Kolkata Knight Riders have arranged a team that is full of youth and experience for the upcoming edition of the Indian Premier League.
The side will be gunning for their third trophy this season and though they have suffered injury setbacks with Kamlesh Nagarkoti, Shivam Mavi, and Andrich Nortje being ruled out, they have enough firepower to overcome the challenges.
The franchise have qualified for the playoffs six times in the last 11 seasons and have always managed to maintain their core group of players. Last season they added players like Dinesh Karthik to the ranks, and he will be one of the key players for the team in the upcoming season. Here are the 4 key players from KKR to watch out for.
4. Dinesh Karthik
A lot will be riding on Karthik’s shoulders this year. The wicket-keeper batsman, was one of the guiding lights for KKR last season, amassing 498 runs to finish as his side’s highest run-scorer. This time, he will have the added incentive of sealing the coveted World Cup spot, and with Rishabh Pant failing in the recent ODI series against Australia, Karthik’s spot has opened up.
The Tamil Nadu player, who took over the reins from Gautam Gambhir last season had big shoes to fill and has done a fine job till now, marshaling his inexperienced players. He even allowed the younger batting stars to play their natural game, whilst holding one end up in the batting order and the skipper will be hoping that his team can go the distance this time too.
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3. Shubman Gill
The talented top-order batter scored 203 runs in 13 matches at an impressive average of 33.83 in IPL 2018. The Punjabi, who came into the limelight after a string of impressive knocks in the Under-19 World Cup that was held last year, has been in fine form in domestic cricket as well.
Gill is equipped with a solid technique and an attacking mindset, which was even applauded by Virat Kohli earlier this year. He made his international debut in 2019, but failed to make a mark and was subsequently overlooked for the home series against Australia. However, the batsman has enough capabilities to make a strong comeback, and he will be vying for just that.
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2. Lockie Ferguson
KKR have made a bargain buy as they procured the services of Lockie Ferguson, who will come into the tournament with some impressive showings in domestic cricket. The New Zealand player earlier played for the Rising Pune Supergiants in 2017 where he could play only four games. Ferguson, who looked a doubtful starter till a week ago, is expected to handle the pace bowling department for KKR this season, with three of their seam bowlers being ruled out.
With the track at Eden Gardens assisting the pacers off late, Ferguson will have a huge role to play in the powerplay and the death overs. His ability to bowl yorkers and bouncers at will makes him a dangerous bet and he could be KKR’s X-factor.
1. Andre Russell
Russell has always been the key player in the KKR line-up and this season will be no different. Last season, the West Indian scored 316 runs at a stunning strike-rate of 184.79 and picked up 13 wickets as well, to end the season as one of the best all-rounders. His ability to change the game in just a few overs – with either bat, ball or his fielding, ensures that Russell is never out of the game and KKR will be relying on his expertise in crunch moments.