New Delhi: Kolkata Knight Riders have been one of the most consistent teams in the Indian Premier League (IPL) over the years, having lifted the title twice since the inception of the league in 2008. Once again, Kolkata have put together a formidable squad and are ready to take the IPL by storm in the tenth edition of the tournament.
Here is a look at the strengths and weaknesses of the Kolkata Knight Riders and who could be their possible trump card.
1. CAPTAIN MARVEL
Skipper Gautam Gambhir joined the KKR ranks in 2011 from Delhi Daredevils and completely changed the fortunes of the franchisee in the league. Before Gauti, Kolkata never managed to get past the league stage in the first three seasons, however, in his first season at the helm, Gambhir guided Kolkata to the playoffs. In the following season, Gambhir's Kolkata thumped MS Dhoni's Chennai Super Kings in the final to win the title in spectacular style in 2012. Kolkata tasted title success once again in 2014 under the leadership of Gautam Gambhir.
It's not just his leadership but his batting as well that makes Gambhir one of the MVPs of the tournament. In nine editions so far, Gambhir has played 132 matches, in which he has scored 3634 runs for his teams. The southpaw has also crossed the fifty-run mark 31 times in the IPL.
2. TALENTED INDIAN BATSMEN
Kolakta boasts of a pleotra of talented Indian batsmen as apart from skipper Gambhir, the team also has Robin Uthappa, Yusuf Pathan, Manish Pandey and Suryakumar Yadav in their ranks. Uthappa and Pathan have been proven match-winners on both the International and the IPL arena in the past, while youngsters like Pandey and Yadav are more than capable middle-order batsmen.
KKR has not one but two mystery spinners in their squad and that in itself makes their bowling department seem very strong. West Indian spinner Sunil Narine has been destroying teams in the IPL since 2012 and in the 65 matches that he has played so far, Narine picked up a whopping 85 wickets in the league.
Meanhwile, India's young chinaman bowler Kuldeep Yadav was a breakthrough star for KKR last term and his four-wicket show in the first innings of the Dharamsala Test between India and Australia showed why he is so highly rate by skipper Gambhir.
Not to forget Shakib Al Hasan who has been in tremendous form for Bangladesh coming into the tournament. Leggie Piyush Chawla is also there to add an extra dimension to the Kolkata bowling whenever called upon by Gambhir and coach Jacques Kallis.
1. OVERSEAS BATSMEN
Apart from West Indian Darren Bravo, there is no overseas player in the squad who can be called as a proven match-winner as far as batting is concerned. However, Australian Chris Lynn has been an impact player in the Big Bash League over the years, but he still remains a relatively unknown quantity as far as international cricket is concerned.
2. NO ANDRE RUSSELL
The absence of Andre Russell will be a huge blow for KKR as the West Indian is regarded as one of the best all-rounders in the shortest format of the game. Although, Kiwi star Colin de Grandhomme has been called in as replacement for Russell, but Kolkata will definitely miss the services of their star man. Last season, Russell was one of Kolkata's top performers, having picked up 15 wickets as well scoring 188 runs in 12 matches that he played for the two-time champions.
Undoubtedly, the trump card for KKR will once again be Sunil Narine, who really comes into his own whenever he takes to the field in the Indian Premier League. In the last two season, Narine managed to pick just 18 wickets in comparisons to his 67 wickets in his first three season in the league. If Narine rediscovers his lethal form, not many batsmen in the league can withstand his tricky variations.
2017 PREDICTION: KNOCKOUTS
Kolkata remains one of the favorites to go far into the tournament and if their batmen find rhythm early in the league, Gautam Gambhir's team might just have the last laugh come May 21.