@swaris16 4 minute read
Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) have a budget of INR 7.05 crore – the smallest among all ten teams in the IPL 2023 auction. They have as many as 11 slots available and can buy a maximum of three overseas players.
Kolkata Knight Riders’ biggest strengths are their West Indies duo of Andre Russell and Sunil Narine. Narine also forms a lethal spin bowling combination with Varun Chakravarthy, with the two playing a pivotal role in taking the team to the final of the 2021 edition. Lockie Ferguson and Tim Southee offer pace, while Umesh Yadav brings his experience in the powerplay overs. In Shreyas Iyer, Kolkata Knight Riders have a shrewd skipper up the order, while Nitish Rana and Rinku Singh are X-factors and have been associated with the side since 2018.
Ahead of IPL 2023, they traded Rahmanullah Gurbaz and Ferguson from Gujarat Titans besides getting the services of Shardul Thakur from Delhi Capitals in exchange for Aman Khan.
Russell remains the team’s biggest strength, with his all-round showing helping the team out from pressure situations season after season. The all-rounder has been with Kolkata Knight Riders since 2014 and had a stellar season last year, scoring 335 runs at a strike rate of 174 whilst also picking up 17 scalps.
Narine’s economical bowling tightens the grip in the middle overs while the pace bowling attack packs a punch as well.
Rinku Singh has played only 17 matches for KKR, but he had a breakout season last year, making 174 runs at a strike rate of 149. He is in excellent domestic form and will add firepower to the lower middle order along with Russell.
KKR’s troubles begin right from the top. After releasing Shubman Gill ahead of the 2022 auction, they struggled to find a reliable opener, switching between Aaron Finch and Ajinkya Rahane for most of last season. Venkatesh Iyer’s poor form in 2022 also did not help matters, which left the batters to follow with plenty of catching up to do. KKR had a strike rate of 114 in the powerplay overs this year, and even though they have now traded Gurbaz, an aggressive hitter, he is untested in the competition.
If Gurbaz does play up the order, it will also mean only one of Southee or Ferguson can make the XI, with Russell and Narine must-picks. Umesh had a stellar IPL season last year, picking up 16 wickets with an economy rate of just over seven, but he has proven to be expensive in the past and a poor day for him could expose KKR’s bowling depth. Russell was KKR’s fifth bowler in IPL 2022 but his run with injuries prompted the team to trade Thakur to the side. The all-rounder, however, is yet to establish himself as a premier match-winner in the format.
The form of Chakravarthy will be a concern too. After picking up 18 wickets in 2021, he ended with six scalps in 2022 with an economy rate of 8.51. He excelled on the slow wickets of UAE but struggled when the IPL caravan shifted to the flat tracks of Mumbai. The Eden Gardens wicket has had little on offer for the spinners of late, and if Chakravarthy struggles, KKR will be in a spot of bother.
KKR have a number of slots to fill in the 2023 auction but the issue for them is their remaining budget, which makes it unlikely that they could buy any of the much-sought-after players. They should look to go after Mayank Agarwal, who, at INR 1 crore, could help solve their opening woes. Narayan Jagadeesan will also be an excellent option for the side. The former Chennai Super Kings wicketkeeper will help solve two of the team’s problems and is also in excellent form.
David Wiese, who is also listed at INR 1 crore, will lend experience, be an able backup for the injury-prone Russell and will also be a handy all-rounder to have in the XI if the overseas quicks are unable to turn up in the edition.
They will also be looking at young Indian fast bowlers having released Shivam Mavi and should target Ishan Porel, who can bowl fast, was a part of India’s under-19 World Cup-winning team in 2018 and knows the ground well courtesy of being a local.
Kolkata Knight Riders squad (overseas cricketers underlined)
Shreyas Iyer (C), Nitish Rana, Rahmanullah Gurbaz, Venkatesh Iyer, Andre Russell, Sunil Narine, Shardul Thakur, Lockie Ferguson, Umesh Yadav, Tim Southee, Harshit Rana, Varun Chakravarthy, Anukul Roy, Rinku Singh
Purse left: INR 7.05 Crore
Slots left: 11 (3 overseas)