After the auction for 2020 edition of Indian Premier League, in this series we take a look at how the teams stack up and what their strengths, weaknesses are.
Breakdown of the KKR squad with players bought at the auction highlighted in bold:
|Nitish Rana||Harry Gurney||Andre Russell||Dinesh Karthik|
|Rinku Singh||Prasidh Krishna||Sunil Narine||Nikhil Shankar Naik|
|Shubman Gill||Sandeep Warrier||Pat Cummins|
|Siddhesh Lad||Shivam Mavi||Varun Chakravarthy|
|Eoin Morgan||Kamlesh Nagarkoti||Chris Green|
|Rahul Tripathi||Lockie Ferguson|
|Tom Banton||Kuldeep Yadav|
Kolkata Knight Riders, after not reaching the playoffs the previous season, made some big decisions, including that of snapping up Australia quick Pat Cummins for a whopping Rs 15.50 crore, making him the most expensive foreign buy in Indian Premier League history.
The pace bowling department, last year, was an area where the two-time looked short of numbers, and it derailed their campaign during the tail end of the group stages. Fitness issues continue to plague young quicks Kamlesh Nagarkoti and Shivam Mavi. The latter has made a good start to the Ranji Trophy campaign but it remains to be seen if he’ll be fit and firing by the time the IPL comes along.
If he does, Kolkata can claim to even match Mumbai Indians with Cummins, New Zealander Lockie Ferguson and the impressive Prasidh Krishna in their ranks. Throw in Andre Russell’s hostile bursts for good measure and they have an attack to be feared.
This is a move that goes against the grain; for years, Kolkata’s success has been built around their spin attack. Piyush Chawla, Kuldeep Yadav and Sunil Narine have combined to win them matches aplenty. The team management might have seen their spin attack come a cropper last year. At the epicentre of it was Kuldeep’s loss of confidence, a poor run that stretched right up to his recent hat-trick against the West Indies.
One of the shrewd buys of the auction, without a doubt, is that of England’s limited-overs captain Eoin Morgan. Dinesh Karthik will have a wise head to turn to for tactical inputs. Morgan also bolsters the middle-order and takes the pressure off Russell, who, at times was waging a lone battle for Kolkata.
Another purchase that could turn out to be one of the major bargain buys is that of young England opener Tom Banton. It is early days but the 21-year-old has shown enough evidence that he’ll be a difficult customer to stop once he gets going. But, Chris Lynn has left big shoes to fill at the top of the order.
Shubman Gill and Nitish Rana have been consistent performers in the last two years. Gill has impressed across the batting order but came into his own while opening the innings. That is a decision Brendon McCullum and Co have to make very early into the season.
Gill continues to be one of the bright young prospects of Indian cricket and his consistency could pave the way for Karthik, Morgan and Russell to inflict further damage at the back end of the innings.
Releasing Chawla was a surprise move, considering he was the pick of the slow bowlers for Kolkata in 2019. The concerns, though, are familiar. It comes down to how Narine and Kuldeep can steer the ship. As for the pacers, fitness concerns remain. Ferguson, Cummins as well as the Nagarkoti-Mavi duo have had spells with injuries. The Australian may not be a part of the entire campaign.
Gautam Gambhir, who helped KKR win two titles, was not happy with Kolkata’s bench strength: “The positive part about Cummins is that you can expect him to take wickets with the new ball because he has a good swing and he bowls at a good pace, he might be a concern for the death overs”
He added: “There is no backup for Andre Russell, Eoin Morgan, Sunil Narine who is a one of a kind bowler. If Eoin Morgan suffers an injury, the team has no middle-order overseas batsman.”
That being said, Kolkata are better placed than 2019 with their squad. If Kuldeep can weave his magic more regularly, this team can have a run till the playoffs atleast.