After failing to qualify for the playoffs in the last two editions, two-time champion Kolkata Knight Riders will hope to start well when it takes on Sunrisers Hyderabad at the M.A. Chidambaram Stadium on Sunday.
The team has had some issues with its batting order in the last few years and mid-way through last year, Eoin Morgan took over as captain from Dinesh Karthik. Eventually, the team missed the playoffs on Net Run Rate to SRH and RCB.
The English skipper will now have a chance to implement his ideas from the start of the season and the team managed some crucial signings in the auction.
The return of Shakib Al Hassan gives the team huge balance to the side alongside Andre Russell as a genuine all-rounder.
The Sunil Narine experiment at top of the order ran its course and a lot rides on Rahul Tripathi or Nitish Rana alongside opener Shubhman Gill to set the tone. With the ball, the team has a balanced attack with Pat Cummins and Prasidh Krishna on the pace front while Shakib and Varun Chakravarthy, if he is fit, could be more than handy here at Chepauk.
In SRH, the former champion will face the best bowling attack in the competition especially with the return of Bhuvneshwar Kumar who excelled against England recently. Alongside Sandeep Sharma and T. Natarajan, it has a strong seam attack in addition to leg-spinner Rashid Khan.
The team’s only area of concern will be how good the all-rounders Abdul Samad and Vijay Shankar can be. The duo not only needs to shore up the finishing with the bat but also fill up the fifth bowler’s role if the team wants to play both Jonny Bairstow and Kane Williamson ahead of Jason Holder. The wicket on Friday was two-paced here and Sunrisers with its potent bowling attack will feel it has an edge.
Squads: Kolkata Knight Riders: Eoin Morgan (Captain), Dinesh Karthik, Shubman Gill, Nitish Rana, Tim Seifert, Rinku Singh, Andre Russell, Sunil Narine, Kuldeep Yadav, Shivam Mavi, Lockie Ferguson, Pat Cummins, Kamlesh Nagarkoti, Sandeep Warrier, Prasidh Krishna, Rahul Tripathi, Varun Chakravarthy, Shakib Al Hasan, Sheldon Jackson, Vaibhav Arora, Harbhajan Singh, Karun Nair, Ben Cutting, Venkatesh Iyer and Pawan Negi.
Sunrisers Hyderabad: David Warner (Captain), Kane Williamson, Virat Singh, Manish Pandey, Priyam Garg, Wriddhiman Saha, Jonny Bairstow, Jason Roy, Sreevats Goswami, Vijay Shankar, Mohammad Nabi, Kedar Jadhav, J Suchit, Jason Holder, Abhishek Sharma, Abdul Samad, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Rashid Khan, T Natarajan, Sandeep Sharma, Khaleel Ahmed, Siddharth Kaul, Basil Thampi, Shahbaz Nadeem and Mujeeb ur Rahman.
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