After an impressive 9-wicket victory against Royal Challengers Bangalore, Eoin Morgan-led Kolkata Knight Riders will aim to continue the momentum when they face Rohit Sharma’s Mumbai Indians on Thursday in Abu Dhabi. While they would not want to tinker with their winning combination, the question is whether the KKR team management gives a chance to Shakib Al Hasan in place of Sunil Narine as Kuldeep Yadav is expected to remain out of Playing XI.
The Bangladesh all-rounder was in good bowling form in the home T20I series against Australia and New Zealand, scalping 11 wickets in nine matches. He had an economy rate of 6.45 against Australia and 5.50 against New Zealand with the best figures of 4/9.
As the Sheikh Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi has a little assistance for spinners — a similar surface to where Bangladesh played — Shakib Al Hasan could be an extremely effective weapon. As for Sunil Narine, although he bowled well, he didn’t get any wickets. In Phase 1, he scored only 10 runs in five innings and bagged three wickets. Shakib on the other hand gave away far too many runs.
However, the pitches have changed and so have bowlers. Shakib Al Hasan with better batting ability could be invaluable for the KKR batting lineup, giving further depth to the already solid lineup. As for Sunil Narine, he was impressive against Royal Challengers Bangalore but he has a poor batting record this season. He has scored just 6 runs in five matches.
Shakib Al Hasan: The Bangladesh all-rounder has had a decent season since the IPL 2021.
- Since IPL Phase 1, he has bagged 14 wickets in 12 matches with an economy rate of 6.27 and an average of 21.35.
- However, it’s his batting is of worry. In 14 matches, he has scored only 196 at an average of 17.81.
- However, amongst the two, Shakib Al Hasan is a better batsman and with a slow Abu Dhabi wicket, he could be used.
Sunil Narine: The West Indies bowling all-rounder had a bad run in IPL with the bat but he has done fairly with ball.
- So far in 6 matches, Sunil Narine has scored only 10 runs in 5 matches and has failed to provide the batting depth that he once did.
- With the ball, he has scalped three wickets but has managed an economy rate of just 6.60.
- However, the problem is Sunil Narine is considered KKR’s wicket-taking bowler and not just a spinner who holds the end and restrict scoring.
- KKR have missed the wicket-taking Sunil Narine. In the match against RCB, Narine returned figures of 0/20 in four overs.
As for other positions, Shubman Gill and debutant Venkatesh Iyer did exceptionally well. Shubman Gill has seemed to find his form back after bowing out of the England series due to a stress fracture on the left shin.
Even Tim Southee’s KKR debut will have to wait. Lockie Fergusen was in fine form and his batting will give KKR further depth in the batting. The other Indian spinner Varun Chakravarthy did exceptionally well and was the man of the match, shutting the door on Kuldeep Yadav.
Is there a place for Kuldeep Yadav?
The answer is short is no. With Sunil Narine in the Playing XI and so is Nitish Rana, KKR have three spinners including Varun Chakravarthy. The Tamil Nadu spinner is currently KKR’s best spinner and won’t sit out while Kuldeep Yadav although did well against Sri Lanka, he doesn’t have KKR’s confidence. His frequent outburst against KKR management and the captain also hasn’t gone down well with the team.
Openers: Shubman Gill & Venkatesh Iyer, No 3: Nitish Rana, No 4: Rahul Tripathi, No 5: Eoin Morgan (c), No 6: Andre Russell, No 7: Dinesh Karthik (wk), No 8: Sunil Narine/ Shakib Al Hasan, No 9: Lockie Ferguson, No 10: Varun Chakravarthy, No 11: Prasidh Krishna