Two-time champions Kolkata Knight Riders will resume their UAE campaign with the match against Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) on September 20. The Eoin Morgan-led side is currently sitting seventh on the points table with four points, having won just two games out of seven.
The Kolkata outfit struggled to achieve consistency in the first half and a faltered batting performance led to their slump in the standings. With wins against Sunrisers Hyderabad and Punjab Kings, Kolkata were seeking a revival when the tournament was halted mid-way.
KKR were also the first franchise to report positive COVID-19 cases in their bubble. It was KKR spinner Varun Chakravarthy and seamer Sandeep Warrier, who first tested positive in the middle of the tournament. Later, Tim Seifert and Prasidh Krishna also returned positive results.
With a fresh start in the UAE, coach Brendon McCullum and skipper Morgan will eye a top-four finish in the 14th edition. Nitish Rana has so far been the most effective batsman for KKR, having scored 207 runs in seven innings. Rahul Tripathi has also impressed with 187 runs in seven innings.
The franchise will also expect skipper Morgan, former captain Dinesh Karthik and young star Shubman Gill to fare well with the bat in the second half. West Indies duo of Andre Russell and Sunil Narine and out-of-favour tweaker Kuldeep Yadav will also look to deliver match-winning performances for the franchise.
On the bowling front, Pat Cummins picked nine wickets while Krishna registered eight. Cummins, however, has pulled out of the remaining matches of IPL 2021 citing personal reasons. In the absence of Cummins, Tim Southee is all set to be a part of the KKR squad and spearhead their pace attack. The Kiwi pacer comes with a vast experience of 305 international games and 603 wickets.
A stiff challenge awaits KKR in the UAE, with their first three matches being against three dominant oppositions. After the first hurdle against Bangalore, Morgan's camp will take on defending champions Mumbai Indians (September 23) and three-time IPL winners Chennai Super Kings (September 26).
KKR will then head to Sharjah to face Delhi Capitals on September 28. They will face Punjab Kings (October 1) and Sunrisers Hyderabad (October 3) before locking horns with Rajasthan Royals (October 7) in their last group-stage fixture.
Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) Squad
Eoin Morgan, Dinesh Karthik, Andre Russell, Kamlesh Nagarkoti, Kuldeep Yadav, Lockie Ferguson, Nitish Rana, Prasidh Krishna, Gurkeerat Singh Mann, Sandeep Warrier, Shivam Mavi, Shubman Gill, Sunil Narine, Rahul Tripathi, Varun Chakravarthy, Pawan Negi, Tim Seifert, Shakib al Hasan, Sheldon Jackson, Vaibhav Arora, Karun Nair, Harbhajan Singh, Ben Cutting, Venkatesh Iyer, Tim Southee.
Full schedule of Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR)
|September 20||Kolkata Knight Riders vs Royal Challengers Bangalore||Abu Dhabi||7:30 PM|
|September 23||Kolkata Knight Riders vs Mumbai Indians||Abu Dhabi||7:30 PM|
|September 26||Kolkata Knight Riders vs Chennai Super Kings||Abu Dhabi||3:30 PM|
|September 28||Kolkata Knight Riders vs Delhi Capitals||Sharjah||3:30 PM|
|October 1||Kolkata Knight Riders vs Punjab Kings||Dubai||7:30 PM|
|October 3||Kolkata Knight Riders vs Sunrisers Hyderabad||Dubai||7:30 PM|
|October 7||Kolkata Knight Riders vs Rajasthan Royals||Sharjah||7:30 PM|