Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) purchased 19 players at the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2022 mega auction held over two days in Bengaluru. Shreyas Iyer was their biggest purchase at Rs 12.25 crore from the marquee set. The franchise has confirmed that Iyer will be the captain of the team. Apart from picking Iyer, KKR also bought back pacers Pat Cummins and Shivam Mavi (both for Rs 7.25 crore each) and batter Nitish Rana (Rs 8 crore), all of whom were released ahead of the auction. Before the bidding, KKR had retained Andre Russell for Rs 12 crore, Varun Chakravarthy for Rs 8 crore, Venkatesh Iyer for Rs 8 crores and Sunil Narine for Rs 6 crore. Here’s an analysis of KKR’s performance at the auction.
Without a doubt, Iyer and Cummins were KKR’s two massive picks at the IPL auction. Both are match-winners in their own right. Iyer has proved himself as a leader, having been instrumental in Delhi Capitals’ (DC) renaissance in the IPL. He is viewed as a very calm and composed character who can get the best out of players. Also, he is an extremely smart batter. Iyer may not be seen as an outright big-hitter, but he can score at a swift pace and is very adept at pacing his innings. If he performs to potential, KKR will benefit doubly – from Iyer the skipper and Iyer the batter.
Australian Test captain Cummins is also a welcome purchase for KKR. He had done very well for the franchise last season, and the only reason he wasn’t retained was because there were slots for only four cricketers. Cummins has that extra pace to trouble batters in the T20 format. Accuracy is also one of his strengths, and he is a highly underrated big-hitter with the willow. Last year, he nearly pulled off a miraculous win in a game against Chennai Super Kings (CSK) from a position of no hope.
It was a tale of all or nothing for KKR at the auction. There is nothing much to write home about if we look beyond Iyer and Cummins. Rana is a good batter who can chip in with some off-spin. But KKR could have done better than spending a whopping Rs 8 crore of him. They couldn’t purchase too many other big names because of the massive amount they shelled out for him and Mavi.
Ajinkya Rahane’s inclusion for Rs 1 crore is debatable. Apart from the all-round skills of Mohammad Nabi (Rs 1 crore), KKR have gone for Umesh Yadav, who is no longer an asset in T20 cricket, for Rs 2 crore. It seems they would heavily depend on the retained Chakravarthy and Narine in the bowling, apart from Cummins. The 4th and 5th bowler could be an issue.
Big-hitting Englishman Alex Hales (Rs 1.5 crore) could be a potential X factor among the players picked. Hales no longer figures in the England team owing to his controversies. However, he has continued to dazzle in franchise T20 cricket. On his day, Hales can be the most destructive batter on earth and can destroy bowling attacks with disdain. This is precisely why KKR have picked him.
Verdict? A lost opportunity
KKR had retained four match-winners in Andre Russell, Varun Chakravarthy, Venkatesh Iyer and Sunil Narine. They had a chance to make the team a lot more robust but missed out on a few tricks.
KKR squad: Pat Cummins, Andre Russell, Varun Chakravarthy, Venkatesh Iyer, Sunil Narine, Shreyas Iyer (captain), Nitish Rana, Shivam Mavi, Sheldon Jackson, Ajinkya Rahane, Rinku Singh, Anukul Roy, Rasikh Dar, B Indrajith, Abhijeet Tomar, Pratham Singh, Ashok Sharma, Sam Billings, Alex Hales, Ramesh Kumar, Mohammad Nabi, Umesh Yadav, Aman Khan