Kolkata Knight Riders Predicted Playing11 against Punjab Kings


After a disappointing season last year in the Indian Premier League, Knight Riders will be gunning to bring the glory days back to Kolkata. In order to do so, KKR will have to start the season on a winning note but can they go the distance against Punjab Kings at the latter’s fortress? Well, there’s enough quality in the mix but consistency is one area where Knight Riders have failed massively in the recent past.

On top of that, designated skipper Shreyas Iyer is expected to miss the majority of the season, if not the whole of it. Thus, they lack a solid Indian batter in the middle order who can be trusted to score more than 500 runs in the season. Meanwhile, Nitish Rana, the newly appointed skipper doesn’t have enough experience which too is a major concern for Kolkata ahead of their season opener. To add to the woes, Shakib Al Hasan and Litton Das will not be available for the first couple of games and thus, problems are plenty for KKR at the moment.

However, despite all the setbacks, KKR are ‘Taiyaar’ for the season ahead. Sunil Narine is in terrific form at the moment with Andre Russell being completely fit. They are not short on options this season and thus, the two-time champions can hope for a better season this time around. Meanwhile, how will they line up in the opening game against PBKS? Let’s dissect –

Here’s Kolkata Knight Riders’ predicted XI against Punjab Kings

Openers: Narayan Jagadeesan and Rahamanullah Gurbaz (wk)

Rahmanullah Gurbaz
Rahmanullah Gurbaz (Photo Source: Twitter)

The duo of Narayan Jagadeesan and Rahmanullah Gurbaz seems perfect as one can play an aggressive brand of cricket while the other can play the role of an anchor. Gurbaz has played 124 T20 matches and has scored 3104 runs at a strike rate of 150.24. On the other hand, Jagadeesan is someone who likes to take time to settle upfront and that may work well for KKR.

Over the years, Kolkata have always preferred someone who can give a settled start. Gautam Gambhir did that for many years, following which, they signed Ajinkya Rahane last year to do the same. Thus, Jagadeesan may prove to be ideal for them in that role as the 27-year-old has scored 1064 runs from 51 T20 matches. However, if he fails to get going, Venkatesh Iyer may once again return as an opener.

Middle order: Nitish Rana, Rinku Singh

Nitish Rana
Nitish Rana. (Photo Source: Twitter)

Skipper Nitish Rana needs to lead by example this season. The 29-year-old starts well every year but eventually fails to get going. This year, it will be interesting to see whether or not captaincy will have any impact on Rana’s performance. Rana does have experience in leading his state team Delhi in domestic tournaments and will certainly be guided by other senior players at KKR to ease the load off his shoulders. He is, therefore, expected to find himself among runs as KKR’s batting unit would otherwise look very pale. Overall, the Delhi-born cricketer has played 161 T20 matches and has scored 3862 runs at a strike rate of 136.27.

When it comes to Rinku Singh, this is going to be a make-it-or-break-it season for the Aligarh-born cricketer. He has been sensational in the domestic tournaments this season and thus, it is expected that the 25-year-old can make the most of the opportunity in the upcoming tournament. The franchise has backed him a lot in the last few years and it’s now time for him to repay the favours by striking hard when the team needs him the most. Overall, he has played 75 matches in the shortest format of the game, scoring 1294 runs at a strike rate of 137.95.

All-rounders: Venkatesh Iyer, Andre Russell, Sunil Narine and Shardul Thakur

Sunil Narine for the last couple of months has been trying his best to modify his errant bowling action. (Photo: BCCI)

After having a terrible season last year, Venkatesh Iyer faced a lot of backlash as some even questioned his credibility. Since then, the 28-year-old has played only eight matches and thus, might look a bit rusty. However, he has done reasonably well in these matches and thus, one can expect him to fire again this season. Notably, under Chandrakant Pandit, Iyer has mostly played in the middle order for MP and this year, the fans may see him in the same capacity.

Coming to Andre Russell, the all-rounder is the heartbeat of KKR. Be it with the bat or the ball, he can be an absolute game-changer and the management needs a big season from him this time around. With the ball, Russell could mostly be seen bowling in the death overs whereas, with the bat, he will have the same responsibility to finish games for the side.

Sunil Narine, meanwhile, is in terrific form at the moment. He has been economical in his recent matches and has also managed to score some quick runs when required. Narine’s four overs will be extremely vital for the team as he can also nullify the overall effect shall any bowler have a bad day. Even with the bat, he will have a key role to take care of and can play as a floater.

Meanwhile, KKR have spent a lot of money to bring Shardul Thakur into the mix. Shardul is a proven wicket-taker and can manage to pick wickets at regular intervals. On top of that, the all-rounder will be desperate to prove a point and make it to the Indian team with the ODI World Cup being just around the corner.

Bowlers – Umesh Yadav, Tim Southee, Varun Chakravarthy

Umesh yadav KKR
Umesh Yadav (Photo Source: BCCI)

Pace express Umesh Yadav was brilliant for KKR in the last edition of the tournament. If he manages to play a similar brand of cricket this year as well, the 35-year-old can very well wreak havoc in the middle. Against Punjab in Mohali, where pacers are likely to get help, Umesh can take advantage of the surface and pick some quick wickets with the new ball.

Tim Southee, meanwhile, will also have the responsibility to ball in the powerplay. In the recently concluded Test series against Sri Lanka, the Kiwi skipper was sensational and the team would hope he can keep up with his form throughout the tournament.

This might be spin wizard Varun Chakravarthy’s last opportunity to prove himself as a top-quality player. The 31-year-old hasn’t played a lot of cricket in the recent past and thus, it’s difficult to predict how he will go this season. 

Impact player scenarios:

If Kolkata Knight Riders bat first
Probable Impact Player: Vaibhav Arora

25-year-old Vaibhav Arora is one of the players to watch out for in the 16th edition of the Indian Premier League. However, he may not get a lot of opportunities in the first XI but can come in as an impact player to cause havoc. The Himachal-born cricketer has been sensational in the domestic trophies and will hope to carry the same vein to the cash-rich league.

If Kolkata Knight Riders bowl first 
Probable Impact Player: Mandeep Singh

KKR doesn’t have enough options and may have to look at Mandeep Singh if they need an extra batter in the middle. Mandeep is not someone who can make an instant impact but can still play the role of an anchor in case KKR’s top-order fails.

KKR Probable Playing XI – Narayan Jagadeesan, Rahmanullah Gurbaz (wk), Nitish Rana (c), Venkatesh Iyer, Rinku Singh, Andre Russell, Sunil Narine, Shardul Thakur, Umesh Yadav, Tim Southee, Varun Chakravarthy


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