The Indian Premier League auction on December 19 will see teams bidding for more than 300 players to fill up 73 slots (with 29 of those for overseas players). This is a mini-auction with some teams opting to retain bulk of their side while a few have opted for a revamp. The auction for IPL 2021 will offer teams a chance to reset their squads so this year, it will be about preparing for just the upcoming season and not exactly looking at the long haul. In this series, we take a look at what teams need for the upcoming season.

Despite Andre Russell’s heroics, Kolkata Knight Riders couldn’t arrest their slide during the tail-end of the season, missing out on a spot in the IPL playoffs. Dinesh Karthik’s men started with a bang before bowing out on a whimper. KKR’s problems are familiar: While they possessed a power-packed first XI, the lack of depth in their squad came back to haunt them.

Despite having two bright young talents in pacers Shivam Mavi and Kamlesh Nagarkoti, their persistent injuries hampered their side’s prospects. Nagarkoti is yet to play a game for KKR but to the management’s credit, they have decided to retain the pace duo. Mavi recently made a strong comeback for Uttar Pradesh in the Ranji Trophy, which bodes well for KKR going into the new season.

Interestingly, the two-time champions let go off Chris Lynn, the buccaneering top-order batsman. Since the team looks light at the top of the order, there is every possibility of him making a return in the auctions. Lynn was in terrific form in the inaugural T10 league and is expected to make similar inroads in the ongoing Big Bash League, which is his favourite hunting ground. KKR are expected to go all out in during the auctions given that that the side needs major surgery.

Purse available: Rs 35.65 crore

Remaining slots: 11

Overseas player slots: 4

Players released before auction (10): Robin Uthappa, Chris Lynn, Piyush Chawla, Joe Denly, Yarra Prithviraj, Nikhik Naik, KC Cariappa, Matthew Kelly, Shrikant Mundhe, Carlos Brathwaite, Anrich Nortje

Current KKR squad composition

Batsman  Bowlers  All-rounders Wicketkeepers
Nitish Rana Harry Gurney  Andre Russell  Dinesh Karthik
Rinku Singh Prasidh Krishna Sunil Narine
Shubman Gill Sandeep Warrier
Siddhesh Lad Shivam Mavi
Kamlesh Nagarkoti
Lockie Ferguson
Kuldeep Yadav

Strengths of current squad

With Shubman Gill, Russell, Karthik, Nitish Rana in their ranks, KKR are well stocked in the batting department. If Nagarkoti and Mavi are fit, their bowling attack will have depth too. The upcoming IPL is crucial for Kuldeep Yadav, who desperately needs a good tournament under his belt. When the left-arm wrist spinner gets going, he can be flummox opponents.

Russell continues to be one of the sought after players in the league. KKR’s wins at the start of the season were engineered by the big-hitting Jamaican. Teams will dread bowing second to KKR.

What the team needs at the auction

Upcoming England batsman Tom Banton, who is expected to go for big money, is also an option KKR will be looking at, given that they have as many as four overseas slots available. Kuldeep Yadav suffered an alarming slump in form towards the tail end of the season. He is no longer a guaranteed starter in the Indian side too and getting a backup spinner will rank highly in the KKR camp. Moreover, senior spinner Piyush Chawla was also released by the side.

While Gill continues to grow as a batsman, letting go of Robin Uthappa has left another hole in the middle-order. The ploy to use Sunil Narine as a pinch hitter at the top became a predictable tactic so roping in a specialist batsman will be the key.

Russell’s fitness will be a concern as always. KKR have let go of Carlos Brathwaite, who failed to get going despite going for big money. Prasidh Krishna, at one point, was spearheading the attack. While the Karnataka pacer has promise, he lacks experience and can work well with a big name. It won’t be surprising to see KKR try to snap up Pat Cummins once again. Recently, New Zealand quick Lockie Ferguson suffered an injury and after a long home season, it remains to be seen if he can still be effective. KKR are far from a settled unit and need a big auction to get back to winning ways.