IPL 2024: Aakash Chopra picks KKR's probable playing XI and impact subs, predicts a playoffs berth

Kolkata Knight Riders will be looking to reclaim the IPL crown after 10 years.

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Kolkata IPL (Photo Source - Twitter/X)

Kolkata Knight Riders will be looking to end their title drought in the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2024. Cricket expert Aakash Chopra picked their probable playing XI and also predicted a run to the playoffs.

Under the captaincy of Gautam Gambhir, the Knights won the title in 2012 and 2014. Since then, they have made it to the finals on only one occasion in 2021 where they lost to Chennai Super Kings. Gambhir has returned to the Kolkata-based franchise as the mentor and he could play an important role in helping them win their third title. Last year, they finished seventh on the points table under Nitish Rana's captaincy. He took up the responsibility of leading the side in the absence of the injured Shreyas Iyer. The Mumbai batter is back at the helm this year and would hope to take his side to glory.

Former India opener Aakash Chopra opined that Kolkata would be opening with either Phil Salt or Rahmanullah Gurbaz. Four other Indian batters - Venkatesh Iyer, Shreyas Iyer, Nitish Rana and Rinku Singh will make up the top five.

"Get Phil Salt to open if you have kept him and he was in good form last year also. You can also open with Rahmanullah Gurbaz instead of Phil Salt. So you are going to have an overseas keeper. Then Venkatesh Iyer, Shreyas Iyer, Nitish Rana and Rinku Singh," Chopra said in a video on his official YouTube channel.

Also Read: 'How will anyone ignore him?' - Aakash Chopra on Shreyas Iyer's T20 WC selection prospects

Chopra put the talismanic all-rounder, Andre Russell, at No. 6. In the bowling department, he reckoned that Kolkata will field three pacers and two spinners.

"Rinku Singh is in amazing form. You can keep Andre Russell at No. 6. You have to keep Sunil Narine as always. After that, Harshit Rana and Mitchell Starc. You can go towards Chetan Sakariya or any other fast bowler, and then Varun Chakaravarthy," Chopra added.

The Impact Player rule was used to good effect by quite a few teams in its maiden appearance last year. The Knights were one of the teams that benefitted nicely from the rule. Suyash Sharma made a mark after being introduced as the Impact sub in some of the matches. In IPL 2024, Chopra reckoned that either Anukul Roy or Suyash would be used as the bowling Impact sub, while Manish Pandey could be the batting Impact sub for the Shahrukh Khan co-owned franchise.

"The team is looking good. They can use Manish Pandey as the Impact Sub, last year they were using Venkatesh Iyer. They can use Anukul Roy or Suyash Sharma," he noted.

The cricketer-turned-commentator was optimistic about Kolkata's chances of making it to the playoffs this year.

This team's strategy will be to play on a turning pitch at home: Aakash Chopra

The 46-year-old felt that the Knight Riders management would ask the curators at the Eden Gardens, Kolkata to prepare turning tracks to suit their spin-heavy bowling line-up.

"They are relying on Indian batting. So they will force the Eden Gardens curator and administration a little to prepare a turning pitch. So this team's strategy will be to play on a turning pitch at home," he said.

Chopra, who is a former Knight Rider himself, said that Iyer and Co. will look to win at least five out of their seven home games. He also felt that Mitchell Starc would be used in short bursts as a wicket-taking option.

Also Read: IPL 2024: Big bucks man Mitchell Starc joins KKR camp in Kolkata

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