The 2022 IPL mega-auction was held on February 12 and 13 in Bangalore, after which BCCI management announced that the 15th season of the IPL is scheduled for the end of March. The Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) team participated in the IPL 2022 mega auction while retaining their strongest players such as Andre Russell, Sunil Narine, Varun Chakravarthy, and Venkatesh Iyer.
In the IPL 2022 auction, Kolkata Knight Riders acquired Indian batsmen like Shreyas Iyer, Nitish Rana, and Ajinkya Rahane. These players were priced at 12.25 crore, 8 crore, and 1 crore. Some of the strongest foreign batters were also added to the Kolkata Knight Riders team. They were Alex Hales and Sam Billings. In addition, after letting England captain Eoin Morgan leave the lineup, KKR appointed Shreyas Iyer as the new franchise captain.
Let’s take a closer look at each of the three batters who, along with Venkatesh Iyer, can open KKR’s innings.
№1. Sunil Narine
Sunil Narine revolutionized the T20 with his luxurious power play batting. The uniqueness of his persona was that he chased the bowlers from the start without paying attention to his wicket. As the opener in the IPL, Sunil Narine scored 724 runs with a strikeout rate of 177 and a 20-run batting average for abandonment.
Despite the excellent performance of the game, Sunil Narine’s performances as an opener in the IPL have declined significantly. As fast bowlers already knew Sunil’s style of play, they continued to identify his weaknesses against the short ball, with Sunil Narine ultimately failing to succeed in the first four games of the 2020 season.
Despite this, Sunil had an impressive series of games in the Bangladesh Premier League playoffs, in which he was able to rehabilitate his reputation. After opening the game for the Comilla Victorians, he scored 57 (16) in the semifinals and 57 (23) in the finals. These powerful strikes were highly effective on Bangladeshi wickets at 140-150.
№2. Alex Hales
In the last IPL 2022 auction, the Kolkata Knight Riders team acquired Alex Hales into their lineup for 2 crores. In the shortest format, English opener Alex Hales is one of the most progressive batters. He has 9,371 runs scored in 334 T20 games with a 30 average and a strikeout rate of 146. However, such successful performances were not immediately on the player’s record. Playing for the Sunrisers Hyderabad in 2018, he played just six games. Back then, Alex Hales scored 148 runs at an average of 25 and a strikeout rate of 125.
Alex Hales has been in excellent T20 form over the past few years. He has 2915 runs to his credit for 2020 with an average of 35 and an impressive strikeout rate of 157 runs per 100 balls. That said, his accomplishments include 2 centuries and 16 half-centers in 93 innings.
Alex Hales is trying to prove himself by participating in various T20 leagues around the world. Hales has also participated in the BBL and PSL. In the BBL, he scored 383 runs with a 32-run average and 148 strikeouts, and in the PSL, he scored 255 runs with a 43-run average and 156 strikeouts.
With Alex Hales likely to open KKR innings, a possible lineup could include players such as: Alex Hales, Sunil Narine, Nitish Rana, Venkatesh Iyer, Shreyas Iyer, Sheldon Jackson, Andre Russell, and Pat Cummins.
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№3. Nitish Rana
Kolkata Knight Riders acquired player Nitish Rana into its roster in an IPL mega auction for 8 crores. During the 2018-2021 playing period, Nitish Rana has been one of the most consistent Indian batters. He has 12 appearances on the field in the IPL, where he was able to score 437 points at an average of 36 and a strikeout rate of 134. In addition, his accomplishments include five half-centers.
Nitish Rana’s most productive performance as an opener came against the Delhi Capitals in 2020. Back then, Nitish Rana scored 81(53) after KKR fell to 42/3. His combined game with Narine, where they made 64 off 32 balls, allowed KKR to go 194/6 for 20 overs.
Opening the game, Nitish Rana allows KKR to strengthen the middle line. In addition, Sam Billings, an attacking middle line player, will be able to make the KKR team in place of Sheldon Jackson. If Sunil Narine doesn’t find his form in the IPL and Alex Hales doesn’t play in the upcoming games, Nitish Rana could be the best candidate in KKR’s strategy.