Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) have a perfect blend of youth and experience in their squad for this year’s Indian Premier League. The franchise has certainly covered all the bases and will be keen to make a serious dash at the coveted trophy. Two-time Champions will be hoping for a third-time charm when the competition starts from 23rd March.
Pace bowlers Kamlesh Nagarkoti and Shivam Mavi have been ruled out of this year’s competition due to injuries. Kolkata have been the most consistent side in the past couple of years and even qualified for the playoffs last season. The franchise certainly made a notable acquisition to bolster their pace bowling as New Zealand’s Lockie Ferguson was signed during the IPL Auction event held in Jaipur last year.
Dinesh Karthik led-unit will be looking to get off to good start when they take on Sunrisers Hyderabad in their opening game of the competition. The side will be look to put in a clinical performance with bat and ball to beat Sunrisers Hyderabad.
Here are three players who can be game-changers this season and help Kolkata Knight Riders clinch their third title.
Captain Dinesh Karthik will need to lead from the front with the bat in this year’s competition. Wicket-keeper batsman scored close to 500 runs in last year’s competition and will need to show form with the bat this season. A good showing in this year’s IPL could seal his place in India’s limited-overs squad for the World Cup.
Karthik will be keen to prove point after rookie wicket-keeper Rishabh Pant failed to impress in the recently concluded one-day series against Australia. Karthik has shown excellent leadership since taking over captaincy duties from Gautam Gambhir, who left the franchise two years ago.
Kolkata Knight Riders will be hoping that Karthik can produce a strong statement with the bat in the 12th edition of Indian Premier League.
All-rounder Andre Russell is a destructive player in the T20 format. He can certainly change the complexion of the game in a space of few overs. Russell has a mind-boggling strike rate of 184.79 and also has a knack of pick up crucial wickets with the ball. He will be looking to do well with bat and ball in this year’s competition.
Last year, he scored close to 300 runs and claimed 13 wickets for Kolkata Knight Riders. He has been proven performer for the franchise and has won them games in crunch situations. Kolkata Knight Riders will be hoping that Russell can remain injury free and perform consistently with bat and ball.
Left-arm Chinaman Kuldeep Yadav has certainly been India’s premier in shorter formats of the game. He certainly has hogged the limelight due to his scintillating performances in one-day cricket for India.
There is no doubt that Kuldeep will be key to Kolkata’s fortunes this season. Last season, he claimed 17 wickets in 16 games to see Kolkata Knight Riders qualify for the playoffs. Left-arm spinner will be looking to continue his rich vein of form in this year’s competition.
There is no doubt that selectors and team management will be closely monitoring Yadav’s workload in the Indian Premier League. He could certainly miss the second leg of the competition in order to make adequate preparations with the Indian team for the upcoming Cricket World Cup that starts from 30th May.