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3 reasons why KKR will not win the tournament

Seven years on from their second IPL title in three years, Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) are still looking for their third championship win. A turbulent last season, where KKR were forced to change captain midway, saw them finish fifth.

This time though, KKR have arguably the best white-ball captain in the game, Eoin Morgan, from the very start.

Their IPL 2021 auction buys seem to be quite shrewd too. Shakib Al Hasan, Karun Nair, Harbhajan Singh, Ben Cutting, Pawan Negi, Sheldon Jackson, Vaibhav Arora and Venkatesh Iyer, were all added to their roster.

Andre Russell and Pat Cummins, two of their most important stars, are fully fit this time and raring to go. While KKR look good on paper and are odds on to make the playoffs, they will still find it hard to go all the way. Here’s why:

#3 Opening issues

Who will partner Shubman Gill up top?
Who will partner Shubman Gill up top?

While the KKR middle-order (Shakib Al Hasan, Eoin Morgan, Dinesh Karthik & Andre Russell) is one of the strongest on paper, it might be left with too much to handle.

Shubman Gill is sure to hold on to one of the opening spots but it is still unclear who will partner him up top.

KKR might go with Sunil Narine – having released Tom Banton – or Rahul Tripathi, who finished last season strongly. Nitish Rana is another option for the opener’s slot but he can bat at three too.

But it is unlikely that Narine will be picked up, as that would mean benching one of Shakib and Cummins. That would leave a lot on the shoulders of Rana and Tripathi.

Gill, too, will need to better his strike-rate of 117.96 from last season. Their top-order clearly isn’t their strongest forte, which may pull them back in crucial encounters.

#2 Spin-bowling not strong enough

Kuldeep Yadav has struggled in the IPL over the last couple of years
Kuldeep Yadav has struggled in the IPL over the last couple of years

KKR has a plethora of spinners to choose from but none inspire enough confidence to lead them to the title.

Varun Chakravarthy would do well to replicate his numbers from 2020 – 17 wickets in 10 matches & an economy rate of 7.10. But he has had fitness issues recently and just missed out on a potential India debut because of it.

Kuldeep Yadav has struggled with form over the last two years and his confidence has hit rock bottom. Harbhajan Singh and Pawan Negi have both been bought at the auction, but they aren’t quite championship-winning material.

Sunil Narine has picked up more than 15 wickets only once, and more than 10 twice in the last five seasons.

KKR will hope that Chakravarthy stays fit and can handle the spin-bowling department with Shakib Al Hasan.

#1 Team combination

KKR cannot afford to experiment with the team combination again
KKR cannot afford to experiment with the team combination again

KKR struggled to zero in on a settled team combination early last year, which ultimately cost them a playoff spot. Aside from the constant shuffling of the opening pairs, KKR couldn’t decide on a settled middle order either.

Morgan, Karthik and Russell were all sent up and down the order. Rahul Tripathi was played down at number six before his promotion to the top.

If they repeat last season’s mistake this time around too, this could turn into another disappointing season.

They will need to find the right team balance and stability in the batting order with every player given a defined role. But even then they might find it hard to go all the way in IPL 2021.

Published 08 Apr 2021, 17:17 IST

Source sportskeeda

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