So, do KKR have the ammunition to clinch the championship this time? Here is the SWOT analysis of the franchise:
The biggest strength of the KKR is their newly-appointed captain Shreyas Iyer who is going through the purple patch. In the recent T20I series against Sri Lanka, he smashed 204 runs at a scorching strike-rate of 174.36 in three matches. His performance in the ODIs and Tests has also been spectacular. He has also been the captain of Delhi Captains and led his team to the final in the IPL 2020. His sterling form, coupled with tactical nous, is a major fillip for the KKR.
Also, the lower middle-order of the team comprising of Andre Russell, Sunil Narine and Pat Cummins is fabulously robust. All of them are capable of running amok and accumulating runs at a breakneck clip, which will come in handy during death overs. Their spin bowling department also looks formidable with Narine, Chakravarthy and Mohammad Nabi.
The biggest sore point of the KKR is their pace attack. Apart from Cummins, they don’t have any other reliable fast bowler. There is Tim Southee in the squad but because he is an overseas player, he might not always fit into the playing XI. Umesh Yadav is mostly wayward and has the proclivity to leak runs especially during death overs. KKR have to chalk out a plan for death overs because even Cummins, who is excellent with the new ball, has been taken to the cleaners in death overs in the T20 format.
Another cause of concern for the KKR is that while their lower-middle order is explosive and sturdy, among their top four batsmen, only Iyer has the wherewithal to take bowlers to the cleaners. Other batters take a bit of time to settle in and then start scoring rapidly.
Apart from Sam Billings, KKR doesn’t have a regular wicketkeeper which might be a fly in the ointment. However, there is also an opportunity for Sheldon Jackson to step up and make a mark for himself. The 35-year-old has been a vital cog of the Saurashtra team for almost a decade but hasn’t had his moment in the sun. His domestic T20 record is really good and he will be willing to grab any opportunity that comes his way this season.
This season will also be an opportunity for Shivam Mavi to finally come into his own and hit the top league. He was touted as the upcoming supersonic pacer a couple of years ago but has not measured up to his billing yet. In the absence of potent pacers in the squad, this is his time to make his presence feel.
The biggest threat staring KKR in the face is that their two prominent players – Cummins and Russell – are injury prone. The conundrum becomes even more pronounced by the fact that Cummins is the spearhead of their bowling, and apart from him the team doesn’t have any other world-class pacer. Russell has won KKR a slew of matches in the last three seasons and is arguably their most impactful player. It will be a nightmare for the KKR if either of them get injured.