IPL 2018: SWOT analysis of the Kolkata Knight Riders
The Kolkata Knight Riders are known for building up a core set of players and entrusting faith in them for a sustained period. Over the years, they have nurtured many-a-young players like Manish Pandey, Surya Kumar Yadav and Kuldeep Yadav. This is part of the reason that they have won two IPL titles in 2012 and 2014.
KKR has also been a side which has taken tough decisions from time to time. They removed Sourav Ganguly from the captaincy in 2011 after he could not deliver the goods for three years and brought in young Gautam Gambhir in his place. Now, after seven years it’s time for Gambhir to step aside for Dinesh Karthik.
However, after being the leading contender for the title for years, the franchise is looking rather lackluster on paper this time around. Despite spending their entire purse in the auctions, KKR have got many loopholes to plug in IPL 2018. Let us have a look at the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats of the Kolkata Knight Riders in this year’s IPL.
With the likes of Sunil Narine, Kuldeep Yadav and Piyush Chawla, KKR have one of the most potent spin attack in IPL. The quality of these spinners is so good that KKR may be tempted to include all of them in the playing XI, with Narine slotted at the top of the batting order.
In Andre Russell, Kolkata have one of the finest pace bowling all-rounders in the world. Russell has an explosive strike rate of over 170 and also guarantees to bowl his full quota of four overs. Chris Lynn at the top of the order is another powerhouse and if he gets going, it becomes almost impossible for the opposition bowlers to stem the flow of runs.
KKR have a top notch team if all its assets are fit and firing but that is far from the reality. Their bowling lynchpin Mitchell Starc was ruled out of the IPL just a few days back and English pacer Tom Curran was named as his replacement. Chris Lynn may have started batting in the nets but he is also not 100% fit and it just recovering from a shoulder injury.
KKR rely heavily on the West Indies all-rounder Andre Russell who fills in the place of two players in the side. He too, had been out of competitive cricket due to a one-year ban and had just picked up a hamstring injury in the Caribbean Premier League. He has reportedly recovered but if the injury resurfaces mid season, KKR would well and truly be left in the lurch.
KKR’s newly crowned Captain Dinesh Karthik is not a newbie when it comes to captaincy. He has already led respective sides in the Vijay Hazare Trophy, the Duleep Trophy, the Tamil Nadu Premier League and the IPL as well. However, in the 6 games that he has led Delhi Daredevils in 2010 and 2014, the team has managed to win only 2 of them. It would be a great opportunity for Dinesh Karthik to improve his captaincy record in the IPL and marshal a relatively young side.
After their heroics in the U-19 World Cup, Shubman Gill, Shivam Mavi and Kamlesh Nagarkoti have been picked by the franchise at sizeable prices. Shubman Gill ended as the highest scorer for India in the U 19 World Cup and is being considered to be the next batting sensation to come out from the state of Punjab after Yuvraj Singh. While the youngsters may not get to feature in the playing XI in all the matches but they would get to learn a lot by just sharing the dressing room with some of the greats of the game.
In 2011, when Gautam Gambhir was given the captaincy in place of the homeboy Sourav Ganguly, he was an outsider for Kolkata. It was due to double championship victories that Gambhir was successful in making the boys rally behind him. Now in 2018, with Dinesh Karthik taking the mantle forward, it’s again an outsider who is in the limelight. One can only hope that Karthik meets the same fate as Gambhir, but he would certainly have his task cut out to settle in the culture of the team and then lead the boys.
Most batsmen that KKR have picked are suited to bat high up in the order. Chris Lynn, Robin Uthappa, Nitish Rana, Shubman Gill and Ishank Jaggi are all essentially top order batsmen. The promotion of Sunil Narine in the batting order may further complicate things for KKR.
© Cricket World 2018