December 16 2018
Kolkata Knight Riders will come in to the IPL auctions with as many as 12 slots to fill ahead of next season. Having released 8 players, they are left with only 13 players of which just 3 are foreigners. While they have kept the core of their squad intact, they will be in desperate need of reinforcements in all departments.
Truth be told, KKR did not have a poor IPL 2018. Having named Dinesh Karthik as captain in place of their erstwhile skipper Gautam Gambhir, they finished third in the group stages. They also almost made it to the final last season at the expense of Hyderabad Sunrisers. But that will not be a good enough result for the 2 time champions and they will look to the auction with a plan to get their hands back on the trophy.
With a purse of Rs 15.2 crores, they will look to snap up as many as 12 players, 5 of which need to be foreigners. Along with their skipper Karthik, they have also retained key members like Chris Lynn, Sunil Narine, Robin Uthappa, Shubman Gill and Andre Russell. Their spin trio of Narine, Kuldeep Yadav and Piyush Chawla will also be available next season.
Four of their batsmen scored in excess of 350 runs and as many as 5 bowlers picked up at least 10 wickets last season so KKR are a team that goes for a balanced approach instead of one or two players taking on a starring role.
The main problem for them however will be that despite having released so many players, their purse will not allow them to go for the most sought after players as they will need to sign at least 10 players. The foreigners are not going to come cheap and KKR need to buy 5.
Lynn will miss a major chunk of next season as Australia will be playing an ODI series in the UAE in preparation for the World Cup and Andre Russell is hopelessly out of form at the moment so Narine is the only foreigner they can depend on.
Having seen Mitchell Starc, Mitchell Johnson and R. Vinay Kumar leave, they will need major reinforcements in the pace department. Daniel Christian, Chris Jordan, Barinder Sran or even Tymal Mills will be options and it will be interesting to see who KKR go after. Mohammed Shami and Dale Steyn are interesting prospects but other teams could beat KKR to their signature.
They will need another opener as back up for Lynn. Former batsman Brendon McCullum and Reeza Hendricks are options that KKR might opt for. Jaydev Unadkat was a relative unknown when he last played for KKR but now famed for his death bowling, he too could make a return to the Eden Gardens. But will they be able to afford his Rs 1.5 crore base price?
If you ask me, Sam Curran is the all rounder and Shimron Hetmyer is the batsman that could get KKR to their third IPL title but it remains to be seen if they can cough up the money to get their signatures.
All in all, with some smart additions, KKR might be ready to contest again. The question however is whether they will be able to make those additions. We will have our answer in Jaipur on 18th December!