IPL 2020: Can KKR go the distance this season?
Two-time Indian Premier League (IPL) winners Kolkata Knight Riders open their campaign against Mumbai Indians in match number five of this year's edition in Abu Dhabi. KKR last won the tournament in 2014 and since then have reached the playoffs thrice. However, they haven't taken their game further to challenge for the trophy. Can KKR go the distance this season? We analyze the same.
Last season, KKR finished a disappointing fifth, despite a flourish from Andre Russell. This time, the eastern giants cannot just depend of Russell's heroics. They need an overall approach to be more consistent. The likes of Eoin Morgan and Pat Cummins add the decisive firepower, however, it's the Indian players that need to come out and compliment the side well.
Last season, KKR claimed just 56 wickets in total (fewest). This is an area the side needs to address. The Indian contingent in the pace department will hold the key. KKR have some interesting options but overall the quartet lacks experience. Spinner Kuldeep Yadav was dismal last season. He needs to find his groove from the start. Varun Chakravarthy's role will be crucial.
KKR are contemplating in moving Russell up the order. This would boost the side. With Dinesh Karthik and Morgan in the middle order, KKR have the desired muscle. All three have notable strike-rates especially at the death. Sunil Narine can set the base upfront with his expensive strokes. Shubman Gill and Nitish Rana will hope to build the play and bat long.
KKR will be playing eight of their league games in Abu Dhabi. The long boundaries and sluggish tracks will be challenging. They will need to work themselves around. If Russell suffers an injury, KKR will be in trouble. The bench strength as far the Indian batsmen are concerned, lack the firepower. There are question marks too over the team's ability to claim wickets.
It will be difficult for KKR to go all the way this season. Teams like MI, Delhi Capitals and Chennai Super Kings are better in terms of resources and look more composed. KKR need to reach the playoffs and see how things shape up.