IPL team preview - Kolkata Knight Riders on the look out for their third title

Gautam Gambhir will be hoping to lead from the front
Gautam Gambhir will be hoping to lead from the front
©IANS
 

Kolkata Knight Riders led by Gautam Gambhir will be looking to bring their Indian Premier League campaign on track after a not so successful outing in the previous two seasons.

The team's fortunes took a turn after Gambhir took over the reins from former Indian captain Sourav Ganguly and have clinched the title two times in the last five years. Bowling has been the biggest strength of the team and are backed by a perfect combination that suit their home ground - Eden Gardens. Andre Russell's one-month ban will be a big blow to their fortunes but they have recruited in-form Chris Woakes and Rovman Powell to boost their chances.

Jacques Kallis will continue to be the head coach while the absence of Wasim Akram will see Lakshmipathy Balaji taking over the role of bowling coach this season.

Performances in last three editions

After winning the title in the 2014 season, they failed to make it to the play-offs in the 2015 season. In the previous edition, they were convincingly defeated by the eventual champions Sunrisers Hyderabad in the eliminator and finished fourth in the table.

Released Players

A total of nine players including Colin Munro, Jason Holder, Brad Hogg, Shaun Tait, John Hastings and Morne Morkel was released by the franchise while Russell will remain unavailable. Despite the ban, the franchise did not release Russell, with an intention to retain him for the next three seasons beginning from 2018.

Bought Players

The did well to get in Woakes and Powell to offset the loss of Russell while Trent Boult and Nathan Coulter-Nile are the other additions to their pace department. Indian locals Rishi Dhawan, Ishank Jaggi, Sayan Ghosh and Sanjay Yadav were also added to the squad.

Key Performers:

Sunil Narine - With a total of 85 wickets from 66 matches, Narine continues to be the leading wicket-taker for Kolkata Knight Riders despite missing few matches because of suspected action. His variations makes it tough for the batsmen to go after him in the shortest format and Gambhir has been exceptional in capitalising on the Trinidad spinner. He will once again be the key for the Knight Riders.

Chris Woakes - The England all-rounder has been in prolific form with both bat and the ball as seen in the ODI series in West Indies. His ability to hit the ball clean and generate pace in bowling makes him one of the dangerous player in the limited overs format.

Squad

Gautam Gambhir (c), Sunil Narine, Andre Russell, Kuldeep Yadav, Manish Pandey, Suryakumar Yadav (vc), Piyush Chawla, Robin Uthappa, Shakib Al Hasan, Chris Lynn, Umesh Yadav, Yusuf Pathan, Sheldon Jackson, Ankit Rajpoot, Chris Woakes, Rovman Powell, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Darren Bravo, Ishank Jaggi, Sayan Ghosh, Sanjay Yadav, Rishi Dhawan

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