IPL 2018: The two-time champions Kolkata Knight Riders will for the first time take the pitch without their star captain Gautam Gambhir in last 7 years.
IPL 2018: After 10 years, the IPL carousel had a full reboot during the auction in Bengaluru in January when over 450 players went under the hammer. After hectic bidding, frantic phone calls and occasional chiding from the auctioneer, the eight teams are all full to go hammers and tongs in the extravagant cricket league, starting April 7. The two-time champions Kolkata Knight Riders will for the first time take the pitch without their star captain Gautam Gambhir in last 7 years. Although, the baton has been passed to Dinesh Karthik, a true leadership figure is still missing from the side.
The initial tactic of bidding high for some players backfired for KKR as the auction progressed. The management will be able to put together a strong playing XI but lack of options and inexperience can cost them big in the tournament. A lot of their success will depend on how their overseas stars perform and with an injury to Mitchell Starc, they have already suffered a setback even before the tournament started.
Strong overseas contingent:
One thing that KKR management got right during IPL auction 2018, was probably the selection of their overseas stars. Even in Starc’s absence, the team have four excellent foreign players in – Mitchell Johnson, Chris Lynn, Sunil Narine and Andre Russel, spread across their playing XI. Lynn has been destructive in the last few years and if stays fit, India may finally get to see the best of him. Russel who missed the last season for KKR will be the bridge between the top 5 and bottom 5. The Windies’ all-rounder has the capability to change the course of the match within few balls. Sunil Narine has dominated IPL unlike any other spinner and will have the assistance of Piyush Chawla and Kuldeep Yadav in the spin department.
In-experienced batting order:
Batting is one area where KKR may have to struggle a bit, They have managed to buy some excellent hitters but their inexperience is what can make KKR’s season a long one. Chris Lynn at the top with Narine, will have the onus of giving his team a flying start. The experienced Robin Uthappa should bat at 3 and his form will be crucial in deciding KKR’s fortunes. The number 4 spot is up for grabs with two young batsmen – Shubman Gill and Nitish Rana competing for it.
Captain Dinesh Karthik at 5 will play the role of the finisher along with Andre Russel at 6 who can be used as a floater during the tournament.
Some are coming here for the 1⃣st time and some, for the 1⃣1⃣th time!
Here’s what our fans queuing up for their tickets had to say about the Eden Gardens-experience ????
— KolkataKnightRiders (@KKRiders) April 4, 2018
The problem, however, remains to be the bench. What if one of these guys get injured or fails to find his form? The replacements aren’t as great as you would want them to be. There is a Cameron Delport who had a good Big Bash season and some domestic names like Apoorv Wankhade, Ishank Jaggi, and Rinku Singh – definitely not the players who have set the world on fire with their batting.
Probably the only place where KKR heave a sigh of relief. With South African legend Jacques Kallis and Australian great Simon Katich as his deputy, KKR-owners can be sure that their young boys are in good hands. Kallis who took the coach’s role after playing for KKR for a few seasons surely knows the do’s and don’ts of the team and that would make things easy for both – players and the management.
KKR key players: Andre Russel, Shubman Gill, Kuldeep Yadav and Robin Uthappa.
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KKR Schedule and list of matches with venues:
Sunday 8th April 2018:
Kolkata Knight Riders vs Royal Challengers Bangalore: 8:00 pm IST (14:30 GMT), Eden Gardens, Kolkata
Tuesday 10th April 2018:
Chennai Super Kings vs Kolkata Knight Riders: 8:00 pm IST (14:30 GMT), M. A. Chidambaram Stadium, Chennai
Saturday 14th April 2018:
Kolkata Knight Riders vs Sunrisers Hyderabad: 8:00 pm IST (14:30 GMT), Eden Gardens, Kolkata
Monday 16th April 2018:
Kolkata Knight Riders vs Delhi Daredevils: 8:00 pm IST (14:30 GMT), Eden Gardens, Kolkata
Wednesday 18th April 2018:
Rajasthan Royals vs Kolkata Knight Riders: 8:00 pm IST (14:30 GMT), Sawai Mansingh Stadium, Jaipur
Saturday 21st April 2018:
Kolkata Knight Riders vs Kings XI Punjab: 4:00 pm IST (10:30 GMT), Eden Gardens, Kolkata
Friday 27th April 2018:
Delhi Daredevils vs Kolkata Knight Riders: 8:00 pm IST (14:30 GMT), Feroz Shah Kotla Ground, Delhi
Sunday 29th April 2018:
Royal Challengers Bangalore vs Kolkata Knight Riders: 8:00 pm IST (14:30 GMT), M. Chinnaswamy Stadium, Bengaluru
Thursday 3rd May 2018:
Kolkata Knight Riders vs Chennai Super Kings: 8:00 pm IST (14:30 GMT), Eden Gardens, Kolkata
Sunday 6th May 2018:
Mumbai Indians vs Kolkata Knight Riders: 4:00 pm IST (10:30 GMT), Wankhede Stadium, Mumbai
Wednesday 9th May 2018:
Kolkata Knight Riders vs Mumbai Indians: 8:00 pm IST (14:30 GMT), Eden Gardens, Kolkata
Saturday 12th May 2018:
Kings XI Punjab vs Kolkata Knight Riders: 4:00 pm IST (10:30 GMT), IS Bindra Stadium, Mohali
Tuesday 15th May 2018:
Kolkata Knight Riders vs Rajasthan Royals: 8:00 pm IST (14:30 GMT), Eden Gardens, Kolkata
Saturday 19th May 2018:
Sunrisers Hyderabad vs Kolkata Knight Riders: 8:00 IST (14:30 GMT), Rajiv Gandhi Intl. Cricket Stadium, Hyderabad
KKR full squad: Dinesh Karthik (c), Sunil Narine, Andre Russell, Chris Lynn, Tom Curran, Robin Uthappa, Kuldeep Singh Yadav, Piyush Chawla, Nitish Rana, Kamlesh Nagarkoti, Shivam Mavi, Mitchell Johnson, Shubman Gill, Ranganath Vinay Kumar, Rinku Singh, Cameron Delport, Javon Searless, Apoorv Vijay Wankhade, Ishank Jaggi.