Kolkata Knight Riders' main aim surely would have been some smart shopping in the IPL Auctions 2017 © AFP
Kolkata Knight Riders’ main aim surely would have been some smart shopping in the IPL Auctions 2017 © AFP

With the 10th edition of Indian Premier League (IPL) 2017 just a couple of months away, the preparations for the tournament officially kicked off from last week when the IPL Governing council announced the month-and-a-half-long schedule for the tournament. Also, the much-followed and eagerly anticipated IPL Auction for the 2017 edition was held in Bengaluru on Monday. It was one of the quickest sessions (wrapped up about five hours). While some picks were obvious, there were quite a few surprises as well. Some of the notable surprises came from two-time IPL Champions Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) led by Gautam Gambhir. IPL Auction 2017: FULL News and Updates from IPL 10 auction

KKR have always been one of the ‘glam’ sides of the tournament regardless of how they have performed. The star power of players as well as of the management — that includes a megastar in Shahrukh Khan — makes KKR one of the most-followed and keenly supported sides. The side had no lack of support despite their dismal performances in the opening three seasons of the IPL. However, after winning the tournament in 2012 and 2014, they have become one of the most watched-out sides in the tournament, as they have been consistently appeared in making it to the playoff stage of the tournament.

KKR had a formidable side in 2016. They had made it to the playoffs again, only to lose in the Eliminator to Sunrisers Hyderabad, eventually the champions of the season. As the new season approaches, KKR made quite a few changes to their side, releasing several mainstays like Brad Hogg, Jason Holder, Morne Morkel, and Shaun Tait.

However, following their releases, KKR’s main aim surely would have been some smart shopping in the IPL auctions. Given their releases, it was expected that KKR would go for quality overseas bowlers, especially spinners, considering the fact they had built their strategies around spinners for some time now. However, KKR went in with a complete different mindset today, as they bought pacers instead of spinners.

KKR went on to acquire several seamers today: Chris Woakes, Trent Boult, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Rishi Dhawan, and Sayan Ghosh. They have also got in seam-bowling all-rounder Rovman Powell. Darren Bravo was drafted in as a batsman, while Sanjay Yadav and Ishank Jaggi made the cuts as spinners. IPL 2017 Auction: Complete list of sold players with price, Indian Premier League 10

List of players bought by KKR in IPL Auction 2017:

Players Type Amount paid
Trent Boult Bowler ₹ 5,00,00,000
Chris Woakes All-Rounder ₹ 4,20,00,000
Nathan Coulter-Nile Bowler ₹ 3,50,00,000
Rishi Dhawan All-Rounder ₹ 55,00,000
Darren Bravo Batsman ₹ 50,00,000
Rovman Powell All-Rounder ₹ 30,00,000
Sayan Ghosh Bowler ₹ 10,00,000
R. Sanjay Yadav All-Rounder ₹ 10,00,000
Ishank Jaggi Batsman ₹ 10,00,000

It is evident that KKR wanted to stack their side with seamers. Apart from the ones bought today, KKR already had Ankit Rajpoot and Umesh Yadav. The current shopping in today’s auction took KKR’s seamer count to seven. They also have five spinners.

Why did KKR take that approach? One logical explanation can be the changing nature of the tracks at the Eden Gardens. The change was also evident during the recently concluded Test against New Zealand and the ODI against England, where the conditions assisted seam bowling. Bhuvneshwar Kumar claimed 6 wickets in the Test against New Zealand, while Hardik Pandya got 3 wickets in the ODI against England.

The upcoming season of the IPL can witness a different track at the Eden Gardens altogether. A green track is probably on the cards. If that is the case, it was certainly a smart thinking by the KKR management. It had probably been triggered by the Sunrisers Hyderabad seamers last season. What was more, they had to focus on getting an extra seam-bowling all-rounder owing to the unavailability of Andre Russell following his one-year ban from all forms of cricket.

Nevertheless, despite the side now being dominated by pacers, there is no doubt that spinners will have a role to play. Sunil Narine, Kuldeep Yadav, Piyush Chawla, and Shakib AL Hasan can strangle any batting line-up, making KKR one of the strong bowling sides in the tournament. IPL 2017 Auction: Full list of players unsold for Indian Premier League 10

Nevertheless, what surprised more that KKR went for a couple of spinner during the auction. However, they missed out on getting a big name, despite having enough balance in the purse. It was expected that KKR would possible have a go at the current No. 1 ODI and T20I bowler Imran Tahir, who had the minimal base price of INR 50 lakhs. KKR did not even bid for him (neither did anyone else). It was certainly curious, given that KKR have released Hogg and there are persistent questions over Narine’s action.

Surprisingly, KKR did not invest in batsmen today, with Darren Bravo being the only big name. They possess a star-studded batting line-up, including skipper Gautam Gambhir, Manish Pandey, Robin Uthappa, Chris Lynn, Suryakumar Yadav, and Yusuf Pathan.

The full KKR side following IPL Auction 2017:

Players Country Batting style Bowling style
Darren Bravo Trinidad and Tobago Left-handed Right-arm medium-fast
Ishank Jaggi India Right-handed Legbreak googly
Manish Pandey India Right-handed Right-arm off break
Robin Uthappa India Right-handed Right-arm medium
Gautam Gambhir India Left-handed Right-arm leg break
Chris Lynn Australia Right-handed Slow left-arm orthodox
Suryakumar Yadav India Right-handed Right-arm medium
Chris Woakes England Right-handed Right-arm fast-medium
Andre Russell[a] Jamaica Right-handed Right-arm fast-medium
Yusuf Pathan India Right-handed Right-arm off break
Shakib Al Hasan Bangladesh Left-handed Slow left-arm orthodox
Rishi Dhawan India Right-handed Right-arm fast-medium
Rovman Powell Jamaica Right-handed Right-arm fast-medium
R Sanjay Yadav India Left-handed Slow left-arm orthodox
Sheldon Jackson India Right-handed
Ankit Rajpoot India Right-handed Right-arm medium-fast
Kuldeep Yadav India Left-handed Slow left-arm chinaman
Umesh Yadav India Right-handed Right-arm fast
Piyush Chawla India Left-handed Right-arm leg break
Sunil Narine Trinidad and Tobago Left-handed Right-arm off break
Trent Boult New Zealand Right-handed Left-arm fast-medium
Nathan Coulter-Nile Australia Right-handed Right-arm fast
Sayan Ghosh India Right-handed Right-arm medium

It was more or less a decent day at work for the former champions. Despite not opting for Tahir, KKR’s overall outfit is indeed a formidable side. It could well be on the title hunt this season.