Two-time champions and losing finalists of IPL 2021 Kolkata Knight Riders will be hunting for their third trophy in IPL 2022. Let’s look at the best possible XI who can help them win the silverware this year.
Openers: Venkatesh Iyer and Ajinkya Rahane
Not many people knew who Venkatesh Iyer was till he played for KKR in the second leg of IPL 2021, and the rest, as they say, is history. The opener was one of the driving forces behind KKR’s remarkable turnaround in the second half of IPL 2021. The batsman, who plays for Madhya Pradesh in domestic cricket, scored 70 runs in 10 matches at an average of 41.11 and a strike rate of 128.47, and will be looking to carry the form into the 2022 season, for which he was retained by the franchise.
Iyer’s opening partner will likely be Ajinkya Rahane, because Alex Hales pulled out of the tournament and his replacement Aaron Finch is not available to play the first five games of the season. Although Rahane is coming into the tournament on the back of a long lean patch, he has previously done well as an opener for Rajasthan Royals.
Middle-Order: Shreyas Iyer, Nitish Rana, and Sam Billings
The middle order will likely comprise captain Shreyas Iyer, Nitish Rana and wicketkeeper batsman Sheldon Jackson. Iyer is one of the finest T20 batsmen around and he most recently proved it again in the international series against Sri Lanka. The former Delhi Capitals skipper will bat at the important number three slot for KKR and the responsibility of anchoring the innings will rest on him.
Iyer will be followed on the batting line-up by Rana, who has been a consistent performer for KKR the last few years. At number four, he has produced some match-winning knocks for the two-time champions and has also finished the game on a few occasions.
It is not quite certain who will bat at number five, but in all probability it will be England’s Sam Billings, who has kept wickets for his national side unlike the uncapped Sheldon Jackson. It can be noted that Billings does not have enough IPL experience and will be looking to make the most of any opportunity the team will give him.
All-rounders: Andre Russell and Sunil Narine
KKR veteran players, Andre Russell and Sunil Narine have been the two MVPs of the team over the years, and will once again be expected to play crucial roles for the side. Both are great all-rounders who can turn the course of the game with both their batting as well as bowling. Russell will come out at number six, and Narine at number seven.
Bowlers - Shivam Mavi, Tim Southee, Umesh Yadav and Varun Chakravarthy.
KKR have a good mix of bowlers in their ranks, but their pace spearhead Pat Cummins will not be available for the first five games. In that case, the four best possible bowlers in the playing XI will be Shivam Mavi, Tim Southee, Umesh Yadav and Varun Chakravarthy.
Mavi was paid a big amount of money in the mega auction to get back his services. He had performed well last year, picking up 11 wickets in 9 games to help the side make a comeback in the second half of the tournament. It can be noted that Mavi can be used as an all-rounder too, because he has churned out a few batting innings in the IPL.
Tim Southee, Umesh Yadav and Varun Chakravarthy, meanwhile, bring international experience with them and are likely to be a part of the XI regularly. Mavi may have to sit out once Cummins returns.