IPL 2018: Kolkata Knight Riders, a good mix!

One of the top performers in the IPL, the Kolkata Knight Riders has two titles under its belt. And, with regard to 2018, new captain Dinesh Karthik exudes confidence.

Geared up Dinesh Karthik, the new captain of the Kolkata Knight Riders, with the team’s Chief Executive Officer, Venky Mysore.

The way Dinesh Karthik blasted the Bangladesh bowling to secure the crown for India in a final-ball drama in the Nidahas Trophy final in Colombo, is good tidings for Kolkata Knight Riders, which has entrusted the captaincy to this gutsy wicketkeeper-batsman.

For one of the most decorated outfits in the IPL, the new season brings in a lot of changes both in terms of captaincy and team composition. The auction this season saw KKR bidding aggressively for the players it backed and that saw the franchise running into tight corners at times trying to preserve its wish-list.

READ: Knight Riders ropes in Curran as Starc's replacement

On paper the side continues to remain bowling-heavy with Tom Curran, Sunil Narine, Kuldeep Yadav and Andre Russell being the key picks this season. The team has retained some of the players from the previous years like Robin Uthappa, Kuldeep Yadav and Piyush Chawla but the prevalence of new faces will help Karthik formulate his own game plan more efficiently.

The news of Caribbean all-rounder Russell suffering a hamstring injury in the Pakistan Super League and Narine being called again for suspect action may come as a setback, but the side is looking to get over it by bringing in Javon Searles, a member of KKR’s cousin in the Caribbean Premier League, the Trinbago Knight Riders.

 

Looking to invest in the future, KKR has also picked up three Under-19 cricketers — the highest run-getter in the recent ICC Under-19 World Cup, Shubman Gill, and the impressive pacers in the same event, Kamlesh Nagarkoti and Shivam Mavi. Given the selection preference, these players are expected a play a big part in KKR’s scheme of things.

In the absence of the previous captain and opener Gautam Gambhir, who led the side to both its titles in 2012 and 2014, Karthik will have to shoulder the additional responsibility in the batting department, which is the one section that appears weak. But with Chris Lynn, Uthappa and Nitish Rana also present in the squad, KKR will be hoping to see some good partnerships in the batting department.

READ: Fit-again Lynn raring to go

Player to watch

Kuldeep Yadav, the fast developing wrist-spin exponent, seems to have usurped the ‘mystery’ element from the Caribbean off-spinner Sunil Narine, who is being constantly called for suspect action.

Topgun: Kuldeep Yadav celebrates a strike for KKR with wicketkeeper Robin Uthappa in the IPL last year. In the last one year, Kuldeep has improved by leaps and bounds.   -  VIVEK BENDRE

 

The left-arm ‘chinaman’ bowler, Kuldeep, has had a splendid time with the ball in the last few months, contributing notably in the Indian team’s outstanding performance in the limited-overs series in South Africa earlier this year. Yadav used his stock deliveries and mixed them with some crafty variations to good effect as he ran through one of the best sides in the world in its own backyard.

Kuldeep will be a key weapon in KKR’s arsenal as the side looks to regain the title.

Dinesh Karthik, captain

KKR is a consistently performing team for the last decade. I am really happy that I have been entrusted with the task of captaincy as I was looking for a leadership role at this point of my career. I am happy that this has come along and I will definitely give my best.

ALSO READ: Dinesh Karthik to alter batting position in KKR

It is a very balanced team. If you see the foreign players they are really experienced and when it comes to the Indians, they provide a lot of strength and this gives me the confidence to think about good results. And, the young players in the side will have a great opportunity to learn and express themselves in the company of some of the best players in the world.

Squad: Dinesh Karthik (wk/captain), Robin Uthappa, Sunil Narine, Andre Russell, Chris Lynn, Kuldeep Yadav, Piyush Chawla, Nitish Rana, Kamlesh Nagarkoti, Shivam Mavi, Mitchell Johnson, Shubman Gill, Ranganath Vinay Kumar, Rinku Singh, Cameron Delport, Javon Searles, Tom Curran, Apoorv Vijay Wankhade and Ishank Jaggi.