IPL 2014 Team Preview - Kolkata Knight Riders

Gautam Gambhir
Gautam Gambhir has a huge role to play for Kolkata Knight Riders
©REUTERS / Action Images

It is very hard to assess how Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) will play in this year’s IPL - they have covered all the bases but yet you feel something is missing.

The history of KKR in IPL has not been that good except in 2012 when they won the title.

This team is led by India’s discarded opener Gautam Gambhir who might be itching to make a statement this time around. He, along with Jacques Kallis and Robin Uthappa will make the top three of their batting order.

They have utility players like Shakib Al Hasan and Ryan ten Doeschate who can bat in the middle order and bowl a couple of overs when required. Then they have the exciting prospects of Chris Lynn and Yusuf Pathan.

The key for KKR will be the combination with which they play as the options are plenty but at the same time only four overseas players can play. During his stint with the Rajasthan Royals Pathan used to be the most destructive batsman in IPL but he has failed to reproduce the same kind of performances with KKR.

An in-form Yusuf Pathan will be a great asset for the team as he scores runs very quickly and has the ability to make an impact with his big hitting. Manish Pandey is another batsman whom we might see playing in the middle order.

Sunil Narine is one of the players (along with Gambhir) KKR has retained and he has been a top bowler both in the IPL and at international level. KKR will once again rely on Narine to provide crucial breakthroughs and bowl tight. Indian leggie Piyush Chawla will complete the spin duo for the team and if required Pathan can also chip in with his off-spin.

They also have the luxury of slow left-arm spin from Shakib who has been quite successful for his country. The addition of Pat Cummins and Morne Morkel in the pace department is an interesting choice along with Indian pacers Vinay Kumar and Umesh Yadav.

We may also see Kallis bowling a couple of overs and even though he retired from Test cricket, make no mistake of ignoring him. The West Indies all-rounder Andre Russell is also in the team. It isn't clear whether he will make the playing XI but is a good option to have nevertheless.

Looking at the KKR squad one thing is clear - they have many options in both batting and bowling but the tricky part will be who to play and who to leave out. Another factor which may impact their progress is the lack of a destructive batsman at the top of the order. Their batting order is more suited for one-day rather than T20 cricket and only time will tell how they perform this year.

A lot will depend on how both Gautam Gambhir and Sunil Narine plays but KKR will expect Yusuf Pathan to fire this time.

© Cricket World 2014