Kolkata Knight Riders have come a long way from promising much and delivering little which had been a feature of their IPL campaigns in the first few seasons. The addition of Gautam Gambhir to the team and his appointment as captain in 2011 led to a quantum shift in their performances and they have won the tournament twice since.
What the franchise has done well this season is to retain much of its core — the architects of its inspired show over the past few years.
The loss of Andre Russell is surely a big blow, but they made some clever picks in the auction on 20 February, chief among them being speedster Kiwi Trent Boult and England all-rounder Chris Woakes and the young and talented West Indian Rovman Powell. The hard-hitting Yusuf Pathan and Bangladesh's Shakib Al Hasan add considerable weight to the team.
Getting a pacer of the quality of Rishi Dhawan for a relatively low price of Rs 55 lakh was a big gain for the Kolkata franchise. They would be buoyed by the form of Umesh Yadav and Kuldeep Yadav during the recently-concluded India vs Australia Test series, and Kuldeep pairing with Sunil Narine could be one of the most potent spin attacks of the IPL. The leadership of Gambhir has been an advantage for the team and will continue to do so.
All in all the squad looks pretty balanced, with all the departments well-managed, and look primed to make a strong push for their third IPL title.
KKR squad: Gautam Gambhir(c), Sunil Narine, Kuldeep Yadav, Manish Pandey, Suryakumar Yadav, Piyush Chawla, Robin Uthappa, Shakib Al Hasan, Chris Lynn, Umesh Yadav, Yusuf Pathan, Sheldon Jackson, Ankit Rajpoot, Trent Boult, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Darren Bravo, Rishi Dhawan, Chris Woakes, Rovman Powell, Ishank Jaggi, Sayan Ghosh, Ramsingh Sanjay Yadav, Colin de Grandhomme.