Two-time IPL champions Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) would be eyeing its third title this season after a forgettable IPL 2019. After winning four of its first five matches in 2019, the team lost six matches on the trot in the business to end to miss the qualifiers by a whisker.
Following a nightmarish 2019 season, KKR revamped its coaching set-up and added some key players but went on with Dinesh Karthik as captain, more so because CEO Venky Mysore has faith in his leadership. Karthik will only get a second chance this season and might not get another go as skipper if it all goes awry this time round.
To strengthen the leadership group, KKR has appointed Brendon McCullum as head coach and David Hussey as chief mentor, while Kyle Mills was brought in as bowling coach.
The addition of Australian pacer Pat Cummins and England world-cup winning captain Eoin Morgan will provide the team, which has a lot of young Indian players, some much-needed experience.
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IPL 2020: SWOT analysis of Kolkata Knight Riders
KKR will bank on its strong batting line-up to deliver, as the Karthik-led team has a perfect blend of Indian youngsters Shubman Gill and Nitish Rana, and experienced overseas players Eoin Morgan and Andre Russell. Sunil Narine, Russell and Morgan can change the complexion of the game all on their own. Englishman Tom Banton could well add to that list, although he is yet to pass the IPL litmus test. Head coach Brendon McCullum, England’s most successful white-ball captain Morgan and Karthik’s experience also make KKR one of the best leadership groups of the league.
After IPL 2020 was moved out of India due to the coronavirus pandemic, KKR’s having got hold of pacer Cummins is likely to be of little help. This is because the pitches in UAE largely help spinners and the team will now have to depend heavily on the experience of Narine and Kuldeep Yadav. If either of them fails, KKR does not have too many options but to fall back on Tamil Nadu's Varun Chakravarthy, who can bowl both off and leg-spin.
The strong overseas line-up, with good Indian youngsters, can end the team’s five-year title drought. Shubman Gill would be itching to make a mark this season and make a strong case in Team India. Also, if Cummins, the IPL's highest-paid player, lives up to expectations, the Knights could well be looking to make the playoffs quite comfortably. India’s 2018 Under-19 bowling stars Kamlesh Nagarkoti and Shivam Mavi would be fresh after injuries and look to prove a point.
There aren't too many threats for KKR. However, overdependence on Narine and Russell could prove costly for the team, as already seen in previous seasons.