The Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) will start their IPL 2023 campaign without the services of their skipper Shreyas Iyer who will miss the entirety of the lucrative tournament due to his recurring back injury. Iyer is expected to be out for a good period of about 5 months and this rules him effectively of not only IPL but also the subsequent WTC Final by the look of things.
This means they need to not only look for a replacement skipper while Iyer is unavailable and also have the monumental task of finding an ideal replacement for Iyer the batsman. KKR do have some local Indian batting talent at their disposal but the international experience that the right-hander brings will definitely be missed this season.
The Knight Riders would ideally want the likes of Nitish Rana, Venkatesh Iyer, and overseas pros such as Andre Russell, and Sunil Narine to step up during different times in the season. They didn’t have the best of IPL’s last year where they failed to reach the playoffs and will like to put their best foot forward despite having a depleted squad.
Let us look at the complete KKR squad and their probable playing XI in the team’s first game against the Punjab Kings at the IS Bindra Stadium in Mohali on April 1st, 2023.
Kolkata Knight Riders Squad (IPL 2023): Nitish Rana, Rahmanullah Gurbaz, Venkatesh Iyer, Andre Russell, Sunil Narine, Shardul Thakur, Lockie Ferguson, Umesh Yadav, Tim Southee, Harshit Rana, Varun Chakravarthy, Anukul Roy, Rinku Singh, Narayan Jagadeesan, Vaibhav Arora, Suyash Sharma, David Weise, Kulwant Khejrolia, Mandeep Singh, Litton Das, Shakib Al Hasan.
Predicted Starting XI for KKR in IPL 2023
Openers: Venkatesh Iyer, Narayan Jagadeesan/Litton Das
Venkatesh Iyer has become a certainty in the KKR playing XI over the past couple of seasons for the KKR and the reason being his attacking nature at the top of the batting order. He had a dream start to his IPL career in 2021 where he amassed 370 runs in 10 innings at 41.11 but a really poor 2nd outing in the last edition.
He is likely to be partnered by either Narayan Jagadeesan who holds the record of having the highest List A score or the Bangladeshi opener Liton Das who has been a revelation in international cricket this past year or so. Liton however is yet to make his IPL debut.
Jagadeesan on the other hand has been let go by the CSK franchise and by the looks of things, he might get a solid run at the top of the order with the KKR.
Middle-order: Nitish Rana, Rinku Singh, Mandeep Singh
Nitish Rana has been a consistent performer for the KKR team in the last few years regularly churning out 300+ runs in each of his last 6 seasons in the IPL and at a fair clip as well. This season, Rana has an even bigger role to play in the absence of Shreyas in the middle order. Veteran IPL batsman Mandeep Singh was picked at the auctions by the KKR and most likely come in place of Iyer in the batting order. Having played more than 100 IPL games for various teams, Mandeep will be eager to show his prowess at this level.
Rinku Singh is another exciting talent going around in the domestic circuit and was impressive in the limited game time he had in the previous edition of the Knight Riders. In the last season, Rinku scored 174 runs in 7 innings at a strike rate of 148 and KKR will want to maximize his usage.
All-rounders: Andre Russell, Sunil Narine, Shardul Thakur
Coming to the all-rounders, KKR really has some match-winners in this section. Andre Russell and Narine have won numerous games for KKR with both bat & ball and the KKR management will desperately want them to fit for the whole season. While Russell has scored a tad over 2000 runs at a staggering strike rate of 177 and has taken 89 wickets in 98 IPL games, Narine has 152 scalps to kitty to go with his 1025 runs in IPL.
There will be a lot of hope for this duo to perform in all departments of the game from the KKR management as they have been a pillar of strength for the team over the seasons gone by. It might not be a surprise if one of them gets to lead the side in the absence of the regular skipper Shreyas Iyer.
Shardul Thakur is the newest addition to the KKR squad and he is a great utility bowler who can bowl in any given situation. Overall this trio makes KKR a balanced unit.
Bowlers: Tim Southee, Varun Chakravarthy, Lockie Ferguson/Umesh Yadav
Selections with regard to the KKR bowling department might prove to be tricky as they can go with an Indian-overseas pacer combo in Ferguson and Umesh Yadav or go in with 2 Kiwi pacers in Southee-Ferguson. But the spinner spot will likely go to the mystery exponent Varun Charavarthy.
Tim Southee is the highest wicket-taker in the T20I format and will definitely be among the leadership group of KKR it could very well be a toss-up between Yadav and Ferguson depending on the team combinations.
Kolkata Probable Playing XI: Venkatesh Iyer, Narayan Jagadeesan/Liton Das, Nitish Rana, Rinku Singh, Mandeep Singh, Andre Russell, Sunil Narine, Shardul Thakur, Tim Southee, Varun Chakravarthy, Lockie Ferguson/Umesh Yadav