IPL 2021: Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) team preview, new signings, withdrawals and all you need to know

IPL 2021: With four points after winning only two out of seven games, the Knight Riders need to clinch at least six games in the second leg to keep its play-offs hopes alive.

Needs consistency: Left-hander Nitish Rana has got starts, but he needs to be more responsible in shot-making.   -  K. R. Deepak

The Kolkata Knight Riders will resume its Indian Premier League campaign without star pacer Pat Cummins. The Australian fast bowler, who has also been instrumental with the bat, has been replaced by New Zealander Tim Southee.

At a precarious position with four points after winning only two out of seven games, the Knight Riders need to clinch at least six games in the second leg to keep its play-offs hopes alive.

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Eoin Morgan’s men are not doing too good at the net run rate count — currently at -0.494. One can expect explosive batting from the group in the United Arab Emirates chapter.

Rahul Tripathi, the uncapped Indian cricketer, has been the star for the franchise in the two wins. He smashed 53 off 29 against Sunrisers Hyderabad, followed by a 31-ball 42 against Punjab Kings.

The team management had asked Tripathi to score quickly to maintain the momentum. “Playing shots was a way to put the bowlers under pressure. At times, people in T20 cricket can think that a new batsman will take singles, but attack unsettles the bowlers. I wanted to play at a good strike rate and get the boundaries,” he tells Sportstar.

Tripathi is hopeful of a turnaround since it is a fresh start. “I think it can be a blessing. We lost two or three close games, but everyone was excited for the second half of the tournament. We believed we could bounce back. We were hungry to win. I think we have been a little used to the situation due to COVID.”

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The Maharashtra boy was all praise for Morgan. “Morgan is very calm, and he takes your suggestions. He is very clear about what he wants on the field. When I was fielding, he wanted me to cover the bigger part of the ground to stop the twos. He will back you if you put in the effort.”

Big man Andre Russell claimed a five-for against Mumbai Indians and a 22-ball 54 against Chennai Super Kings, but the efforts went in vain as KKR lost the games. Russell has been largely inconsistent, and KKR will expect him to fire on all cylinders.

Left-hander Nitish Rana, the only one with over 200 runs so far, has got starts, but he needs to be more responsible in shot-making.

New signing: Tim Southee

Withdrawal: Pat Cummins

Standing: 7th, seven matches, 4 points