While purchasing Stokes will come with its own risks, it is worth taking the punt. There is no better all-rounder in world cricket than the England cricketer at present.

Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) engineered a stunning turnaround in Indian Premier League (IPL) 2021 to reach the final of the edition. At the halfway stage, KKR were languishing at the bottom half of the points table. But, they were brilliant in the UAE leg and ended up making it to the summit clash, where they went down to Chennai Super Kings (CSK). Unlike some of the other franchises, KKR did not have a tough task picking the four players they wanted to retain. The names were pretty much on expected lines. Andre Russell (Rs 12 crore), Varun Chakravarthy (Rs 8 crore), Venkatesh Iyer (Rs 8 crore), Sunil Narine (Rs 6 crore). If anything, they would have pondered hard on the pay package to hand out to the players. Since the franchise retained four players, they have a purse of Rs 48 crore left for the mega auction. Keeping in mind the same, we take a look at five players KKR could target at the auction in January. 

One big purchase: Ben Stokes (10-12 crore)

Rajasthan Royals (RR) released England all-rounder Ben Stokes ahead of the IPL 2022 mega auction on expected lines. Stokes played only one match for the franchise in the IPL 2021 season before picking up a finger injury while fielding. He did not return for the second half in the UAE due to mental health issues. 

While purchasing Stokes will come with its own risks, it is worth taking the punt. There is no better all-rounder in world cricket than the England cricketer at present. In the past, KKR have spent huge sums on the likes of fast bowler Pat Cummins. While the Aussie did not do badly, he could not live up to expectations. When it comes to Stokes, he will be expected to deliver if fit and ready to go. Will Stokes be on KKR’s mind?

Elite purchases: Deepak Chahar, Shubman Gill (4-6 crore)

KKR retained their spinners Varun Chakravarthy and Sunil Narine for Rs 8 crore and Rs 6 crore, respectively, ahead of the IPL 2022 auction. They would be looking to purchase a quality pace bowler at the IPL 2022 mega auction. Deepak Chahar, who has impressed for Chennai Super Kings (CSK) in recent years, could be a good option. The pace bowler claimed 14 wickets in 15 matches at an economy rate of 8.35. He had a mixed run but, at his best, claimed two four-wicket hauls. KKR could target him at the auction.

Also, KKR should look to buy back Shubman Gill at the mega auction. Gill and Venkatesh Iyer complemented each other perfectly during IPL 2021. While Gill looked below par in the first half, he was a transformed player in the second half, opening up impressively. He ended IPL 2021 with 478 runs in 17 matches at a strike rate of 118.90, which included three fifty-plus scores. KKR must look to reunite Gill-Iyer ahead of IPL 2022.

Decent purchases: Nathan Coulter-Nile, Rahul Tripathi (1-3 crore)

Australian pacer Nathan Coulter-Nile made a genuine impact for Mumbai Indians (MI) in the few matches that he played in the IPL 2021 season. He claimed seven wickets in five matches at a brilliant economy rate of 6.35 and a best of 4/14. Coulter-Nile brings with him a lot of experience at the international and domestic levels. He is a battle-hardened cricketer who can be expected to deliver under tough circumstances. A highly under-utilized player for sure.

KKR must also try and get back Rahul Tripathi in the mix. The aggressive batter had a memorable IPL season with the bat until he got injured in the final. Tripathi smashed 397 runs in 17 matches at a strike rate of 140.28. He provided the momentum to Kolkata’s innings in the middle overs more often than not. And who can forget that nerveless six he hit off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin to put KKR in the final.

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