Kolkata Knight Riders Predicted XI vs Punjab Kings, IPL 2023: Will In-Form Rahmanullah Gurbaz Get His Chance?
IPL 2023: Ahead of their first game of the season, here's what we think could be KKR's playing XI against PBKS
Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) kick off their campaign against Punjab Kings (PBKS) in Match 2 of the Indian Premier League on Saturday at the IS Bindra Stadium in Mohali. With captain Shreyas Iyer out for the tournament due to a back injury, stand-in skipper Nitish Rana will have a point or two to prove as he looks to take his team to the playoffs against all odds. While the job won't be an easy one, head coach Chandrakant Pandit's presence could be beneficial for the franchise.
Ahead of their first game of the season, here's what we think could be KKR's playing XI against PBKS:
Rahmanullah Gurbaz: After being drafted to the team from Gujarat Titans, the Afghanistan wicketkeeper-batter will look to get opportunities this time around. Despite hardly played last season, Gurbaz can help KKR in sorting out their top-order issues.
Venkatesh Iyer: Keeping in mind the left-right combination, Venkatesh is likely to open the innings, alongside Gurbaz. After enjoying a breakthrough season in 2021, which saw him break into the Indian side, Venkatesh failed to fire on cylinders last season.
Nitish Rana: He is likely to occupy the no.3 spot, having played a lot of cricket in that very position. Named captain for the season, Rana will have an added responsibility to anchor KKR's innings. His form will be crucial for the two-time champions.
Narayan Jagadeesan: Bought for the sum of Rs 90 lakh, Jagadeesan will look to impress the management and cement his place in the team. Jagadeesan has done well in TNPL and recently owned the world record for highest List A score (277).
Andre Russell: Having been with the franchise for nearly a decade, Russell has seen a lot of ups and downs. After his struggles in 2020 and 2021, Russell regained his magic touch last season, scoring 335 runs and taking 17 wickets. His form could decide KKR's fate this season.
Rinku Singh: After struggling with form initially, Rinku Singh set the stage on fire with his performance during the latter stages of the tournament. The management is likely to keep him the playing XI, as he can also be handy with the ball.
Sunil Narine: The West Indian was the most economical bowler in the tournament last season, conceding just 5.57 runs per over. However, he would look to improve on his tallly of nine wickets from last season.
Shardul Thakur: Traded to KKR from Delhi Capitals, Shardul was one of the top performers with 15 wickets in 14 outings last season. However, his economy rate can be a concern. He is likely to be one of the first names in the team due to his wicket-taking ability and ability to contribute with the bat down the order.
Tim Southee: The veteran pacer will spearhead KKR's bowling unit, and is likely to get the nod in the team ahead of compatriot Lockie Ferguson. Southee played 9 games last season, taking 14 wickets.
Umesh Yadav: He is likely to share the new ball with Southee, having bagged 16 wickets in 12 games last season. He was also economical last season, conceding just 7.06 runs per over.
Varun Chakravarthy: With just six wickets to his name, Varun Chakravarthy had a difficult IPL 2022. However, the management is likely to retain him in the playing XI.