Kolkata Knight Riders had the minimum salary cap available at Rs. 10.25 crore (along with Sunrisers Hyderabad) in IPL 2021 auction. The franchisee used the budget well to induct 8 players into their squad. Kolkata Knight Riders bought Bangladesh cricketer Shakib-al-Hasan for Rs. 3.2 crore. This was Kolkata Knight Riders’ biggest deal in IPL 2021 auction. Shakib-al-Hasan was part of Kolkata Knight Riders in the 2012 and 2014 edition when the franchisee won the IPL titles. Kolkata Knight Riders also bought Indian spinner Harbhajan Singh for Rs. 2 crore.
Ben Cutting was Kolkata Knight Riders’ third purchase at Rs. 75 lakh. Batsman Karun Nair and all-rounder Pawan Negi joined KKR at Rs. 50 lakh each. KKR also bought all-rounder Venkatesh Iyer, wicket-keeper Sheldon Jackson and bowler Vaibhav Arora at Rs. 20 lakh each. In the last edition, KKR narrowly missed the chance to enter the playoffs. The team had equal 14 points as that of Royal Challengers Bangalore, but since the latter had a better net run rate, they were able to enter the playoffs. Ahead of IPL 2021 auction, Kolkata Knight Riders released six players out of the team.
Last year, the team tested Sunil Narine as an opening partner for Shubman Gill in the initial games. However, the team changed its strategy as the plan did not work so well. Sunil Narine was not able to provide a quick start to Kolkata Knight Riders as an opener. Sunil Narine has the ability to hit long shots but he could not bat for a longer period which affected KKR’s batting. As the KKR team gears up for IPL 2021, here we will look at the best opening pair for the team.
IPL 2021: Opening Pair Of Kolkata Knight Riders
Shubman Gill and Nitish Rana
A combination of Shubman Gill and Nitish Rana as openers is a great option for Kolkata Knight Riders. Last year, Shubman Gill played as an opener for Kolkata Knight Riders and he was spectacular with the bat. He was the leading run-scorer for Kolkata Knight Riders- scoring 440 runs in 14 innings at an average of 33.84. Gill also smashed 3 half-centuries with the highest score of unbeaten 70*. Gill batted at a decent strike rate of 117+.
Since IPL 2018, the right-handed batsman has played 41 matches for Kolkata Knight Riders. In 38 innings, Gill accounts for 939 runs at an average of 33.5. He has hit 7 fifties for the team and has a great strike rate of 125+. Hence, Gill should continue playing his role of opener for KKR in IPL 2021.
Now talking about Nitish Rana, the 27-year-old cricketer batted at the one-down position at the start of IPL 2020. When Sunil Narine could not give a consistent performance at the opening spot, Rana was sent up the order to open the innings with Shubman Gill. The Nitish Rana and Shubman Gill combination came out as a better option for the opening pair for Kolkata Knight Riders.
In IPL 2020, left-handed batsman Nitish Rana played 14 matches and scored 352 runs. He had a batting average of 25.14 and an amazing strike rate of 138+. He smashed 3 half-centuries with the highest score of 87 runs. Overall, Nitish Rana has played 43 matches for Kolkata Knight Riders.
In 40 innings, he has accumulated 1000 runs at a strike rate of 138+. Rana also has 7 half-centuries to his name. Kolkata Knight Riders do not have many openers to choose from. Hence, Shubman Gill and Nitish Rana are the best opening pair to look out for. The left-hand and right-hand combination will also prove an advantage for Kolkata Knight Riders in IPL 2021.