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Can Eoin Morgan lead Team Kolkata to a play-off finish in Indian T20 League 2021?

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With the Indian T20 League being held outside the familiar conditions of India owing to the global pandemic, numerous franchises had been thrown off gear and that included Team Kolkata. Though the two-time title winners missed the playoffs by a whisker – owing to their inferior run-rate - team Kolkata could never find consistency throughout the season.

However, the topsy-turvy 2020 season helped the side iron out their flaws for the future. Under the new guidance of Brendon McCullum and the experienced captaincy of Eoin Morgan the team finally looked to be on the way up when their campaign concluded.

The management has, quite surprisingly, decided to retain several misfiring candidates from last season, thereby hinting at the fact that last season was perceived as an anomaly.

Team Kolkata squad 2021

With the mega-auction postponed by a year owing to the global pandemic, the team released just five players and retained 17 going into the 2021 auction. With a purse of Rs 10.85 crore in their wallet, the Eoin Morgan-led side decided to get in the experienced campaigners likes Ben Cutting (75 lakhs), Shakib-al-Hasan (Rs 3.2 crores), Harbhajan Singh (Rs 2 crores) and more.

Team Kolkata Full Squad: Eoin Morgan (C), Dinesh Karthik (wicket-keeper), Nitish Rana, Shubman Gill, Rinku Singh, Rahul Tripathi, Kamlesh Nagarkoti, Kuldeep Yadav, Lockie Ferguson, Pat Cummins, Prasidh Krishna, Sandeep Warrier, Shivam Mavi, Varun Chakravarthy, Andre Russell, Sunil Narine, Tim Seifert, Shakib Al Hasan, Sheldon Jackson, Vaibhav Arora, Karun Nair, Harbhajan Singh, Ben Cutting, Pawan Negi, Venkatesh Iyer.

Strengths & Weaknesses

Quite visibly, Team Kolkata’s strength lies in their batting. Though the side does not boast of proven openers in Shubman Gill, Rahul Tripathi or Nitish Rana, it is their world-class middle-order that can change any game. In the likes of Morgan, Andre Russell, Dinesh Karthik, Shakib-Al-Hasan and Pat Cummins, Team Kolkata has a spine many Indian T20 League franchises would envy.

However, Kolkata failed to address the one issue that has been bothering them for quite some time now – bowling. With Pat Cummins and Lockie Ferguson as their strike bowler, Kolkata have struggled to provide them with Indian support through Shivam Mavi, Kamlesh Nagarkoti or Prasidh Krishna. Though Sunil Narine and Varun Chakravarthy have steadied the ship in most cases, Morgan would be hoping his young speedsters to rise to the occasion this time.

Who can be the highest run-scorer for Team Kolkata?

Like last season, Shubman Gill stands the best chance of becoming Team Kolkata’s top run-scorer. The young opener had ended the 2020 season with an impressive 440 runs in 14 matches. The variety of shots up his artillery allows the management to let Gill take his time as he plays big in most matches, while the hard hitters revolve around him.

Who can be the highest wicket-taker for Team Kolkata?

While Kolkata fans would be excited to see their mystery spinner Varun Chakravarthy take the field in purple colours once again, it is speedster Lockie Ferguson who is expected to be the wrecker-in-chief for the side. The Kiwi pacer had played just five matches last season, proving to be a solid impact player for Morgan, and he will be raring to go this time as well.

Where will Team Kolkata finish in Indian T20 League 2021?

Team Kolkata had the perfect blend of youth and experience in the squad for quite some years now, and they needed title winners as the missing piece of the puzzle – something the buy of Shakib-Al-Hasan and Harbhajan Singh brings to the table. However, the new players will take time to gel in and a late surge in consistency is expected to see Team Kolkata finishing fourth in the league stages.

Feature Image Courtesy: Kolkata Knight Riders

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