KKR: Pragmatic Kolkata!

Captain Gautam Gambhir, who has seen his international career hitting the doldrums in recent times, will be looking to reignite his prospects with a good performance from the team.

Skipper Gautam Gambhir's team, the Kolkata Knight Riders, has retained most of its players thereby ensuring focus.   -  K. R. DEEPAK

Kolkata Knight Riders, a two-time champion, is looking to regroup after failing to make it to the play-off stage as the defending champion last season.

Captain Gautam Gambhir, who has seen his international career hitting the doldrums in recent times, will be looking to reignite his prospects with a good performance from the team.

In the auctions held in February, the Knight Riders took a pragmatic approach and roped in explosive New Zealand batsman Colin Munro, Australian pacer John Hastings, India seamer Jaydev Unadkat and West Indian all-rounder Jason Holder among others. It also acquired Tamil Nadu cricketer R. Sathish to get the squad in order.

The KKR captain said that he not keen on having a big squad and focussed on retaining the core which includes the likes of Australian Chris Lynn, Manish Pandey, Robin Uthappa, Surya Kumar Yadav in the batting and pacers Morne Morkel, Umesh Yadav and left-arm spinner Kuldeep Yadav in the bowling departments. With the mystery spin of Sunil Narine restrained by the ICC, KKR now will have to look at another match-winner among the bowlers. Among the all-rounders West Indian Andre Russell, Bangladeshi Shakib Al Hasan and Yusuf Pathan remain in the scheme of things.

Making a statement after the auctions, Gambhir said that he was looking for a settled side and was not keen about too many changes. The captain said that the advantage of having a small squad was that the players can stay focussed, which is not possible for a bigger group as everyone does not always get a game forcing things to drift away.

Owing to elections in the state, the team will play the bulk of its matches away in April.

This gives it the advantage of playing five of the last six matches at home in May. The team did well at home last season, but lost crucial away matches and that cost it the chance to reach the play-off stage.

Squad: Gautam Gambhir (capt.), Piyush Chawla, John Hastings, Brad Hogg, Jason Holder, Sheldon Jackson, Kuldeep Yadav, Chris Lynn, Manan Sharma, Morne Morkel, Colin Munro, Sunil Narine, Manish Pandey, Yusuf Pathan, Ankit Rajpoot, Andre Russell, Rajagopal Sathish, Shakib Al Hasan, Jaydev Unadkat, Robin Uthappa, Suryakumar Yadav.