Kolkata Knight Riders are one of the most followed franchises in the IPL. They have a superstar owner in Shah Rukh Khan and a boisterous home crowd in the form of the die-hard Kolkata crowd. They also have some immensely popular players like Gautam Gambhir and Sunil Narine in their ranks. Due to all these factors, they are one of the most watched franchises in the IPL auctions.
The two-time champions have a very strong core squad and have retained 18 players which involves captain Gautam Gambhir, Manish Pandey and Yusuf Pathan among the 14 Indian players retained. The foreign names include spinner Sunil Narine and Chris Lynn. They have 19.75 crores left to spend.
Strategy for the IPL auction
Kolkata have been hit hard prior to the auction with the bombshell news that talismanic all-rounders Shakib Al Hasan and Andre Russell will not be available. Shakib Al Hasan will miss the start of the tournament and Andre Russell won’t be available for the entire duration due to a doping ban enforced upon him.
This almost certainly means that they will go all-out in their pursuit of English all-rounder Ben Stokes, who is the main attraction of this auction. It will be immensely difficult for them to sign him though, as other franchises are also likely to go big for the all-rounder.
They are also likely to go for a foreign pacer to compliment Umesh Yadav as they also don’t have the services of Morne Morkel anymore. It is also a re-laid wicket at the Eden Gardens, which isn’t like the slow and low wicket of the past years. The new pitch at Eden Gardens offers a fair bit of assistance to the seamers now, which will force KKR’s hands to change their strategy for the upcoming season.
Kolkata have a very solid core squad and with a few shrewd buys, will again challenge for the IPL title.