After a challenging 2019, it has looked to build a younger, fitter, more cohesive squad
In the absence of Eden Gardens’ vociferous support, two-time Indian Premier League (IPL) winner Kolkata Knight Riders will seek inspiration during its 2020 campaign from Trinbago Knight Riders’ recent Caribbean triumph.
The franchise will hope that its TKR men, Sunil Narine and Ali Khan, become harbingers of good luck in KKR colours.
Following its spectacular inconsistency last season, KKR has taken some prudent steps to iron out its deficiencies. After forming a younger and fitter squad, it is now keen to implement its plans well.
KKR’s effort to build a team culture, including taking care of its players through the off-season, is expected to result in more cohesiveness.
In search of its third crown, KKR may benefit from the combined wisdom of head coach Brendon McCullum, captain Dinesh Karthik and England skipper Eoin Morgan. McCullum’s aggressive approach, Karthik’s wealth of experience and Morgan’s composure may open up newer possibilities.
Shubman Gill, being groomed as a future leader, is expected to form an explosive combination with Narine at the top. The KKR think-tank may consider the option of sending West Indian all-rounder Andre Russell up the order to make the most of his game-changing ability.
Karthik and Morgan are likely to hold the key in the middle-order while a talented bunch of batters, including Nitish Rana, Tom Banton, Rahul Tripathi, Rinku Singh and Siddhesh Lad, will contribute as and when required.
The Aussie-Kiwi pair of Pat Cummins, the costliest buy at ₹15.5 crore, and Lockie Ferguson will lead the pace battery, also consisting of promising Indians Kamlesh Nagarkoti, Shivam Mavi, Prasidh Krishna and Sandeep Warrier.
One cannot underestimate Russell and American Ali Khan, who replaced Harry Gurney, in the pace department.
Among spinners, the experienced duo of Kuldeep Yadav and Narine will shoulder most of the responsibility on the overused UAE pitches. Two Tamil Nadu boys — ‘mystery spinner’ Varun Chakravarthy and left-arm spinner M. Siddharth, who may be a dark horse — will be eager to prove their worth.
With a balanced squad, KKR will look to end its five-year title drought.