Despite Kolkata Knight Riders captain Dinesh Karthik backing Sunil Narine amid his struggle as an opener in Indian Premier League this season, the management opted for a new pair in their fifth game this tournament against Chennai Super Kings at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi, promoting Rahul Tripathi to open alongside Shubman Gill.
Narine has scored only 27 runs in four matches as the opener for KKR. In his last nine IPL games, he hasn't crossed 25 even once.
"I haven't thought about it (making the change at the top) but maybe after this game I will sit down with the coaching staff.. We still believe in Narine and whenever he gets going he gets us off to a great start," Karthik had said after KKR's 18-run defeat against Delhi Capitals in Sharjah on Saturday.
But on Wednesday, KKR opted for Tripathi and Shubman Gill as his two openers for the match against CSK. One might feel that Tripathi's 16-ball 36 as a No.8 batsman in the Sharjah game might have played a role in Karthik making the choice. But Tripathi has primarily been an opener in T20 cricket. He has scored 946 runs in 35 T20 innings as an opener at a strike rate of 133.
Tripathi was a revelation as an opener in the 2017 season for Rising Pune Supergiants when he had scored 290 runs in the powerplay at a strike rate of 157.6.
Narine, as per the lineup, is expected to bat at No.3.
Earlier in the evening, KKR won the toss and opted to bat first against CSK.