Nearly two months of non-stop cricketing action will entertain fans around the globe as the very best from India and some of the biggest overseas stars take centre stage in the UAE.
Here, we look at how 2012 and 2014 champions Kolkata Knight Riders are shaping up for the tournament.
Andre Russell, Dinesh Karthik, Ali Khan, Kamlesh Nagarkoti, Kuldeep Yadav, Lockie Ferguson, Nitish Rana, Prasidh Krishna, Rinku Singh, Sandeep Warrier, Shivam Mavi, Shubman Gill, Siddhesh Lad, Sunil Narine, Pat Cummins, Eoin Morgan, Varun Chakravarti, Tom Banton, Rahul Tripathi, Chris Green, Nikhil Naik, M Siddharth.
CAPTAIN DINESH KARTHIK
As far as captains of the IPL teams go, Dinesh Karthik is arguably the least flashy of the eight names. The veteran wicketkeeper batsman joined the Kolkata franchise in 2018 as a replacement for outgoing skipper Gautam Gambhir.
He might not have been able to lead the side to any titles so far, but Karthik has proven his worth with some tidy displays in the middle-order. Over the years, he has performed a variety of roles as a batsman before finding his true calling as a finisher in the death overs.
With over 3,600 IPL runs under his belt, Karthik brings with him heaps of experience and a calming presence in the middle. However, question marks still remain over his captaincy credentials and KKRs failure to make the play-offs last year has only increased the pressure.
There will be help for Karthik on the leadership front though, with Englands World Cup-winning captain Eoin Morgan also a part of the side for the upcoming edition. Karthiks task for the tournament is crystal clear this time and nothing less than a play-off qualification will do for a side which has not reached the final since 2014.
The familiar comforts of the iconic Eden Gardens wont be available to the Knight Riders this time, and they have quite the task on their hands if they want to improve on their fifth-place finish in 2019.
Karthiks men have been heavily reliant on Andre Russell in the past two editions, with the West Indies all-rounder single-handedly dragging the side to improbable victories. There is no player more explosive than Russell once he gets going and the brute power in his shoulders can spell havoc for any bowler in the competition.
The recruitment of Morgan will further supplement Kolkatas batting firepower and his potential partnership with Russell has all the makings of a destructive duo.
Spin has always been a strong suit for the franchise and the same will be the case in the UAE. Facing Sunil Narine on the slower pitches in the UAEwill not be a pleasant proposition for any batsman, while India wrist spinner Kuldeep Yadav will also relish the conditions on offer.
India youngster Shubman Gill, along with Nitish Rana and Karthik, forge a formidable domestic batting contingent which should mix well with the explosive qualities of Russell, Morgan and Narine.
KKR created quite the buzz in the auctions last year when they snapped up Pat Cummins as the most expensive overseas purchase in IPL history. The Australia fast bowler is no doubt a star attraction, but his nagging lengths would have been a much better fit on the pace-friendly pitch of the Eden Gardens.
His limited-overs showings for Australia have done nothing to warrant the fee shelled out for him and it will be interesting to see how he goes in the slower tracks in the UAE.
The young Indian pace duo of Prasidh Krishna and Kamlesh Nagarkoti should provide sufficient cover to Cummins,while New Zealand express fast bowler Lockie Ferguson is another option to consider for the team.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Domestic Kuldeep Yadav
The sheen seems to have worn off for Kuldeep Yadav after an impressive introduction at international and IPL levels. He had a disastrous campaign for KKR in 2019 and was dropped from the playing XI after picking up just four wickets in nine games.
The IPLs move to the UAE might just be the catalyst that Kuldeep needs to reignite his Kolkata career and he will no doubt be determined to make a splash.
His record at T20 international level is still an impressive one and he has averaged an excellent 13.76 after 21 appearances in the format. Spin will be at the forefront with regards to tactics for all teams in the IPL, and Kuldeep can give KKR the edge if he rediscovers his rhythm.
The southpaw is still only 25 and possesses one of the most deceptive googlies in the business.
Overseas Andre Russell
Kolkata might have loosened their purse strings on some big names in the auction, but no overseas player comes close in value to that of Russell. The Windies mans dodgy knees might cast a major doubt over his ability to bowl four overs of pace, though his batting impact alone makes him the most feared player on the KKR roster.
He was in monstrous form in the previous edition where he maintained an average and strike-rate of 56.66 and 204.81 respectively. Where the team management erred heavily at times was sending in Russell too late in the innings and that ended up costing them a place in the last four.
Sending Russell higher up the order should be the first thing Kolkata do this time, as it allows them to extract the most of his destructive talents. If his performances in the T10 League in the UAE last year are anything to go by, then opposition bowlers could be in for a testing time.
Watching him and Morgan in tandem will certainly get the pulses racing for viewers.
Youngster Shubman Gill
Shubman Gill is poised for a big IPL campaign after some impressive cameos for Kolkata in 2018 and 2019. The 21-year-old prodigy has been earmarked as a future superstar for good reason and he has already been capped at senior level for India earlier this year.
The right-hander has a touch of Virat Kohli about him with the way he approaches his batting, and his on-side strokes certainly pack a punch. He has already scored nearly 500 runs for Kolkata at a decent average of 33.26 and the best is definitely yet to come.
Gill has enjoyed a meteoric rise at every level he has played in, including India U19s, India A and home state Punjab. No longer is he the rookie in the IPL and the 2020 edition could see him finally stamp his authority on the league.
Predicted XI: Sunil Narine, Rahul Tripathi, Shubman Gill, Nitish Rana, Eoin Morgan, Dinesh Karthik (C and WK), Andre Russell, Pat Cummins, Prasidh Krishna, Kuldeep Yadav, Varun Chakravarthy.
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