IPL auctions 2016 is over and Delhi Daredevils have performed differently from others (pun intended). Their bids were hard to understand. But here I am going to talk about that one IPL team which looks the best on paper at the moment. For me, it is none other than Kolkata Knightriders.
Going into the auction, they already had what all they needed and just went after 1-2 players, mainly pace bowling all-rounder, to boost their lower order batting for away games. This doesn’t mean they don’t have that depth in the batting, but guys like Carlos Brathwaite and Jason Holder gives you the extra luxury of bowling, and their six hitting abilities. KKR managed to get Jason Holder.
I agree that a slight fraction of this is because I support them. But their performance in the previous few editions, you can’t disagree. Their core team remains the same to what it has been for past 2-3 seasons and they have tasted success. Mumbai Indians also look a decent one but it’s not hidden that they haven’t fared well in away matches. RCB’s bowling is still a concern. And even RCB has failed to win away games, much because Gayle needs a flat track to be consistent and his record on low and slow tracks won’t please any franchise.
I agree that winning home games is very important and teams have resorted to buying players to suit their home conditions. If not, RCB and MI would have never made it to the semi-finals. Even KKR does the same, but their away performance is more acceptable. Nothing new for an IPL follower to see a low and slow track at Eden Gardens, KKR playing 4-5 spinning options and winning the matches.
They way this franchise has backed its players is praiseworthy. None other would have even given Yusuf Pathan a long run, given his miserable form, but only to see him clicking and winning 1-2 matches on his own. Others could have easily left Narine to go to the auction. But not KKR.
Let’s have a look at their squad
Image credits: KKR’s twitter handle
For home conditions, they can put an 11, consisting of 4-5 spinners and run away with the game. However, it will be interesting to see if Narine can bowl or not, given his action was questioned earlier. But even without Narine, KKR has a spin attack, unparallel to any other side. Shakib al Hasan, Piyush Chawla, Kuldeep Yadav, Brad Hogg and add the part-time spin of Yusuf Pathan. A batting attack filled with players who play spin pretty well. Their top order consists of top class Indian players in Uthappa, Gambhir, Manish Pandey and Yusuf Pathan. Shakib along with Surya Kumar Yadav will make up the middle order. Wait, if you think you escaped after getting rid of all these, the fact that Russell is set to come in next won’t please you. The fact that BBL star Chris Lynn will find it almost impossible to get a place in the 11 for home games speaks volumes on this team. Their pace attack has been underrated, given the spinners mostly do the major damage at home. But an attack consisting of Morne Morkel, Andre Russell, Umesh Yadav and probably one more in Holder or Hastings can never be taken lightly.
A score of 150-160 is what KKR will be happy with. They can defend it more often than not and can chase it down as well. Their likely 11 at home should be.
Gautam Gambhir, Robin Uthappa, Manish Pandey, Yusuf Pathan, Surya Kumar Yadav, Shakib al Hasan, Andre Russell, Jason Holder/John Hastings, Piyush Chawla, Kuldeep Yadav, Brad Hogg/ Sunil Narine
On a turning track, no team even comes close to them. CSK was close because of having decent spinners and players of spin but now, none of the business. It will always be KKR’s match to lose at home.
Coming to away matches, KKR’s record may not be as good as their home record, but I really don’t see a reason in that. Maybe, other teams are better equipped for their home conditions. Say for example, RCB will and should expect Gayle to fire at Bangalore, given his record but if they expect him to fire at Eden Gardens, it’s much like Indian parents expecting his ward to emerge as topper in Science, given they know that their ward is poor at Science but a hero in dancing.
KKR has everything to put forward for each condition. Top notch pace bowling attack for a seaming track and hitters who can tear apart any bowling attack, for a flat track. For tracks like SRH’s home ground in Hyderabad, they don’t need to change their lineup, because they are similar to the ones at Eden Gardens. For other away matches, they will need to bring in more pacers in place of their spinners. Umesh Yadav should make way for either Kuldeep Yadav or Piyush Chawla and if Narine isn’t cleared, I would prefer another pacer in the lineup.
Set any target, they can chase it down. Any target set, they have all in the to defend it.
Likely 11: Gautam Gambhir, Robin Uthappa, Manish Pandey, Yusuf Pathan, Shakib al Hasan, Surya Kumar Yadav, Andre Russell, Jason Holder, John Hastings, Piyush Chawla/Kuldeep Yadav, Umesh Yadav
Andre Russell will always be used as a floater in the batting order and is the key to this lineup. Their backstage members are high class. Trevor Bayliss, Vijay Dahiya and Wasim Akram have been outstanding. For now, there is no denying the fact that this is KKR’s IPL to lose. None apart from Mumbai Indians should pose them any problem.
Note: This is a personal opinion. The author can be followed on twitter. He tweets here https://twitter.com/crickBC