Kolkata Knight Riders is one of the most profitable and most popular franchises in the IPL in the last decade. The Shah Rukh Khan co-owned team did a massive turn around in 2011; as they decided to revamp their whole squad and went on to win the IPL title twice in 2012 and 2014.
This time too, KKR decided to revamp their squad once again and let go of their most successful captain in Gautam Gambhir. After retaining Andre Russell and Sunil Narine in the pre-auction retention, KKR proceeded to empty their whole purse in the IPL 2018 auction.
KKR bought 19 players in the auction with the likes of Dinesh Karthik, Chris Lynn, Shubman Gill, Mitchell Starc, Mitchell Johnson, Vinay Kumar and used their RTM cards on Piyush Chawla, Robin Uthappa, and Kuldeep Yadav. U19 stars like Kamlesh Nagarkoti and Shivam Mavi too found a buyer in KKR.
Now KKR will be hoping that these 19 players will help them qualify for the playoffs and even win the IPL title for the third time.
Here are 5 players from the squad KKR will depend on to win the IPL 2018:
Sunil Narine took the IPL by storm when he joined KKR in the 2012 edition. He picked up 24 wickets in IPL 2012, 22 wickets in IPL 2013 and 21 wickets in IPL 2014. Thanks to his exploits, KKR won the IPL titles in IPL 2012 and 2014. He has picked up 95 wickets in 82 matches in IPL with a best of 5/19.
In the IPL 2017, KKR found a good use of Sunil Narine as an opener and he responded with 224 runs in 16 matches, making up for his 10 wickets. Narine also scored the fastest fifty in IPL history in just 15 balls. Narine will be a trump card for Kolkata Knight Riders during the IPL 2018.
Mitchell Starc decided to put himself back in the IPL auction after focusing on Australia career and his fitness. Starc played for Royal Challengers Bangalore in IPL 2014 and 2015, picking a total of 34 wickets in 27 matches.
Starc was bought by KKR in IPL 2018 for Rs 9.4 cr, as they were looking for a strike bowler to serve them in the new season of IPL. They will definitely hope that Starc is fit for the whole season, as their other bowling options are inexperienced at this level.
Starc has become more experienced since his last outings in IPL and he will be fiercer this time around.
Dinesh Karthik has been a journeyman cricketer in the IPL and after playing for Gujarat Lions for the last two IPL seasons and for RCB before that. Karthik has played 152 matches in IPL and made 2903 runs with 14 fifties at a strike rate of 125.94. He has taken 88 catches and made 26 stumpings in the IPL so far.
Karthik has been one of the best utility cricketers for a long time in India and in IPL. His best season in IPL was 2013 when he scored 510 runs playing for Mumbai Indians. He also scored 335 and 361 runs in the last two IPL seasons respectively for Gujarat Lions. His constant performances in IPL and Indian domestic cricket have got him a place in the Indian team as well, where he plays as a backup to MS Dhoni.
Kolkata Knight Riders also went ahead and named Dinesh Karthik as their captain for the IPL 11, banking on his previous captaining experience in IPL and trusted him with taking KKR to new heights with the new look team.
The Jamaican all-rounder is back playing cricket, after serving a year’s suspension for committing "anti-doping whereabouts" violation. Russell appeared in the ongoing PSL 2018 and was retained by the Kolkata Knight Riders before the IPL 2018 auction for Rs 7 cr.
Russell has made 574 runs in 34 matches with 3 fifties and a best of 66 with a strike rate of 173.41, something that has made him a dangerous player in IPL. He was even named the Most Valuable Player of the tournament in IPL 2015, where he scored 326 runs at 192.29 whilst picking 14 wickets and 6 catches. This included a 21-ball 51 against Kings XI Punjab.
KKR will hope that Russell comes back in top form for them in the IPL 11.
The first man to hit 100 sixes in the Big Bash League, Australia’s Chris Lynn has been a sensation in the world for his exploits in the BBL and in the IPL. He has scored 384 runs in 12 matches in IPL for KKR with a strike rate of 152.02 and the highest score of 93*.
Lynn, who has battled a host of injuries, played just 7 matches for KKR in IPL 2017, scoring 295 runs. However, his reputation to hit big sixes in the BBL has made him a favorite of the T20 leagues all around the world. Lynn was brought back by KKR in IPL 2018 auction for Rs 9.6 cr.
Currently out of the game due to a dislocated shoulder, Kolkata Knight Riders will be hoping that he gets fit in time for the IPL 11 and leads KKR with the bat in the upcoming season.