IPL 2021 Preview: Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR)
Kolkata Knight Riders are one of the most followed and brand-valued teams in the Indian Premier League (IPL). A late bloomer in the championship in terms of success, the Kolkata outfit has won the IPL title in 2012 and 2014.
They were fifth in last year’s edition of the tournament, narrowly missing out on a playoff spot, but with the likes of Sunil Narine, Andre Russell, Shubham Gill, and Pat Cummins on their side, Kolkata are always a team to be respected.
Having such big-name players, Kolkata will also generate a lot of interest in the IPL betting market. The team made plenty of playoff appearances over the years, but it is yet to taste success since former India player Gautam Gambhir left the side.
However, there is no dearth of talent in the team, and Kolkata can emerge as a stronger option in the betting market.
Kolkata Knight Riders at IPL 2021: The story so far
Current Position: 7th
KKR narrowly missed out on the playoffs last year in a season that saw them switch skippers halfway through. Dinesh Karthik was replaced by England ODI World Cup-winning skipper Eoin Morgan.
But it didn’t do them much good last season, nor this season, for that matter. They’ve won just two out of five and as if that wasn’t bad enough, also have a very poor net run rate.
Their biggest problem? The usual one. They rely too much on superstar all-rounder Andre Russell, to do everything. To be fair to the big Jamaican, he has done his best despite being far from 100% fit.
He hit a blistering 54 off 22 against CSK which still wasn’t enough to win the game in a hard chase and took 5-15 against Mumbai, also ending up on the losing side. But he can’t do it all on his own.
Nitish Rana has done well with the bat, scoring 201 runs which included two fifties. Rahul Tripathi has just about done his bit as well. But that’s about it as regards the batsmen.
With the ball, Pat Cummins was the best of a bad bunch with nine wickets at an economy rate of 8.83. But they’re now without the big Aussie all-rounder for the rest of the tournament after he opted to take a break in preparation for the World Cup and the Ashes later in the year.
KKR Knight Riders at IPL 2021: What might happen next?
Given the poor form they were in, KKR will have been thankful for the break and a move to the UAE. But the delay has come at a cost because they don’t have Pat Cummins now. Not only is he arguably their best bowler but his runs at number 7 were vital to the balance of the team.
They do on the other hand have Eoin Morgan available, after England’s trip to Bangladesh got postponed. However, his form hasn’t been great with the bat over the last year or so meaning it may not be such a good thing after all.
They’ll probably bring in Shakib Al-Hasan, another beneficiary of the England tour to Bangladesh being postponed. He’s a class act who can bowl four overs and bat anywhere in the middle order. But unless Shakib, Russell, and a few of the other big names fire, a Playoff place looks almost impossible.
Verdict: Highly unlikely to make the Playoffs
ODDS ON KOLKATA KNIGHT RIDERS TO WIN IPL 2021
KKR have odds of 15.00 with Betway, Bet365, and 10Cric to win what would be their third IPL title. That makes them the fifth favorites to go all the way and somewhat similar odds to what they were at the start of the 2020 season.
Some feel these are generous odds about a team who can boast two or three real game-changers like Russell, Narine, and Kuldeep Yadav. But others may feel they’re not the side of a few years ago and that they may be lacking in a couple of key areas.
BEST IPL BETTING SITES 2021
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How did KKR do in IPL 2020?
2020 was a poor season for KKR, who finished in fifth place and narrowly missed out on a playoff spot. In the end, they finished on 14 points (seven wins, seven losses), with an inferior net run-rate to RCB and SRH costing them because those two sides ended on the same points as them.
It was an inconsistent season where they never managed to win more than two matches in a row and they particularly struggled in the second half of the season.
Their cause wasn’t helped by Sunil Narine missing games after his bowling action was questioned while star man Andre Russell, as has so often been the case in the last few years, missed games through injury. They were each unavailable for four games.
They also had issues with the captaincy. Dinesh Karthik stepped down as captain and was replaced by Eoin Morgan, but results didn’t really improve under the England T20 skipper.
WHO ARE THE BEST KKR PLAYERS TO BET ON?
Russell is an obvious place to start. He may not be quite the player he was a few seasons ago with injuries and age catching up with him.
But they call him ‘Superman’ for a reason. But before backing Russell for KKR top batsman in matches, remember that he sometimes only bats at six or seven, so may not face that many balls, however quickly he scores. A better bet might be to go with him to be man-of-the-match because of the impact he has on games.
A superior bet for KKR top runscorer is the incredibly consistent Shubman Gill. The opener was their overall top runscorer last season and his steady and sure approach to batting, playing classical shots rather than smashing sixes, means he always seems to get runs.
With the ball, Varun Chakravarthy took 17 wickets last season and may do even better this term. The big advantage with him is that in Kolkata Knight Riders betting, he’s often available at much bigger odds than some of the more famous KKR bowlers.
HIGHEST PAID PLAYERS IN KKR
Pat Cummins became the costliest overseas player ever in IPL as Kolkata signed him for the mind-boggling amount of $2.3million (15.5 Crore). The man often considered the world’s best Test Match pace bowler was listed for a base price of just $0.28million.
Sunil Narine comes in second place, being paid $1.2million, while Dinesh Karthik is taking home $1 million. Andre Russell earns $0.98 million, while Kuldeep Yadav will get richer by $0.81 million in the 2021 season. Skipper Morgan earns $0.736 million.
KKR will be relying on this star power to come up with trumps and make a strong proposition in the IPL betting markets.
KOLKATA KNIGHT RIDERS: HISTORY
The Knight Riders have been in the IPL since the competition began in 2008. They have won it twice – in 2012 and 2014. They are therefore one of the first teams to look for in the IPL betting markets.
Kolkata Knight Riders have been one of the most popular IPL outfits because of its star owners and players. Playing since the beginning of IPL in 2008, they had ex-India skipper Sourav Ganguly as their icon player and captain. The team had the likes of Chris Gayle, Ricky Ponting, Brandon McCullum and Ishant Sharma.
Despite having vociferous support at the Eden Gardens, India’s biggest cricket stadium, the team couldn’t make an impression in the first three seasons of the tournament. It finished sixth in 2008, while it was eight and sixth in 2009 and 2010 respectively.
IPL Trophy Wins Under Gautam Gambhir
The change came in 2011 when star India batsman Gautam Gambhir took over the reins from Sourav Ganguly. The team made play-off for the first time and finished fourth. Their wait to maiden title ended in 2012 when they beat hosts Chennai Super Kings in the final.
The team failed to repeat its performance in 2013, but 2014 saw Kolkata rising in the charts again. Playing under Gambhir’s captaincy, they reached final where they meet Kings XI Punjab. In a high-scoring encounter, Kolkata won the title clash by three wickets.
Kolkata missed out on a play-off spot in 2015, but with three consecutive playoff appearances, they proved they were a force to reckon with. Gambhir’s long stint with the team ended in 2018 when he bid adieu to become a politician. Dinesh Karthik took over as captain the same year. Playing under him for the first time, the team finished fifth last season. The team has bolstered its pace department.
Here is a summary of Kolkata Knight Riders’ results since the Indian Premier League began in 2008.
Notable Player Movement
After a 2020 season where they failed to make an impact, KKR released English pair Tom Banton (opening batsman) and Harry Gurney (fast bowler). They also said goodbye to Australian spinning all-rounder Chris Green, who failed to make the same impact in the IPL as he had in the Big Bash.
They brought in Harbhajan Singh, the brilliant former India off-spinner who had been at Mumbai and Chennai in the past. His experience will be invaluable. KKR also bought wicket-keeper batsman Sheldon Jackson and experienced middle-order batter, Karun Nair.
In terms of overseas players, they purchased the excellent Bangladesh all-rounder Shakib Al-Hasan, who had played for KKR in the past. There was also the buying of big Australian all-rounder Ben Cutting, whose accurate bowling and big-hitting give them an extra option.
PROJECTED KOLKATA KNIGHT RIDERS PLAYING XI IN IPL 2021
2. Sunil Narine
3. Nitish Rana
4. Eoin Morgan
5. Andre Russell
6. Dinesh Karthik
7. Rahul Tripathi
8. Patrick Cummins
9. Harbhajan Singh
10. Prasidh Krishna/Kuldeep Yadav
11. Shivam Mavi
KKR: TEAM STRENGTHS
To have one world-class all-rounder on your side is pretty fortunate. But to have two in Andre Russell and Sunil Narine is very fortunate indeed. And if you consider Pat Cummins a decent batsman, which he arguably is, that’s three. That of course gives skipper Morgan a lot of options not just in terms of bowling but how he wants to set up his batting order.
They also have plenty of options in the spin department. Narine, Singh, Yadav, Chakravarthy, and Al-Hasan are all high-class players who bowl different varieties of spin.
KKR: TEAM WEAKNESS
They don’t look great in the pace bowling department. There’s Cummins and Russell (when) fit but then what? They may be forced to play Lockie Ferguson, but which overseas player are they going to sacrifice for him to come in?
WHO ARE THE OWNERS OF KOLKATA KNIGHT RIDERS?
The team is owned by Shahrukh Khan’s Red Chillies Entertainment and actress Juhi Chawla and her spouse Jay Mehta. It was their star power that kept Kolkata at the top of popularity charts for many years at the beginning of the league.
All the owners are highly supportive of the team. They are seen cheering up the team during the matches. It’s the main reason that keeps the team’s morale high. The same zeal can make Kolkata a popular team in the gambling market this year.