The Kolkata Knight Riders might not be the strongest team overall on paper. However, they do have a few arsenal that are ready for a comeback in IPL 2019.
One of the things the Kolkata Knight Riders have had going for them through the IPL over the years has been their nurturance of spinners which have proven invaluable to their game plan. One expects the upcoming season of the IPL to be no different for the squad that is certainly going through a whirlwind transition without the reliance on a steady captain.
Sunil Narine, the West Indies spinner, became an instant hit with the Kolkata Knight Riders, picking up over sixty wickets, averaging twenty wickets each season, in the first three years he played for the team. His bowling action underwent scrutiny and although he has not been at his mesmeric best, Narine has been a flesh in the thorn for the opposition teams in the IPL.
The Kolkata Knight Riders went to break the bank to retain Chris Lynn, eventually pulling him back into their ranks for a humungous sum of 9.9 crore rupees. It has to be remembered that Chris Lynn was impressive in his early days with the IPL last season. Having seen what he is capable of, the Kolkata Knight Riders appeared to go for broke if only to ensure the player remained vital to their plans.
Flamboyant all-rounder Andre Russell sailed into the Kolkata Knight Riders’ team with as many expectations as did Kieron Pollard for the Mumbai Indians. A prolific dynamite with the bat, Russell has promised to deliver and the Kolkata Knight Riders have obviously seen enough to trust him coming through once more despite a year of personal challenges.
Although Russell began his IPL career with the Delhi Daredevils in 2012 and even walked away with a first of its kind four-wickets-in-four-successive-deliveries record, the bludgeoning batting style of the southpaw caught everyone’s attention. Once the Kolkata Knight Riders signed on the all-rounder in 2014, they knew they had a keeper on their hands.
It was, also, the year when the Kolkata Knight Riders lifted their second IPL trophy and as Russell went about establishing partnerships with the rest of the Kolkata Knight Riders batsmen to keep their good fortunes going, his role with the ball also grew into prominence often as a first change right arm bowler, even picking up the most number of wickets for his team in 2016.
The Kolkata Knight Riders, on paper, appear to have a few chinks in the armour which their coach, Jacques Kallis, will not find it easy to dodge alone. Dinesh Karthik is expected to have his hands full this season. Having had a chequered time in the Indian cricket team, Karthik knows full well the pressure to pull out all stops when given the opportunity. With limited captaincy opportunities in domestic cricket, Karthik will look to bring all of his cricketing resources to bear on the team. He now stands with a unique opportunity to showcase his vast experience and fortitude, innovation and capability in reshaping the Kolkata Knight Riders’ resurgence.
It is hard to live in the shadows of a more prominent cricketer with similar skill sets. But Piyush Chawla has done more than just hold his own against the towering presence of Sunil Narine who is arguably the leader of the spin team at the Kolkata Knight Riders.
Chawla, who began his IPL stint with the Kings XI Punjab, has fit rather nicely into the scheme of things with the Kolkata Knight Riders and forming a triumvirate of trouble for opposition teams along with Kuldeep Yadav. Chawla has been a beguiling leg spinner, bringing his international experience with the Indian team to lend weight to the fortunes of the Kolkata Knight Riders which has really seen a sea change since their reliance on spin as the force of their game plan.
Robin Uthappa will have an even greater role to play to keep the anthem loud amongst their fans. The orange cap winner in the 2014 season which was the second year when the Kolkata Knight Riders lifted the IPL trophy, Uthappa scored 660 runs that season.
Juggling multiple roles from wicket keeping, bolstering the middle order batting to even opening the innings, one may see Uthappa a floating powerhouse in the team depending on how they got off the blocks and how the rest of the lineup shapes up. Uthappa though is not unaccustomed to the vagaries of the team fortunes or of his own changing role within the team. Even within the Indian cricket, Uthappa has had to don various hats. Fortunately for the Kolkata Knight Riders, he remains one of the established members of their team as a flamboyant batsman and more than capable wicketkeeper who can lead both, knowledge and assistance, to Dinesh Karthik.