Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) proved to be the surprise package in the IPL 2018 auction.
KKR spent their entire auction purse and picked just 19 members in their squad and will have the least no. of players in the IPL 2018 at their disposal. KKR retained Sunil Narine and Andre Russell during the pre-auction retention. What came as a shock was that Kolkata Knight Riders decided to part ways with their two time IPL winning captain Gautam Gambhir.
During the auction, KKR went hard to buy two players in the auction. They got Chris Lynn in the auction and used their RTM cards on getting back Robin Uthappa, Piyush Chawla and Kuldeep Yadav. Some of the other big picks for KKR were Dinesh Karthik, Mitchell Johnson, and Mitchell Starc.
They also invested heavily in uncapped and U19 Indian stars like Kamlesh Nagarkoti, Shubman Gill, Shivam Mavi and Ishank Jaggi. They also bought Nitish Rana, who made quite a noise while playing for Mumbai Indians in IPL 2016 and 2017. They however have also bought a backup for Chris Lynn in South African Cameron Delport.
However, despite having some good names in their squad, Kolkata have missed 2-3 big things. They don’t have any experienced Indian fast bowler, who bowls out and out fast. This due to the reason that their two foreign speedsters in Starc might miss some part of the tournament and Johnson isn’t exactly in red hot form.
Secondly, they missed buying 1-2 experienced Indian batsmen in the middle order. With Manish Pandey bought by SRH and Suryakumar Yadav going to Mumbai; players like Rinku Singh, Apoorv Wankhede and Ishank Jaggi might fall short on experience. Shubman Gill is yet to play any T20 game in domestic cricket and opening at such a big platform may intimidate him.
The last but not the least is the problem of who will captain the side. They have three candidates in R Vinay Kumar, who has led Karnataka wonderfully in last few seasons; Robin Uthappa who has limited captaincy experience and Dinesh Karthik, who has led Delhi Daredevils in IPL previously.
They will need to find some balance in their playing XI. Chris Lynn will definitely open for KKR, along with Shubman Gill. Dinesh Karthik and Robin Uthappa, along with Nitish Rana will form the middle order and either Rinku Singh or Apoorv Wankhede might be used as finisher along with Andre Russell.
The newly re-laid pitch at the Eden Gardens which has aided the fast bowlers will see KKR divert from their spin heavy attack in the past. The spin will be handled by Sunil Narine and one of Kuldeep Yadav or Piyush Chawla.
The quick bowling duties will be handled by the two Australians in Mitchell Johnson and Mitchell Starc, along with either Nagarkoti or Mavi.
Possible playing XI:
Shubman Gill, Chris Lynn, Dinesh Karthik (C-WK), Robin Uthappa, Nitish Rana, Sunil Narine, Piyush Chawla, Andre Russell, Kuldeep Yadav, Mitchell Starc, Kamlesh Nagarkoti