Less is more for Kolkata Knight Riders

Kolkata Knight Riders' Robin Uthappa says, smaller squad size lends security and responsibility to uncapped domestic players.

When the Kolkata Knight Riders had only 19 players on its roster at the end of the two-day player auction in January, it raised a few eyebrows. As the Indian Premier League (IPL) inches towards the latter stages, the franchise feels the decision to restrict the squad size has been justified.

Till the end of the 38th league match, the Knight Riders, placed fourth in the standings, has awarded at least a match to 15 of the 19 players. Surprisingly, the other team that has used the least number of players, just like the Knight Riders, is Mumbai Indians. The defending champion is one of the three teams with the largest squad size of 25 players. So far in IPL 2018, three teams – Chennai Super Kings, Royal Challengers Bangalore and Delhi Daredevils – have used number of players equal or more than that of the Knight Riders’ squad.

Robin Uthappa, the IPL veteran who had also been a part of the Pune Warriors India’s squad of 33 players for two seasons, feels a smaller squad size lends the sense of security and responsibility amongst players, especially the uncapped domestic players. Besides, according to Uthappa, smaller pool of players also results in better team-bonding.

 

“With a small squad, the roles are well defined. Boys have a clearer picture of what their roles are within the unit. It doesn't take too long to get to know one another personally. And I think everyone gets to travel with the team, no one's left behind. So I think the sense of unity is a lot more,” says Uthappa. 

Elaborating on the pros and cons of a smaller squad, Uthappa feels the provision of replacing an injured player half-way into the IPL also helps to restrict squad size. “There are more pros than cons. The IPL allows us that if in the first seven games anyone gets is injured and we need a replacement, we will be able to replace them. So I think that also helps in the fact that you can have a smaller squad,” he said.

“Especially for the youngsters, it gives them the sense of clarity that, you know, what direction they're heading in. In my experience, in the last ten years of IPL, the fewer changes you make within a side, the more successful you tend to be. So I think with a smaller squad you also have that many fewer options so it gives you a better chance of being successful.”