Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) are all but set to miss out on the services of their regular skipper, Eoin Morgan, for the 2nd phase of the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2021. The England Cricket Board (ECB) has confirmed that it will not allow its players to skip the international season for any other cricket. Hence, England’s T20 players will not land in UAE.
They will also miss Pat Cummins who was a potential replacement for Morgan for the leadership role. Notably, Morgan took over the reins as the Knight Riders’ captain in the middle of IPL 2020. The KKR team management will again have to search for a perfect leader for the squad.
In this article, let’s take a look at three KKR players who can be potential leaders for the 2012 and 2014 champions:
1. Dinesh Karthik
Dinesh Karthik will be the first name that strikes in the mind of the management as the Tamil Nadu born-player led the Kolkata Knight Riders for two and a half seasons. Karthik joined KKR in the 2018 edition and was handed the responsibility of captaining the side. That year, he was able to take the side to the playoffs. In 2019, he was not able to lead the side properly as they missed out on a playoff berth finishing the league phase on the fifth position.
Karthik won four out of his first seven games in IPL 2020 as captain before he was replaced as captain by Eoin Morgan. Though the 35-year-old struggled for runs in 2020, he has fared slightly better this year in seven games, striking at 138.20 and averaging 30.75. Karthik appointment as captain by axing Eoin Morgan also means that Kolkata has an extra slot to either play an extra batter in Tim Seifert or a bowler in Lockie Ferguson.
2. Shubman Gill
Kolkata Knight Riders made a long-term investment in 2018 when they picked Shubman Gill for INR 1.8 crores during the auction. The 21-year-old has been in a great form all these years and delivered good results for his side. Gill has a stunning 1071 runs under his belt from 48 games at an average of 30.8 and a strike rate of 124.2.
However, the Vivo IPL 2021 was definitely not his best season. He only managed to score 132 runs in seven games without a half century.
One thing is for sure that Kolkata Knight Riders are unlikely to let go of Gill during the mega-auctions too for IPL 2022. Thus, they can prepare Gill as the future skipper of the franchise by handing him the responsibility early on in his career.
3. Andre Russell
One of the senior players in the KKR camp, Andre Russell is their homegrown talent. He is a regular feature in their playing XI. He leads the Jamaica Tallawahs in the CPL and there is no reason why he cannot lead KKR in IPL 2021.
Kolkata Knight Riders have invested in him hugely and also retained him despite Russell being banned for a year in 2016/17.
Russell had a dream run in IPL 2019 for the side where he hit more than 50 sixes in the season and scoring over 500 runs. However, he had a forgetful stint in IPL 2020 where he scored 117 runs in 10 games while picking just six wickets.
This year he had had a better outing in the first seven games for KKR. He has scored 163 runs from seven games including a half-century against Chennai Super Kings. He also took seven wickets so far in the season including a fifer against Mumbai Indians.