 344 runs at a strike rate of 146 in IPL 2019.
The highly experienced England captain Eoin Morgan will return to KKR after last playing the IPL in 2017. Morgan is highly regarded for his limited-overs exploits. After leading England to their maiden World Cup triumph in 2019, Morgan was one of the most sought-after players at the auction table in 2019. His captaincy credentials too will come in handy for Dinesh Karthik and KKR during the crunch moments.
Dinesh Karthik didn't have the best of IPLs with the bat last year but still, the KKR captain is one of the best finishers in T20 cricket. Karthik will have a crucial role in the playing XI for KKR as a finisher, especially with his lethal blows at the end and his stroke-making ability in the death overs.
3. All-rounders: Andre Russell, Sunil Narine
KKR has possibly two of the best all-rounders in T20s going around in the form of Andre Russell and Sunil Narine. Russell was exceptional winning games single-handedly for KKR last year. He rightly won the Most Valuable Player award for his astonishing performances in IPL 2019. He scored 510 runs at a strike rate of 204.81 while also picking up 11 wickets.
Sunil Narine has surprisingly turned out to be a great batsman in the T20s. Known only for his mysteries with the ball in his early days, the move to open with him at KKR has paid rich dividends in his T20 career.
4. Bowlers: Pat Cummins, Kuldeep Yadav, Kamlesh Nagarkoti, Prasidh Krishna, Shivam Mavi
Pat Cummins will come into this tournament as the most expensive overseas player in IPL history. He was brought by KKR for a jaw-dropping INR 15.5 crores at the 2020 IPL auction. Cummins is a quality bowler and would only add strength to KKR's bowling attack which seems little inexperienced as compared to other IPL teams in the competition.
Cummins will have the likes of Prasidh Krishna, Kamlesh Nagarkoti, Shivam Mavi among the Indian fast-bowlers as part of the KKR's young bowling group. The presence of Lockie Ferguson as the other experienced fast bowler indicates quality in the KKR bowling attack.
Kuldeep Yadav, who didn't have a great IPL last year will lead KKR's spin attack in 2020 alongside Sunil Narine. He is a sure starter for KKR in this IPL and the conditions in the UAE will assist his style of bowling.
Predicted Playing XI for Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) in IPL 2020:
Rahul Tripathi, Shubhman Gill, Nitish Rana, Eoin Morgan, Dinesh Karthik (C & Wk), Andre Russell, Sunil Narine, Pat Cummins, Prasidh Krishna, Kuldeep Yadav, Shivam Mavi