Indian T20 League 2021 will kick start from April and Kolkata is the full set in the search of a third title. The franchise last won the title in 2014 when Kolkata defeated Punjab in the final. Since then, Kolkata changed its captain twice. Gautam Gambhir is still the successful captain of the franchise who led the side to two titles. Dinesh Karthik was appointed a new skipper but he failed to replicate his glory. The management surprised everyone when they changed their skipper midway through the season. The World Cup-winning captain Eoin Morgan is now the current skipper of Kolkata and the Englishman will lead the side for an entire season of 2021.
It’s been 7 years since Kolkata won the title and the downfall of this franchise raises questions as they had quality players like Andre Russell and Sunil Narine who are still part of the squad. Brendon McCullum is also head coach of the Caribbean Franchise and Trinbago recently won another title in Caribbean T20 League. The former New Zealand international will look to end this title drought.
Performance in last three seasons:
Kolkata’s performance in the last three seasons is pretty decent but they failed at the last moment. In 2018, they made into the playoffs but lost to Hyderabad in Qualifier 2. In 2019, Andre Russell was at his peak and played some tremendous knocks but the team failed to reach the playoffs. Season 2020 started on a good note and at the midway of the season, they were the main contenders to crack playoffs but they missed out the train due to NRR.
Team after auction 2021
Mini-auction in February gave Kolkata management to boost their side ahead of the new season and they picked some quality players, considering the matches will be held in India. Kolkata picked two prominent all-rounders like Shakib and Ben Cutting. Shakib was also part of the winning squad of Kolkata in 2012 and Ben Cutting has been terrific in the recently concluded Australia T20 League 2020-21. They bought Harbhajan Singh who might be handy on Indian pitches. Karun Nair was another best pick in Indian players who will be a reliable player in middle-order and they also went for two decent T20 players Pawan Negi and Sheldon Jackson. They also showed interest in two young players Venkatesh Iyer, and Vaibhav Arora. They could have gone for an Indian pacer to fulfill their squad. Their Indian pace squad is filled with uncapped pacers.
Here’s the full squad for Indian T20 League 2021:
Eoin Morgan (capt), Andre Russell, Ben Cutting, Dinesh Karthik, Harbhajan Singh, Kamlesh Nagarkoti, Karun Nair, Kuldeep Yadav, Lockie Ferguson, Nitish Rana, Pat Cummins, Pawan Negi, Prasidh Krishna, Rahul Tripathi, Rinku Singh, Sandeep Warrier, Shakib Al Hasan, Sheldon Jackson, Shivam Mavi, Shubman Gill, Sunil Narine, Tim Seifert, Vaibhav Arora, Varun Chakravarthy, Venkatesh Iyer, Gurkeerat Singh
How overseas players stand for Kolkata
Overseas players play an important role to find success in Indian T20 League. Kolkata had a history of quality overseas players. They had two T20 powerhouses Andre Russell and Sunil Narine from West Indies who can change the game with both bat and ball. They have the skipper who is currently the best middle-order T20 batsman in the world. He can construct the innings, guide it and accelerate according to the situation. Pat Cummins will be the leader in pace-attack and he showed his skill in batting last season. Lockie Ferguson missed out first few matches and later, delivered a class bowling show. Shakib is the notable buy of the season for Kolkata. He might replace struggling Narine and provide depth with batting and bowing. Ben Cutting can be a good replacement for injured Russell when management requires. Tim Seifert is currently the top-scorer for New Zealand in shorter-format and Kolkata can also look at him to bat in the opening slot.
How the Indian players stand for Kolkata
Dinesh Karthik is the only big name in Indian players and he will have the big responsibility to perform at lower-order. Shubhman Gill has been a standout performer in the last two seasons and after earning the debut in the national squad, he is in top form. He can offer a good start to Kolkata and the management has to find a proper partner with him who can charge the innings. Karun Nair was picked in the auction and he can do what Manish Pandey did for Kolkata before 2018. He is a possible pick in middle-order. Nitish Rana had two-three good knocks in the last two seasons but he will be a key player in top-order. Varun Chakravarthy stunned everyone in the previous season and he will be the main spinner of this side along with Kuldeep Yadav. Kolkata required experience in spin and Harbhajan Singh can solve this problem. The Indian pace-attack will also have a big responsibility. Sandeep Warrier, Nagarkoti, and Prasidh Krishna are the main seamers who will be rotated according to the pitch and their performances. Newly-picked Vaibhav Arora might be a good pick as an all-rounder. Sheldon Jackson and Pawan Negi had good numbers in the domestic circuit.
Weakness of Kolkata and how they can overcome these
Kolkata struggled a lot when they miss out the fire from Karthik and Russell. After the season 2019, injury hurt Russell’s form and management picked Ben Cutting to change this pattern. Middle-order is also a big concern which was inconsistent last two seasons. Kolkata couldn’t decide who will play at what position. In 2020, Morgan and Karthik were playing a musical chair and Kolkata was suffering at the table. Noone forget one match when Cummins and Morgan rescued Kolkata from a horrible batting collapse. Seifert can also replace Karthik and New Zealander can open with Gill. Kolkata cannot go with Narine who plays one or two good knocks at the top and puts pressure on middle-order. Cummins and Ferguson both are the main seamers for Kolkata but in this case, they find only two slots in overseas picks. Kolkata has to look at these two-seamers as the regular players like Mumbai did with Boult and Bumrah and Delhi did with Rabada and Nortje.
Pitch command as per the new schedule
Kolkata will not play at Eden Gardens as per the new schedule and it will slightly hurt their goals as Kolkata has a good record at Eden. The home advantage is missing for them and they have to pick players according to the pitch. Kolkata will play in Chennai, Mumbai, Ahmedabad, and Bangalore. They can take advantage of spin at Chennai and Ahmedabad. 7 matches out of 14 will be played at the slow-tracks.
Rahul Tripathi, Shubhman Gill, Nitish Rana, Dinesh Karthik, Eoin Morgan (C), Shakib Al Hasan, Andre Russell, Pat Cummins, Varun Chakravarthy, Prasidh Krishna, Shivam Mavi