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Thursday, Oct 17, 2019

IPL 2019: KKR have the squad to mount serious title challenge

For the past three campaigns, KKR have crashed out at the playoff stage and failed to reach the summit clash. Having brought in a host of big names, KKR will look to make the final this term and take home a third title

cricket Updated: Feb 19, 2019 19:27 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
KKR are bidding for a third IPL title.
KKR are bidding for a third IPL title. (AP)

Kolkata Knight Riders are two-time Indian Premier League champions, having won the coveted title in 2012 and 2014. However, for the past three campaigns they have crashed out at the playoff stage and failed to reach the summit clash. Having brought in a host of big names, KKR will look to make the final this term and take home a third title.

The Kolkata outfit shelled out Rs 5 crore for the services of West Indies all-rounder Carlos Brathwaite and a further Rs 1.6 crore for New Zealand pacer Lockie Ferguson. They are additions to an already stacked side that has the likes of Sunil Narine, Andre Russell, Chris Lynn, Dinesh Karthik and Kuldeep Yadav.

KKR also have one of the best young talents on their roster. Shubman Gill played a big part in helping India win the 2018 Under-19 World Cup in New Zealand and was adjudged Player of the Tournament for his heroics. He has subsequently gone on to make his international debut during the recently concluded one-day international series against New Zealand. He failed to set the stage alight but will be eagerly watched in home conditions.

Dinesh Karthik will lead the team for a second season running and will look to continue the run-making heroics that yielded him 498 runs as the team’s highest scorer in the last campaign. With a settled squad that has good mix of established hands and young guns, KKR have the ingredients to mount a serious title challenge.

KKR squad

Players bought: Carlos Brathwaite - 5 crores, Lockie Ferguson - 1.60 crore, Anrich Nortje - 20 lakhs, Nikhil Naik - 20 lakhs, Harry Gurney - 75 lakhs, Prithvi Raj Yarra - 20 lakhs, Joe Denly - 1 crore, Shrikant Mundhe - 20 lakhs

Players retained: Dinesh Karthik, Robin Uthappa, Chris Lynn, Andre Russell, Sunil Narine, Shubman Gill, Prasidh Krishna, Shivam Mavi, Nitish Rana, Kamlesh Nagarkoti, Rinku Singh, Kuldeep Yadav, Piyush Chawla

KKR supports staff:

Head coach – Jacques Kallis
Assistant coach –Simon Katich
Bowling coach – Heath Streak
Physiotherapist – Andrew Leipus
Physical trainer – Adrian Le Roux
Data and video analyst –AR Srikkanth

Five Indian players to watch out for

Dinesh Karthik

Karthik has firmly established himself in the Indian limited overs squad with consistent batting down the order. He was appointed as captain by the Kolkata outfit last season and took them to the playoffs. Karthik will be keen to deliver a third IPL title for the Knight Riders.

Robin Uthappa

A veteran of 165 IPL matches, Uthappa is a seasoned hand in the shortest format of the game, having amassed over 4000 runs at a commendable strike rate of 131.84. He has been with the Knights since 2014 was awarded the franchise’s vice-captaincy last term.

Shubman Gill

Gill was named the Player of the Tournament for his heroics at the 2018 Under-19 World Cup in New Zealand and has since gone on to don the India cap in ODIs. Virat Kohli recently lavished praise on the youngster, saying he had one tenth of the talent that Gill has at his age. The Punjab batsman will be eager to demonstrate his talents.

Kuldeep Yadav

The Chinaman spinner is one of the best when it comes to bowling in the shortest format of the game. He was a key player during India’s recent tours of Australia and New Zealand and the Knight Riders can bank on his heroics when the going gets tough.

Piyush Chawla

Chawla finished with 14 wickets from 15 matches last season and played a key role in taking the team to the playoffs. A KKR veteran, he hit the winning runs in the 2014 final and can be a handy bat but it is his wicket-taking abilities that his side will want to cash in on.

Five foreigners to watch out for

Chris Lynn

One of best power hitters in the game, Lynn was the second-highest run-getter for KKR last term as he amassed 491 runs from his 16 innings. Apart from his batting, the Australian brings a phenomenal ability to field on the boundary line.

Andre Russell

The Jamaican is about raw power with a cricket bat and is also a handy option with the ball. Last season, he contributed 316 runs at a phenomenal strike rate of 184.79 and chipped in with 13 wickets. KKR will hope for another all-round turn from Russell.

Sunil Narine

Narine remains a consistent wicket-taking threat for KKR. There was a lot of buzz around KKR’s decision to retain him last term, and he answered critics with 17 wickets from his 16 matches that came with a fantastic economy rate of 7.65. On top of it, Narine retains his ability to strike big at the top of the order.

Carlos Brathwaite

Brathwaite was KKR’s most expensive acquisition last term as they bought him for Rs 5 crore. Despite his phenomenal talents, the Barbadian all-rounder hasn’t lived up to his potential in the IPL. He will hope for a change of fortunes this year.

Lockie Ferguson

The New Zealand bowler has express pace. He troubled the Indian batsmen with accurate bowling during their recent tour of New Zealand. Ferguson will be playing only his second IPL season – having turned out for Rising Pune Supergiants in 2017 – and will want to justify the Rs 1.6 crore fee KKR shelled out for his services.

Past record:

2008: League stage.

2009: League stage

2010: League stage.

2011: Playoffs.

2012: Champions.

2013: League stage.

2014: Champions.

2015: League stage.

2016: Playoffs.

2017: Playoffs.

2018: Playoffs

First Published: Feb 15, 2019 17:45 IST

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