KKR kickstart their IPL season, takes on defending champions Mumbai Indians

Last Modified Wednesday, 23 September 2020 (18:23 IST)
Abu Dhabi:Two-time winners (KKR) will kickstart their Indian Premier League (IPL) season, taking on defending champions (MI) at the in on Wednesday.
While will be eager to make a winning start to the season, will be out to prove a point as well.The Rohit Sharma-led unit had lost the season opener against Chennai Super Kings, following Ambati Rayudu and Faf du Plessis' solid performances with the bat.However, if MI manage to return to winning ways against KKR, it will be their first win at this venue. 
 
Andre Russell versus Kieron Pollard. Eoin Morgan versus Hardik Pandya. Add to this mix,Dinesh Karthik, Quinton de Kock, Rohit Sharma, Sunil Narine. The bowlers from both the sides will have their task cut out.
 
While MI lost their first game of the tournament, that could just be a blip. The quality of players the four-time champions possess is enviable.KKR, on the other hand, have bolstered their squad, bringing in the likes Morgan, Tom Banton, Pat Cummins. There is enough quality that both the sides have to offer.
 
Andre Russell has the highest IPL strike rate (186.41) for a batsman and clears the fence quite often. He was KKR's leading run-getter in IPL 2019 and hammered as many as 52 sixes in 14 matches and will be eager to have an encore. KKR will be chuffed if he gets into the groove from the first game of 2020.
 
While Quinton de Kock could not score a fifty in MI's opening game, Quinton de Kock's breezy 33 was a sign that the wicketkeeper-batsman, who opens the batting, is in a good nick. The left-hander does not shy away from playing his shots, and as MI seek a win, de Kock's solid presence at the top is vital.
 
Shubman Gill, who is a delight to watch with the bat in hand, possesses the batting approach which is high on style and elegance. The youngster is likely to open the batting for KKR and if he gets going, it will lay a solid platform for the big hitters that will be a part of KKR's batting      
Speed, skill, accuracy, adaptability and experience.

Pat Cummins, who is one of the finest pacers going around, is expected to spearhead KKR's bowling unit this season. While the tracks in the UAE may not offer the pace the tracks in Australia may offer, Cummins, in the past, has always shown willingness to find ways to scalp wickets. If he fires, KKR become an even more dangerous proposition for the opposition.
 
Distance to the boundary ropes has hardly ever bothered the big-hitting West Indian Kieron Pollard. While he got out for 18 in the first game against CSK, Pollard will be out to make a point one more time in the MI colours as the team seeks to seal their first win of IPL 2020.
While injuries meant that Kamlesh Nagarkoti hardly played any cricket after being brought into the KKR squad in the year where he, along with his KKR teammate Gill and Shivam Mavi, powered India to the ICC Under 19 World Cup triumph in 2018. However, this time around, he is fit and raring to go.
 
KKR at this venue: Played 3, Won 1, Lost 2
MI at this venue: Played 2, Lost 2
 
If Kieron Pollard plays, this will be his150th IPL gamenRohit Sharma needs 90 runs to complete 5000 IPL runsnQuinton de Kock and Andre Russell need 11 and 100 runs respectively to complete 1500 IPL runs.
 
Mamata wishes KKR & Shah Rukh Khan as they begin their IPL campaign

Kolkata: West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Wednesday wished Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) and their owner Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan (@iamsrk) as they begin their IPL campaign
     
"My best wishes to @KKRiders & dearest @iamsrk as they begin their IPL campaign. #KKRHaiTaiyaar," Ms Banerjee posted on her social networking page."Korbo, Lorbo, Jeetbo  has already been India's spirit in 2020, fighting crises without breaking a sweat. Another set of champions hit the field today, trying to bring joy to every home.." she added.
 
Two-time winners Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) will kickstart their Indian Premier League (IPL) season, taking on defending champions Mumbai Indians (MI) at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi this evening.
       
Mumbai have already lost their opening game against Chennai Super Kings and will belooking to make amends. Even though KKR's head-to-head record against the defending champions hasn't been great so far, with KKR winning only 6 games out of 25, skipper Dinesh Karthik sounded pretty confident ahead of the encounter.
       
"It's good that we are playing them early in the tournament. They are a solid side and their record speaks for themselves. But every year is a fresh year and we are two good teams.I am sure it will be a great game for us," said the skipper.
     
KKR, at this moment, is spoilt for choices to make their starting 11, with a pool of talented youngsters raring to make their mark.Karthik insisted that one of the biggest strengths of KKR this year has been the variety in the fast bowling ranks.
       
"All four of our Indian pacers are shaping up well. It's going to be a hard decision to decide who is going to start. But I think they are pretty much confident of their skillsets," Karthik said.
     
"The other day Brendon McCullum and I were discussing that one of the tough points for KKR at this time is picking the right 11. I think a lot of guys have put their hands up and are ready for selection. It's going to be a tough one (selection) but that's a good sign for a goodteam," he  added.
 
McCullum, who joined the training sessions at Abu Dhabi late last week, believed the UAE pitches would be quite helpful for fast bowlers as most of the wickets haven't been used in months. 

"I think the conditions here are pretty similar to Eden Gardens, at least for the first few games. The pitches haven't been really utilised here and we see a fresh tinge in them," he pointed.
 
Talking about the Big hitter Andre Russell, McCullum said, "We all know his batting prowess and what he is able to do in T20 cricket. Specifically, what he did for KKR in the past is nothing short of sensational. His ability to bowl in crunch situations is a greatopportunity for us."
     
Even though a lot of questions are being raised as to who all would be assisting Pat Cummins, the batting order seemed to be quite sorted.Karthik hinted at going ahead with the opening pair of Shubman Gill and Sunil Narine.
     
"I like the no-complicated batting style of Narine which makes things easy for us. Shubman is a quality player and I am sure he will exceed all expectations," added the captain.
     
For Mumbai, the opening pair of Rohit Sharma and Quinton de Cock started really well against CSK. But the middle order, barring Saurabh Tiwary, couldn't really live up to the expectations. While their lead strike bowler Trent Boult had a moderate outing (1/23) against the Chennai side, Jasprit Bumrah's below-par show (1/43) has already raised some concerns in their think-tanks and it will be interesting to see what agenda they set for KKR.
 
As far as KKR's agenda is concerned, Dinesh Karthik summed it up succinctly, "The reason we will be playing this tournament is to put a smile on the face of our fans out there and make them proud!"(UNI)