Strongest Playing XI for Kolkata Knight Riders team after IPL 2021 Auction

With the new bunch of old and new players, let us have a look at the strongest possible starting XI for the KKR.

Saurabh GangulyAuthor

Updated - 30 March 2021 03:58 PM

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Kolkata Knight Riders along with the Sunrisers Hyderabad had the least budget at their disposal for the IPL 2021 Players' Auction, with Rs 10.75 crores. However, the franchise did manage to complete some intelligent buys at the auction and managed to include as many as 8 players into their squad with the amount. Over the years, KKR have managed to produce top quality performances even without a star studded line up like a RCB or an old version of their own team which struggled in its initial few years.

Sheldon Jackson, Shakib Al Hasan, Karun Nair, Harbhajan Singh, Pawan Negi, Vaibhav Arora, Venkatesh Iyer and Ben Cutting were the players that were included in the KKR squad at the auctions in February. With the new bunch of old and new players, let us have a look at the strongest possible starting XI for the KKR, keeping in mind the balance of the team and the rule of playing a maximum of four overseas stars.

1. Shubman Gill

One of the most promising Indian youngsters Shubman Gill will undoubtedly walk into the Playing XI of the Kolkata Knight Riders side. The elegant opener provides them with the solidity at the top of the order, allowing stroke makers around him to go for the big hits in the powerplay overs. Meanwhile, Gill finds the boundaries with a minimal risk shot especially during the fielding restrictions to frustrate the bowlers. Gill accumulated 440 runs in the 14 matches last season but would look to work on his strike rate of 117.96.

2. Rahul Tripathi

Rahul Tripathi has time and again proved his utility in the Indian Premier League (IPL). However, he was unfortunately kept for too late in the batting order to make a significant impact. A clarity of role given to Tripathi at the top of the order and the freedom can bring out the best from the 30-year-old. Tripathi scored 230 runs in 11 matches last season but is capable of much more as is evident from the glimpses he has shown in this tournament before. Can he deliver though? We shall find out.

3. Nitish Rana

Nitish Rana is yet another Indian youngster, who is growing in stature with the passage of every T20 season. The Delhi lads also gives the Shah Rukh Khan co-owned franchise the option of a left-handed batsman in the middle and can even be tried as an opener along with Shubman Gill. Rana scored 352 runs in 14 matches last season and while he did manage a few big scores, he wasn't quite as consistent as he would have liked.

4. Eoin Morgan (c)

The number four position should ideally belong to Eoin Morgan, one of the cleanest hitters of the cricket ball in white-ball cricket. However, Morgan and the KKR management kept on experimenting with their batting order last season and consequently could not make the use of the talent they had in their ranks. The KKR skipper can not be the perfect finisher but can nicely set up the innings going into the final overs. Morgan, however, has been ruled out of the last two ODIs against India and it remains to be seen if he is able to regain his fitness before the start of the tournament.

5. Dinesh Karthik (wk)

The former KKR captain has been known to be a team man and could be a great option to have in the middle order. The wicketkeeper batsman can not only clear boundaries with power but also has the touch game to literally play with the field set by the opposition captain. Karthik's form could make the difference of 15-20 valuable runs in the slog overs and could well be used as a floater along with Shakib Al Hasan.

6. Shakib Al Hasan

Bangladesh all-rounder Shakib Al Hasan will not only be a brilliant option with the bat but can also give four overs with the ball, if required. Moreover, Shakib can bat anywhere in the batting order and might even be promoted up the order, depending upon the situation of the game or the plan of the opposition. The southpaw has been a superb addition for the franchise and after missing out on the 2020 season, the 34-year-old would be hungry to prove his might in the tournament.

7. Andre Russell

Andre Russell is probably the most dangerous batsmen in T20 cricket. He has time and again pulled off the seemingly impossible for the team and single-handed won them matches. However, he was not in the best of form last year and also seemed to battle injury concerns. Kolkata fans would be praying that Russell not only remains fully fit this year but delivers to match his reputation and make his team win.

8. Varun Chakravarthy

The mystery spinner had a season to remember last year as he picked 17 wickets in 13 matches in the 2020 edition in the UAE. Chakravarthy even received his maiden India call up post a dream run but failed to clear the fitness test. However, there is still some time for the T20 World Cup later this year and an impressive show yet again in this year's IPL will keep Chakravarthy in the reckoning for the Indian squad for the marquee event scheduled to happen in India.

9. Pat Cummins

After being picked for 15.5 crores in the Players' Auction last year, some eyebrows were raised on Pat Cummins' performance after he failed to deliver in the initial few matches. However, he proved his utility not only with the bowl in hand, especially during the powerplay overs but also bailed KKR out on a couple of occasions with his ability to hit sixes lower down the order. Cummins picked up 12 wickets from the 14 matches and is expected to start for KKR.

10. Kamlesh Nagarkoti

Kamlesh Nagarkoti showed glimpses of what he can go on to achieve in the seasons to come in 2020 season. Although he picked five wickets in 10 matches last year, the youngster impressed with his raw skill set. Hopefully, the 21-year-old would be able to pay back the faith shown in him by the franchise who kept in their squad for two seasons despite injury ruling him out for a couple of seasons.

11. Prasidh Krishna

Prasidh Krishna is getting better and better as a limited-overs bowler. Not only will making his India debut give him enough confidence on his skill set but the way he came back after getting hit for runs in his first spell in international cricket will remind the opponents of his character. Prasidh has been particularly impressive in the first half of the innings but would look to work on bowling at the death, where his services might be required.

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