Kolkata Knight Riders were one of the surprise performers in the IPL this year. KKR had won IPL two times and an addition of fast bowlers would assist them to lift the 3rd in 2019.
One of the most exciting teams in the tournament, KKR had a phenomenal IPL 11 wherein they finished third in the league. After starting out as the underdogs, the Dinesh Karthik-led side performed brilliantly, with the old guns leading the way for the franchise. While the former stalwarts of the side like Sunil Narine, Chris Lynn, Andre Russell, and Kuldeep Yadav did well and guided KKR to the semis, the new buys disappointed.
This forced the side to release as many as eight players ahead of the auctions next months – with most being faster bowlers. After letting go of Mitchell Starc, Vinay Kumar, Javon Searles, Mitchell Johnson, and Tom Curran, KKR will be targeting the faster bowlers, especially if the tournament is going to be held in South Africa.
Kolkata Knight Riders have only 13 players in the squad currently and can buy 12 more players – seven Indians and five overseas cricketers in the upcoming IPL auctions. Here are the players the Shah Rukh Khan-owned side would be aiming for.
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Oshane Thomas stood out in the recently-concluded series between West Indies and India, troubling the Indian batters with his bounce and pace. He troubled the Indian openers throughout with his swing, and he has emerged as an exciting prospect for the West Indies. He was impressive in the T20I game at Eden Gardens, wherein he managed to scalp 2 wickets for 21 runs.
With the surface at Eden Gardens, the home ground of KKR, assisting the pacers in the last few seasons, Thomas could be a real threat. KKR require a tearaway pacer as well, and with almost 15.2 crores in their account, they are likely to go all out and bid for the West Indian.
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With extra pace, Lockie Ferguson might be a game-changer in the KKR unit. Like Thomas, the Kiwi fast-bowler is an out-and-out pacer, who is quite effective in the powerplay overs.
Against Pakistan in the recently-concluded series, he constantly troubled the rival layers with his straighter deliveries and shorter balls, which were bowled at a tremendous pace. His bouncers and variations in length could prove to be a huge advantage for the KKR unit at Eden Gardens.
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The Bengal captain had a disastrous IPL 2018 for Kings XI Punjab as he scored just 47 runs in 5 outings. However, he had been the linchpin of the Rising Pune Supergiant’s batting unit in 2017, with his efforts guiding the team to the finals. In 15 matches in 2017, Tiwary had amassed 324 runs with a strike-rate of 137.28.
One issue that plagued KKR this season was Robin Uthappa’s poor run of form throughout. With Chris Lynn likely to miss a major part of the tournament next season due to the World Cup, the side will need an experienced pro at the top. With Tiwary familiar with the conditions at Eden Gardens as well, KKR could very well bid for him.
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The bowler had been with the KKR set-up in 2016, and hence will be familiar with the conditions offered at Edens. With variations and left-arm pace, he will be an important element to the side if they decide to procure his services.
Unadkat had set IPL 2017 on fire, picking up more than 20 wickets for RPS, which meant that Rajasthan shelled out almost 11.5 crores this season to get him on board. However, he massively disappointed and is back in the pool, which allows KKR to bid for him.
With the franchise lacking an experienced Indian seamer, Unadkat could be a player they will be aiming for.
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With Lynn likely to be absent for a major part of the IPL, KKR could turn to South Africa’s Hashim Amla as a backup opener. His T20I records speak for himself – he has struck 1277 runs at a strike-rate of 132.06 and in 16 IPL games, he has scored at a brilliant rate of 141.76.
With Uthappa prone to inconsistency, Amla could be the anchor that the side has been looking for at the top.