Kolkata head coach Jacques Kallis. @ PTI

Coach of the Kolkata-based franchise in the Indian T20 league, Jacques Kallis believes his squad are well balanced, despite suffering initial setbacks in the ouster of three fast bowlers – Kamlesh Nagarkoti, Shivam Mavi and Anrich Nortje – out to injuries.

The Dinesh Karthik-led outfit that finished third last season with 16 points from eight wins, procured the services of Barbados allrounder Carlos Brathwaite for Rs 5 crore. Brathwaite adds more firepower alongside big-hitters like Chris Lynn, Robin Uthappa and Andre Russell.

In the bowling department, Kolkata added New Zealand fast bowler Lockie Ferguson, left-arm Englishman Harry Gurney, who is known to have a lot of variety to their pace attack this season.

“I don’t know how you measure excitement, but this year’s Kolkata squad has got me on the edge of my seat. We are definitely better balanced than we were last year with much better fast bowling options and more quality depth in all departments,” Kallis wrote in his column for the Times of India on Saturday. (ALSO READ: Batting has been Kolkata Knight Riders’ biggest strength: Simon Katich)

“It is a pity that our South African fast bowler, Anrich Nortje, has had to withdraw through injury, but that’s the nature of professional sport — especially for fast bowlers! But he is a serious talent and I have no doubt he will make his mark in the IPL in years to come — for us.

“The majority of the squad has been attending academy sessions throughout the year, which have very clearly benefited them all. Apart from general strength and conditioning they have all been working on and practising specific skills which I’m looking forward to seeing in action.”  (ALSO READ: Bangladesh grants Shakib Al Hasan NOC for IPL 2019)

The South African is also glad that their home matches will be held at the Eden Gardens. Speculation was rife that some of the matches may be shifted in lieu of the Lok Sabha Elections, but the BCCI set the record clear after announcing the full schedule recently which confirmed that this season will stick to the home and away format. (ALSO READ: BCCI releases IPL schedule for remaining league matches)

“The best news, of course, is that all our home games will be at Eden Gardens. Every franchise is proud of their home venue and their home crowd, but everyone also knows that the level of support we get and the atmosphere at the Gardens is like having a 12th player on the field,” Kallis said.

“We have a few new faces, but mostly we have the same guys who have done so well for us in the past. The KKR ‘family’ is a cornerstone of the franchise philosophy and we don’t trade our brothers lightly! The senior players all seem to be super fit and hungry for success. KKR will be hitting the ground running this year.

“I don’t want to tempt fate, but every squad member is strong, fit and raring to go. The practice sessions and warm up games have been excellent. Sometimes it is difficult to create the intensity you need for meaningful practice but that wasn’t the case for the last ten days or so.”

Kolkata get their campaign underway when they face Hyderabad at home on Sunday.