IPL 2019: Kolkata Knight Riders - KKR SWOT Analysis - Strength, Weakness, Opportunity, Threat
Kolkata Knight Riders had been an average team in the initial IPL years but picked up under the captaincy of Gautam Gambhir and won the title in 2012 and 2014.
IPL 2018 was mostly about Dinesh Karthik finding his feet as the KKR skipper and trying to form 'his' team. One must say that he was successful to a large extent as the team, despite not having great resources, managed to qualify to the playoffs.
This year, Karthik would be much more assured about himself and would know his players better. Hence, it would bring a greater opportunity for the team to make a mark. KKR have released all their bowling big guns such as Mitchell Starc, Mitchell Johnson, Tom Curran and Vinay Kumar and a lot of fresh faces would be on show.
Kolkata Knight Riders' strongest point is the quality in their spin department. Their leading bowler this year is expected to be Kuldeep Yadav, who has proved his mettle against various international teams and his variations are yet to be cracked.
He has also developed a quicker ball which will further add to his repertoire of leg spin, googly and flipper. Kuldeep is a wicket-taker and has turned many-a-match around for India in the middle overs and is expected to repeat his heroics for his franchise as well.
After Sunil Narine's effectivity decreased with the ball, he has made it up by providing the team an option with the bat at the top of the order. Narine comes out in the middle with a free licence to wield his willow in the powerplay overs and it has started to come off more often in recent times.
The franchise depends a lot on their foreign core which consists of three players- Chris Lynn, Sunil Narine and Andre Russell. All these players are injury prone.
Lynn has had issues with his shoulder but has looked in better shape in the last six months or so. Sunil Narine suffered a finger injury in the Pakistan Super League and was ruled out of the entire tournament. After the change in his action, his effectivity has also come down as the batters have started to crack the code of his mystery spin.
Andre Russell's fitness has also been under question. It seems like he is playing with a niggle or two all the time. Russell's performances have also come down a bit because of the injuries. Rather than being consistent, he has turned into a player who might come off once in five or six matches. However, with the ability that he possesses both with the bat and ball, Russell can still turn the game around but for that he would need to be fit.
Kamlesh Nagarkoti impressed one and all in the under-19 World Cup and was bagged by Kolkata Knight Riders. Unfortunately, he picked up an injury and was not able to play in IPL 2018. Shivam Mavi had a good season last year and he promised a lot more in the absence of Michelle Stark and Vinay Kumar. But both have unfortunately suffered back injuries.
Sandeep Warrier, the Kerala medium pacer, and KC Cariappa, the Karnataka spinner, who went unsold at the auction, have been signed by Kolkata Knight Riders for the upcoming edition of the IPL as replacements for the injured pace duo of Kamlesh Nagarkoti and Shivam Mavi.
Warrier picked up eight wickets in six games, going at an economy of under six for Kerala in the Syed Mushtaq Ali T20 tournament. He was earlier with Royal Challengers Bangalore from 2013 to 2015 but didn't get a game.
Apart from these two, KKR have Prasidh Krishna who has been doing well for India A. Hence, all three of Sandeep Warrier, KC Cariappa and Prasidh Krishna will have an opportunity to deliver in the absence of senior Indian international bowlers.
The only international pacer that KKR have is Lockie Ferguson who has impressed with his pace in recent times. Not only does he have the ability to bowl at 150 kmph, he has good variations and a deceptive slower ball.
Apart from the injuries, their other concern will be that Chris Lynn might not be available for the latter half of the tournament as Cricket Australia has made it very clear that they would allow the players to participate in the IPL for only a given period.
In the case that Lynn returns to Australia which he will at some point, the team will have a tough time to find his replacement. Robin Uthappa is expected to open the batting in his absence but that will dilute the middle order.
Also, despite having a lot of potential, the team does not have too much experience in the pace bowling department. The side might particularly miss the services of a seasoned Indian fast bowler.
Retained players: Dinesh Karthik, Robin Uthappa, Chris Lynn, Andre Russell, Sunil Narine, Shubman Gill, Piyush Chawla, Kuldeep Yadav, Prasidh Krishna, Shivam Mavi, Nitish Rana, Rinku Singh, Kamlesh Nagarkoti
Purchased players in IPL Auction (Dec 18): Carlos Brathwaite (Rs 5 crore), Lockie Ferguson (Rs 1.60 crore), Anrich Nortje (Rs 20 lakh), Nikhil Naik (Rs 20 lakh), Harry Gurney (Rs 75 lakh), Yarra Prithviraj (Rs 20 lakh), Joe Denly (Rs 1 crore), Shrikant Mundhe (Rs 20 lakh)
Injury replacements: Sandeep Warrier, KC Cariappa
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