IPL 2019: Kolkata Knight Riders Predicted Playing XI

Kolkata Knight Riders (Strongest XI)

Kolkata Knight Riders main concern last season was not having enough backup options for their first choice players and an inexperienced pace attack. They have filled the gaps this year and have brought in Joe Denly, Carlos Brathwaite, Anrich Nortje, Harry Gurney and Lockie Ferguson as their overseas purchases.

The biggest strength of KKR is having the best all-rounders in the IPL. With Sunil Narine, Andre Russell and Carlos Braithwaite, KKR  have the much-required flexibility to tweak their starting XIs

Let’s take a look at the strongest XIs of KKR in South Africa and Indian conditions. 

1. Batsmen

1.1 Top Order (Number 1, 2 and 3) - KKR’s first-choice opening combination will be Sunil Narine and Chris Lynn. The explosive opening combination has been performing consistently for the KKR team and there is no need to tweak a winning formula. 

If needed, KKR have brought in a backup option in Joe Denly. He has hit 898 runs as an opener in 2018 alone. Joe Denly will replace Chris Lynn for the Indian leg as the Australian is likely to go out for WC preparations. 

Shubman Gill can also come in at the opening spot being a regular opener but that will happen only in the case of all the other 3 options not performing to their potential. 

The position of No. 3 - Robin Uthappa will come in at No. 3 for KKR. He did not set the stage on fire in 2018 but still chipped in 351 runs to continue as a vital member in the KKR’s scheme of things. Bringing in a wealth of experience, he remains the No. 1 choice for at the crucial spot of number 3.

2. Middle Order (Number 4, 5 and 6) - Shubman Gill, Nitish Rana, and skipper Dinesh Karthik constitute the middle order for the Kolkata Knight Riders at 4, 5 and 6 respectively.

Dinesh Karthik has always been unselfish as a batsman, catering to the need of the team and is one of the most versatile batsmen in the IPL. His ability to come in at any position makes this middle order a force.
For Shubman Gill, this will be a make or break year. Given his talents, he will try to come in and make the No. 4 position his own. He has been in excellent form in the domestic competitions and recently hit 272 for Punjab.

Nitish Rana has proved to be a match winner in last 2 IPL seasons and thus comes in at No. 5. Plus his part-time spin is lethal to break important partnerships. (ABD and Virat in the same over! remember?)
In the Indian leg, this combination remains the same.

Backup options - For middle order, KKR have brought in Nikhil Naik(backup keeper) and retained Rinku Singh from last year. Though lacking in depth and like to like replacements, they make decent options to bank on in the time of crisis.

3. Lower Order (Number 7, 8 and 9) - The All-Rounders -  Probably the strongest lower order in the IPL, 
Andre Russell, Carlos Brathwaite, and Kuldeep Yadav come in at NO. 7,8 and 9.

Andre Russell has been the most valuable player(MVP) for KKR on more than one occasion. At No. 7 he just comes in with a license to go for the kill. Match winning abilities with the bat and the ball catered to the T20 format make him an automatic selection. The only worrying part is how injury prone he has been in the recent seasons.

KKR bought Carlos Brathwaite in this year’s auction for 5 crores. He comes in at No. 8 to provide depth to a star-studded batting lineup. With Brathwaite at no. 8, it gives a cushion to the preceding batsmen to play all out attacking cricket. 38 wickets in 20 T20s make him the perfect option to break partnerships when needed

Spearheading the spin attack, Kuldeep Yadav comes in at No. 9 for KKR. Kuldeep is KKR’s best spinner and was a nightmare for batsmen in South African conditions.

His backup option in the team is Piyush Chawla. With Narine in the squad, only one out of Kuldeep and Chawla will play in South African conditions.

For Indian leg - The lower order remains the same as West Indies board has not given any deadline date to its players. But in the case Carlos Brathwaite leaves, Anrich Nortje replaces him at No. 8

4. Bowlers (No. 10 and No. 11) - For the South African leg, KKR’s pace attack will be led by domestic pacers in Prasidh Krishna and Kamlesh Nagarkoti. Krishna has an impressive record in T20s with 14 wickets in just 10 matches. Nagarkoti was injured for the 2018 season, but the U19 World Cup star makes it to the KKR team in South African leg

If any of these 2 fail to perform, KKR will turn to Shivam Mavi, who impressed last year but was expensive in many matches. 

Indian Leg - Piyush Chawla comes in at the expense of Nagarkoti as 3 spinners as KKR’s allrouders will take up the responsibility in India. With 3 World class spinners in Chawala, Sunil Narine and Kuldeep, KKR will dictate the terms.