Pace to complement spin

Jacques Kallis... the Right to Match card comes into play.-PTI

Last season, Kolkata Knight Riders operated to an unwavering strategy, of using Sunil Narine to tie opponents down on the slow, low pitches at Eden Gardens. It was therefore a bit of a surprise to see the team move to buy Morne Morkel, Patrick Cummins and Umesh Yadav — all bowlers capable of nearing the 150kmph mark. While these bowlers will all support Narine — something that was lacking as KKR lurched to a seventh-place finish last season — their purchase shouldn’t be interpreted as a departure from the principles that delivered the team success in 2012.

Piyush Chawla was brought in and he will complement Narine alongside the returning Shakib al Hasan, who is better than most people give him credit for. Jacques Kallis — now freed from Test match duty — was won back with the RTM (Right to Match) card. Yusuf Pathan, Ryan ten Doeschate and Manvinder Bisla have also returned to their former home.

It is hard to escape the feeling, though, that KKR’s batting is a little skinny. An off-key Gautam Gambhir needs big contributions from Robin Uthappa and Manish Pandey, neither of whom is reputed for consistency. One of the major reasons for KKR’s sloppy performance last year was Gambhir’s failure with the bat. Kallis is not the type of player who will score quick runs; so Chris Lynn, who gained attention with his performances for Brisbane Heat in the Big Bash League, ought to be given a go. R. Vinay Kumar too appears a smart buy. He is widely lampooned for his lack of pace, but his captains fail to understand that he is a new-ball bowler who takes wickets and not someone who can bowl first-change and dry the runs up.

Like Vinay, Gambhir, Pathan, Uthappa and Chawla are all players on the fringes of the Indian team — to varying degrees — looking for a way back in. The IPL, as seen in previous years, is an effective platform. KKR needs tall contributions from its Indian contingent if it has to match up to the league’s big sides and there can be no better motivation than the lure of national duty.

THE TEAM

Players retained: Sunil Narine, Gautam Gambhir.

Players bought: Jacques Kallis (Rs. 5.50 crore, RTM), Robin Uthappa (5), Piyush Chawla (4.25), Yusuf Pathan (3.25, RTM), Shakib Al Hasan (2.8), R. Vinay Kumar (2.8), Morne Morkel (2.8), Umesh Yadav (2.6), Manish Pandey (1.7), Chris Lynn (1.3), Patrick Cummins (1), Ryan ten Doeschate (1), Suryakumar Yadav (Rs. 70 lakh), Andre Russell (60), Manvinder Bisla (60), Kuldeep Yadav (40), Veer Pratap Singh (40), Debabrata Das (20) and Sayan Mondal (10).

Shreedutta Chidananda