Kolkata Knight Riders, a team which boasts of one of the strongest fan bases would be giving all the spectators a roller-coaster ride as they enter the upcoming edition of IPL with an overhauled team.

One of the most consistent sides of the Indian Premier League over the years, KKR  has won two IPL titles and they return this year with Dinesh Karthik as their captain.

This year the knights step into the ground with raw grit and determination, out of which they will aim to carve out, sheer perfection.

The team is lack-lustre this season, but the unpredictability and the ability to emerge stronger amidst all the hustle-bustle- Isn’t this the real flair of the KKR?

Owner: Shah Rukh Khan (Red Chillies Entertainment), Juhi Chawla, Jay Mehta (Mehta Group)

Captain: Dinesh Karthik

Coach: Jacques Kallis

As the ‘Best v Best’ tournament is all set to compliment the blazing sun from 7 April, let’s have a sneak-peak to the strengths, weaknesses, squad and the probable XI of the Kolkata Knight Riders:

Strengths:

On one hand, where most of the franchises concentrated on including big-hitters in their teams, Kolkata Knight Riders decided to take the road-not-taken and vie for spinners. Making a smart move, KKR retained West Indies off-spinner Sunil Narine. Apart from Narine, KKR also used Right-to-match card to secure Kuldeep Yadav and Piyush Chawla to strengthen their bowling arsenal. Moreover, they have shown immense faith in the young guns this season. By placing their bids on U-19 top-order batsmen Shubhman Gill and pacers Kamlesh Nagarkoti and Shivam Mavi, Kolkata gave a glimpse of how they wish to shape the raw talent to inculcate maturity into them.

KKR bid high for enrolling Aussie explosive batsman Chris Lynn who might prove to be a one-man army for the team. He would bring batting depth to the side along with likes of Robin Uthappa and Dinesh Karthik. Moving forward, we can definitely not underestimate the destructive abilities of Dinesh Karthik who can rip the bowlers apart.

Also Read: Mumbai Indians Team Preview

Weakness:

KKR needs to deal with the troubles looming over their heads well in advance.

Kolkata Knight Riders will definitely miss their former skipper Gautam Gambhir, the major force behind KKR’s tactical excellence. KKR has the lowest bench strength among the franchises as they have built their squad with only 19 players. Even if one picks up an injury, they might end up finding it hard to find ideal replacements in the bench.

Dinesh Karthik is a well-experienced batsman but it would be worthwhile to watch if he comes out strong as the captain. Thus, Karthik’s rookie leadership skills, in terms of IPL, might also prove to be a hurdle for the team. Moreover, their middle order lacks strength.  They may send Shubhman Gill, Nitish Rana, Ishank Jaggi to bat in the middle order- but again, their efficiency is untested. These are the pitfalls that might give KKR a headache.

Probable XI:

Chris Lynn, Robin Uthappa, Shubhman Gill, Dinesh Karthik, Nitish Rana, Ishank Jaggi, Andre Russell, Kuldeep, Sunil Narine, Apoorv Wankhede, Kamlesh Nagarkoti

Squad:

Andre Russell, Sunil Naraine, Kuldeep Yadav, Chris Lynn, Dinesh Karthik, Robin Uthappa, Piyush Chawla, Kuldeep Yadav, Ishank Jaggi, Kamlesh Nagarkoti, Nitish Rana, Vinay Kumar, Apoorv Wankhade, Rinku Singh, Shivam Mavi, Cameron Delport, Mitchell Johnson, Javin Searless, Shubhman Gill

Note: Mitchell Starc has been ruled out of the IPL and KKR is yet to find his replacement.

Statistics:

 

RankYearCaptainTop BowlerTop BatsmanWin %
6th2008Sourav GangulyUmar Gul (12 wickets)Sourav Ganguly (349 runs)46.16
8th2009Brendon MccullumIshant Sharma (11 wickets)Brad Hodge (365 runs)23.07
6th2010Sourav GangulyAshok Dinda (9 wickets)Sourav Ganguly (493 runs)50
4th2011Gautam GambhirYusuf Pathan (13 wickets)Jacques Kallis (424 runs)53.33
Winners2012Gautam GambhirSunil Narine (24 wickets)Gautam Gambhir (590 runs)70.58
6th2013Gautam GambhirSunil Narine (22 wickets)Gautam Gambhir (406 runs)37.50
Winners2014Gautam GambhirSunil Narine (21 wickets)Robin Uthappa (660 runs)68.75
5th2015Gautam GambhirAndre Russell (14 wickets)Robin Uthappa (364 runs)53.84
4th2016Gautam GambhirAndre Russell (15 wickets)Gautam Gambhir (501 runs)53.33
3rd2017Gautam GambhirChris Woakes (17 wickets)Gautam Gambhir (498 runs)57.14

Evidently, KKR has taken a huge gamble this season. With weak willow-wielders but strong bowlers, would Karthik-led KKR be able to repeat their triumph or would they surrender before the mighty star-studded sides? Only, time would tell!

Betting Odds:

As per odds checker, the following are the odds of KKR:

Best Batsman: Chris Lynn: 11/8

Best Bowler: Sunil Narine: 3

Chances of winning: 11/2