IPL 2020 auctions: Smaller the better for Kolkata Knight Riders

The franchise has released Australian opener Chris Lynn and Robin Uthappa, which means it will need an opening batsman; there are four slots for the foreigners.

Kolkata Knight Riders all-rounder Andre Russell in action against Mumbai Indians in IPL 2019.   -  FILE PHOTO/PRASHANT NAKWE

 

Kolkata Knight Riders had just 19 players in its squad in IPL 2018 — the least among all the eight franchises. That move did prove effective for the side, which went on to reach the Qualifiers.

As it gears up for the IPL mini auction here on Thursday, the plan is simple — to make smart moves and fill in the gaps. The two-time champion has retained 14 players and still has 11 slots to fill; four solely for foreign players. But given its track record, it won’t be a surprise if the franchise decides to go into the tournament with a smaller squad.

“We have tried to maintain a compact squad. It is difficult to manage a larger squad,” KKR CEO Venky Mysore said on the eve of the auction.

The fact that it invested heavily on younger guns like Shubman Gill paid dividends. “In 2018, we invested in a younger squad and it paid off really well for us. We have had a fair amount of success. We did not win the championship. Last year, we did not make it to the play-offs on run rate but the team has done fairly well,” he added.

READ| Six players added to final auction pool

The priority of the side is a good blend of experience and youth.

“There has been a lot of discussion. This being a mini auction — we have retained 14 players — which means, most of our parts are sorted. There is always some specific areas that you are looking to fill. There will some specific things to do. We have four foreigners slots to fill for sure, may be a couple of Indians,” Mysore said, indicating that his side would, at the most, look for selective players and may not fill in all the eleven available slots.

The franchise has released Australian opener Chris Lynn and Robin Uthappa, which means it will need an opening batsman.

“It depends. We had Lynn and then released him. We have a new coach [in Brendon McCullum] and we have revamped the team — we have a fantastic set up. We had a good set up even before. Change is always good. There could potentially be some new direction that we may be thinking at. It also depends on who comes when. The trick for auction is to be prepared for all possibilities. From that perspective, the preparation has been good,” the CEO said.

READ| IPL 2020: How the eight teams stack up before Kolkata auction

The franchises will be looking to maintain its core this time around. There is a possibility of a full auction next year.

“We have to see the gaps we need to fill immediately. Who knows what the rules are going to be for next year. You will have to take it as it comes. You cannot take it too far, so it’s all about this year,” the CEO said.

Mysore will be at the auction along with head coach McCullum, assistant coach Abhishek Nayar and analyst AR Shrikant. Skipper Dinesh Karthik was in the city for personal work but he won’t be attending the auctions.

There are speculations that team co-owners Shah Rukh Khan and Juhi Chawla could drop in.

No Preity Zinta in the auction

Bollywood star Preity Zinta has been a regular at the IPL auctions. But she missed out on the last auction,  which was held in Jaipur in December last year.

Sources in Kings XI Punjab said that she is likely to skip this year’s auction as well. It has been learned that none of the owners will be present and the franchise will be represented by head coach Anil Kumble, CEO Satish Menon and other officials.

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