The Kolkata Knight Riders fans are a passionate Bengali lot. And as IPL 2021 is all set to begin, fans will be hoping that Eoin Morgan can concoct some of the spells that Gautam Gambhir was able to cast on the franchise during his tenure as leader.
The World Cup-winning English captain was appointed as skipper mid-season in IPL 2020 – a surprising and drastic move instigated by Dinesh Karthik.
The two-time IPL champions will undoubtedly be looking for consistency this season.
An opening combination constantly in flux, an unstable middle order, and the lack of pyrotechnics from Andre Russell hurt the side's chances in UAE as they failed to qualify to the playoff stages for the second year running.
Though Kolkata Knight Riders have retained most of their personnel this season as well, finding stability and consistency will definitely help their bid to reach the top four in the Indian Premier League this season.
Here's a SWOT analysis on Shah Rukh Khan's knights ahead of IPL 2021:
The 'Strengths' of Kolkata Knight Riders for IPL 2021
Captain Morgan to the rescue
Eoin Morgan has been at the forefront of English cricket over the last five-six years and the results speak for themselves.
Finalists in the 2016 World T20 and 2019 World Cup winners, England are currently ranked first in both the formats where Morgan leads the side.
The 34-year-old is known to trust his men and lives and dies by the sword.
His vision of attacking cricket has transformed England into one of the most entertaining sides in the world and the KKR team management would have their money's worth if Morgan is able to replicate even half the success that he has so carefully carved with his national side.
The left-hander was also in sharp form with the bat last season, scoring 418 runs from 14 innings at an average of 41.80. He also hit the most sixes for KKR and the fifth-highest in the entire season.
The additions of Shakib Al Hasan and Ben Cutting during the IPL 2021 Auction were smart and astute moves.
Shakib Al Hasan can essentially cover for Sunil Narine who has been under fire in recent seasons. Though Shakib Al Hasan returned to international cricket with a bang following his ban induced haitus, it remains to be seen how he performs against some of the toughest players in the world.
Ben Cutting can also prove to be a valuable option in the middle order for KKR.
He has a strike rate of 168.79 in his IPL career, something the team can benefit from when Andre Russell misfires. Besides that, the Man of the Match of the 2016 IPL Final can also contribute with the ball.
A well-ironed pace attack
Kolkata Knight Riders will be buoyed by Prasidh Krishna's recent performances against England.
The Karnataka pacer registered figures of 4 for 54 on his international debut and showed remarkable grit and composure to bounce back from a horrible opening spell.
Pat Cummins has also had a season to acquaint himself with the squad and a lot would be expected from him this time around.
New Zealand's Lockie Ferguson can also be an important backup option for the franchise with his raw pace and firebrand approach to fast-bowling.
They also have talented youngsters in Shivam Mavi and Kamlesh Nagarkoti waiting in the wings and improving with every season.
The 'Weaknesses' of Kolkata Knight Riders for IPL 2021
It's an area they used to shine in, but Kolkata Knight Riders have been severely depleted in the spin department over the last few years, despite captain Morgan suggesting otherwise.
Kuldeep Yadav is no longer the player he used to be and Sunil Narine, winner of two IPL MVP awards and mastermind behind their two IPL triuphs has constantly been under the scanner for his bowling action.
Varun Chakravarthy became a revelation last season and provided the team with much-needed breakthroughs.
He went on to finish with 17 wickets, the highest for KKR. However, following a successful IPL season, Varun's fitness came under the scanner and he has struggled with that lately.
The 'Opportunities' for Kolkata Knight Riders in IPL 2021
Dinesh Karthik gave up the captaincy last season in order to focus on his batting. Should he get his act together, he can prove to be a valuable middle-order batsman this season.
Andre Russell had a relatively quiet season in UAE where he struggled to find his footing.
The memories of IPL 2019 haven't been lost on anyone and if KKR's biggest match-winner turns up this season, he can single-handedly take them to the playoffs.
Kolkata Knight Riders will be playing a lot of matches in Chennai and Bengaluru and Dre Russ will be raring to flex his muscles on those grounds.
Meanwhile, new recruits Shakib Al Hasan and Harbhajan Singh, both of whom haven't played a lot of cricket recently will be itching to make an immediate impact and make the most of the limited opportunities that they will provided with.
The 'Threats' that Kolkata Knight Riders must be wary of in IPL 2021
Shubman Gill, who massively impressed on his India debut during the tour of Australia attracted scrutiny owing to his inconsistent run in the home series against England.
Gill usually takes a while to find his footing before looking for the gaps. That leaves Kolkata Knight Riders much to desire at the top of the batting order.
The Eoin Morgan led side would like to avoid needless extra pressure on the middle-order and finding a proper opening combination would be the first step towards that.
Shubman Gill, on his part, should also focus on playing with a more attacking intent this season.
All said and done, Kolkata Knight Riders must envision the process under Eoin Morgan this season and make sure they trust and work on it in order to find consistency.
The results will follow as long as the process is true.
While winning the IPL might be a bit imaginative, they're better placed this season than the last one. If they do manage to qualify for the playoffs, KKR might find a way to inch closer to their third trophy after a gap of 7 years.
Stranger things have happened in the IPL. And the ardent Bangla-fan will continue to believe.