Kolkata Knight Riders boast of a fearsome T20 batting lineup, more so with English limited overs skipper Eoin Morgan joining the team for the upcoming season. A lineup with proper T20 batsmen from 1-7, each of them capable of hitting out of the park with ease, KKR are a side who will be difficult to defend against, just like in the last two seasons. Among the 6 batsmen with more than 100 runs since 2018 and are going to represent KKR this year, 2 have a 180-plus strike rate and none of them have a strike arte below 128.
With such a dominating batting lineup, KKR start as one of the play-off contenders. As we near the much anticipated season to begin, we look at how the KKR batsmen have played against different bowling styles since 2018 and decode their strengths and weaknesses:
- Andre Russell leads the chart in each and every parameter that we have taken into account, except for balls per dismissal, which is not an issue considering the amount of runs he scores in the limited number of balls he faces.
- Shubman Gill has impressive numbers, but with more clarity about his role for the upcoming season, his numbers are only expected to improve, especially the runs per innings. Sunil Narine’s taking on bowlers from one end with Gill’s stroke-play and stability makes them a formidable pair in the powerplays.
- With Eoin Morgan coming in, it will be interesting to see how the KKR lineup will look like, in terms of batting positions. Dinesh Karthik, with a strike rate of 147.25 and scoring nearly 27 runs per innings has been really good while finishing along with Russell.
- Nitish Rana is someone who will be needed to take on spinners in middle overs and his strike rate of 138.76 proves that he is quite capable of that. Rahul Tripathi, most likely to don the number 3 slot, might turn out to be a surprise package.
- While the likes of Russell, Narine and Karthik have hammered the right-arm pacers, almost all of the KKR batsmen except the skipper (who gets out once every 25 balls) get out too often against them.
- Rahul Tripathi, who is most likely to bat in the top 3, has a decent record against right-arm pacers, with a 140-plus strike rate and taking 30 balls per dismissal.
- Shubman Gill and Rinku singh certainly need to improve against right-arm pacers, as they get dismissed too easily against them while not being able to launch the attack on them. With Gill likely to open the innings, he certainly needs to play the right-arm pacers better.
- Sunil Narine and Andre Russell; two of the most destructive batsmen in KKR have scored at a 200-plus strike rate against left-arm pacers. But Narine gets out once in every 7.5 balls while Russell takes 12.5 balls per dismissal, which is something other teams might exploit.
- Apart from these two, all others seem to be comfortable against the left-arm pacers.
- KKR are a side who have been nightmares for off-spinners since 2018. Sunil Narine strikes at 232.61, while 3 others have 180-plus strike rate.
- Narine despite the high strike rate, gets dismissed once every 11.5 balls. Apart from him, no other player has taken below 29 balls per dismissal.
- Skipper Karthik and Nitish Rana have been brutal against the offies, scoring with a 190-plus strike rate and without getting dismissed easily.
- Quite surprisingly, Narine gets out once every 5.6 balls and Russell has a strike rate of just 126 against the left-arm orthodox spinners. Apart from them, almost all regular members from the previous seasons have found the left-arm spinners easy to handle.
- Karthik, Rana and Gill, all three have an excellent strike rate as well as a low dismissal rate. In fact Gill and Rana are yet to be dismissed by left-arm spinners since 2018 despite facing 40-plus balls each.
- The two top-order players Narine and Tripathi have got out too often against the left-arm spinners, something other teams should take a note of.
- KKR have a mixed record against wrist spin. Their batsmen score at a decent pace and the dismissal rate is neither too high nor too low.
- Rana and Karthik, who have been excellent against finger spinners, have found it tough to go after the wrist spinners.
- Russell has been quite comfortable though, and so is Shubman Gill, both scoring at a 135-plus strike rate
Overall, KKR seem to be a side which has done a brilliant job against spin since 2018. They have a side to tackle all kinds of spin; Rana, Karthik and Gill to handle finger spinners, Russell, Karthik and Gill to go after wrist spinners, with Narine being the trump card who can be a boom-or-bust against spinners. Eoin Morgan also is a good player of spin, coming in with superb form. If the options are used wisely, they will be one of the strongest batting units against spin bowling.
Two top-order batsmen have been troubled by left-arm pace, while almost all of them usually get out easily against right-arm pacers; this is something the opposition should use as a tactical measure, instead of feeding spin to the phenomenal batting lineup which gives the false impression of being vulnerable to quality spin.