One of the best in the business in the white-ball format, Morgan took charge of KKR midway through the last edition in the UAE after Dinesh Karthik gave up the post. Despite finishing level on points with Hyderabad and Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) in IPL 2020, Kolkata missed out on the play-offs due to its inferior net run-rate.
So, all eyes will be on Morgan, who would hope to bring back the glory days for KKR. In Shubman Gill, Kolkata has a fantastic young top-order batsman who can shift gears seamlessly. Apart from Gill, Rahul Tripathi, Nitish Rana and Karthik, who is free from the captaincy burden, form the core of the Indian batting.
Skipper Morgan and West Indian all-rounder Andre Russell would be expected to give an explosive finish at the back end. However, it is to be noted that Russell had a torrid time in IPL 2020, averaging just 13 runs in nine innings. Another Caribbean player who failed to impress in the last edition is Sunil Narine. So, it remains to be seen if Narine is preferred to Bangladesh’s Shakib Al Hasan, who was bought at the auction in February. On a slow Chepauk strip, the KKR spin-bowling department, comprising the likes of Harbhajan Singh, Varun Chakravarthy and Kuldeep Yadav among others, will have a major role to play.
The fast-bowling attack is likely to be led by Australian speedster Pat Cummins, who could come up against his compatriot David Warner in the powerplay overs. Captain Warner is a key element of a destructive Hyderabad top-order, which also consists of Jonny Bairstow, Kane Williamson, Wriddhiman Saha and Manish Pandey.
Its middle-order is a bit of a concern, but has been strengthened with the purchase of India international Kedar Jadhav. But, Hyderabad has one of the best bowling line-ups in IPL 2021. The attack will be bolstered by the return of Bhuvneshwar Kumar, who played just four matches in the last season.
Bhuvneshwar will share the fast bowling duties with left-arm pacer Thangarasu Natarajan, while Rashid Khan will continue to be a major threat for his rivals. With quality spinners on both sides, fans can expect the slow bowlers to spin a web around the batters.