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Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) won the Indian Premier League (IPL) once in the 2012 edition. But in the last season in 2013, they were not really up to their mark. As the teams gear up for IPL 7, all eyes will be fixed on the Gautam Gambhir-led side that has new players in their squad. Abhishek Borwankar previews the team ahead of IPL 2014…
This year’s edition which will be starting on the April 16 in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), the Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) would be hoping to do a lot better than their previous show and make it to the knockout stages. In last year’s edition, they only finished at the disappointing seventh spot. They were e expected to do lot better than that as they were the defending champions. Kolkata has maintained their core squad and has bought in some new talent in this year’s IPL. Let’s have a look at some of the key features of the Kolkata Knight Riders squad for the IPL 2014 season.
Despite not finding a place in the Indian national side, Gautam Gambhir was retained by KKR and will be the captaining the side again. He lost his place in the Indian squad to Shikhar Dhawan and is finding it difficult to make it back.
He was picked by Kolkata Knight Riders in 2012 and captained the side to IPL success in first season itself. There are expectations that KKR have to live up to these expectations and Gambhir would be hoping his team provides the necessary support and performances to help them retain the trophy. The conditions in UAE are very similar to that of India, so adjusting to the conditions in the first of the leg of the league won’t be difficult for him.
Key Indian Players
To have success in the IPL, it is very essential to have good Indian players in their camp. In the batting department, KKR have the likes of Robin Uthappa who can open the batting for them and even keep wickets. He is a destructive batsman and Gambhir will be hoping the veteran cricketer in the Indian domestic circuit delivers on the big stage. Manvinder Bisla is similar to Uthappa and was their key batsman in the IPL 2012. Yusuf Pathan is also a strong middle-order batsman who can change the game at his will with powerful strokes. But his inconsistency has been a worry in the past. He can chip in with the bowl too. Manish Pandey and Debabrata Das will be hoping to make an impression in this year’s edition.
In the bowling department, KKR have Umesh Yadav, Vinay Kumar and Piyush Chawla. They all have had stints with Indian national team, so Gambhir will be hoping to use their experience. Yadav has the pace and Vinay Kumar has had a lot of experience with Royal Challengers Bangalore. They have also picked the young talent of Kuldeep Yadav. The Chinaman spinner will be an option that will be bring variation in the bowling attack.
Key Foreign players
KKR will be hoping, veteran all-rounder Jacques Kallis shows his magic with the bat and all like always. They have the likes of Sunil Narine and Shakib Al Hasan, who will play a vital role in the slow pitches of UAE. Shakib can also deliver with the bat as he is one of the best all-rounders in the world.
The fast bowling duo of Morne Morkel and Pat Cummins will be KKR’s plus point. . Morkel has done exceptionally well with Delhi Daredevils and has ample amount of IPL experience. The West Indian all-rounder, Andre Russell, can be lethal with bat and ball but hasn’t many chances in the IPL.
With the likes of Kallis, Pathan and Shakib, Kolkata Knight Riders have good international all-rounders in their line-up and will be hoping that they deliver on the main stage and win them matches.
The lack of consistent batsmen will be the weakness for the Knight Riders. The team will need their all-rounders to come to the fore and a lot will be dependent on Kallis and Pathan. The biggest challenge that they face is consistent performances, as occasional sparks of brilliance may not help a side to go as far as it could, especially in a tournament as long as the IPL.
They have reached the knockout stages only on two occasions and have won the tournament back in 2012. Last year they couldn’t defend their title and were not able to make it to the Play-offs. Their past record suggests they have lacked consistency. In IPL 2014, Kolkata Knight Riders will be hoping they can find some consistency and form to make it to the knockout round. They have won it once, but will they able to do it again?
(Abhishek Borwankar is currently pursuing his degree in commerce, but loves cricket and numbers related to it)
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