When the auctions got over and Gambhir went back to his home side everyone would have thought that who would be captaining KKR. It would have been apparent to people that in Gauti’s absence Robin would be leading the side but then, KKR surprised people by declaring someone as their captain who was coming to their camp from the outside, unlike Uthappa who have been part of their side for years. But it didn’t take long for Karthik to justify and gain love not only from Bengali fans but he became the apple of nation’s eye overnight when he snatched the victory from jaws of defeat against Bangladesh by smacking a six off the last ball when 5 was needed to win that game. And, I feel that would also give Karthik some confidence going into the IPL after receiving affection from people all around the country to perform well as a player and a captain. Though KKR might have solved the problem around captaincy, they have got another huge setback in form of Starc getting ruled out of the league. Getting replacement of Starc is next to impossible though they have got Tom Curran we know what Starc brings with him to the table. Also, what concerns me more is that they don’t have anybody to replace, if not Russell then Chris Lynn for sure. Lynn, who seems to have some bad luck lurking around him have a tendency to get injured one or the other way. I wish he doesn’t get himself hurt this time the way he did during last IPL and BBL. Picking players from U19 WC squad with two quicks Mavi and Nagarkoti who impressed Ganguly with pace and skill, KKR have fortified their seam bowling front. And, with Shubman Gill, the WC hero, they could deepen their batting order. Another interesting thing is that KKR would be the only team who’d be playing with both their wicket-keeping options Karthik and Uthappa. It would be interesting to see who’d be keeping the wickets for KKR though Karthik would be the probable choice in my opinion. Considering KKR, they look balanced but they lack quality backups in batting and in all-rounder’s camp, if their main players are able to perform then it would be great for them.
Speaking of their batting order, I think they would go with Narine as an opener along with Chris Lynn. Narine, who’s not that effective in bowling as he used to be because of his bowling action being scrutinized a lot, has somehow proved to be a species willing to survive in the cricket arena by developing different skills to thrive and contribute to his team and game. At 3 it would be Robin to take the game forward after brisk hitting from Lynn and Narine. Following him, it should be Karthik at number four. Thereafter, it can be anybody depending on the situation between Russell and Nitish Rana, who had a good stint at MI last year. In the lower order, following Rana and Russell, I feel they could play anyone among U19 players. Though they can play either Curran or Johnson down the order I would go with Johnson who provides a left arm option and had nice BBL season recently. And I think last three would not be changed throughout the season which will comprise of Kuldeep who’d be owing his success at international level to KKR itself which provided him a chance to play and showcase his skills to the whole world, Piyush Chawla who have always performed well for KKR with bowling and batting as well and the Indian seamer and captain of Karnataka cricket team, Vinay Kumar who have not caught people’s eyes much but has been a consistent performer.
To sum it up, I feel if their key players are able to strike for them consistently in the tournament they can win the title but they need to make sure that their key players don’t get injured. Though they have Delport and Searles who may surprise people as well they don’t come with an aura like Lynn or Russell do. Talking of the key player, it has to be Andre Russell and the player I’ll be watching out for is Chris Lynn.
Tentative Playing XI :
1.) Chris Lynn 2.) Sunil Narine 3.) Robin Uthappa 4.) Dinesh Karthik 5.) Andre Russell 6.) Nitish Rana 7.) Gill /Nagarkoti /Mavi 8.) Johnson / Curran 9.) Piyush Chawla 10.) Kuldeep Yadav 11.) Vinay Kumar