Stability will be the key

John Buchanan and Sourav Ganguly’s distinctive personalities have collectively courted controversy with the multiple-captains theory and its subsequent evolution into the concept of a single captain and multiple strategists. And then there’s team owner Shah Rukh Khan.

As Kolkata Knight Riders struggles with individuals, the team will look to better its run from last year when the early promise shown wasn’t fulfilled.

Brendon McCullum’s pyrotechnics last year got the IPL off to a dream start. The New Zealander has looked in great touch in the just-concluded series against India. The explosive Chris Gayle will be available for part of the league, and should do the bulk of the scoring with McCullum and Ganguly.

Ishant Sharma, a supporter of Buchanan’s multiple-captains idea, is expected to be the side’s bowling mainstay. Ajantha Mendis’ impact in this format on South African wickets remains to be seen. “He’s only got four overs, so batsmen are going to have to take risks against him, which is an advantage bowlers like to have, especially slow bowlers if they are not reading them that well. Mendis is one of our lead bowlers and we’ll be relying on him through the tournament. It will be pretty exciting,” said Buchanan.

Knight Riders’ most effective weapon could be South African swing bowler Charl Langeveldt. Langeveldt’s knowledge of the conditions would help his team, especially in venues like Durban which aid swing bowling. “I was always impressed with him as an opening bowler for South Africa for a number of years. We were looking for a lead bowler and he knows South African conditions and has performed well domestically over here,” said Buchanan.

The side’s biggest challenge lies in stability. Conflicts over captaincy and strategies could prove disruptive. Twenty20 is a limited format with respect to time, and when quick decisions are called for, the side will require a single captain’s decisiveness.