The Kolkata Knight Riders finished in third place in IPL 2018, missing out on a place in the final. The Dinesh Karthik-led side had a good season despite the injury to key pacer Mitchell Starc, whose absence rendered their pace attack rather ordinary.
Andre Russell, the spinners and captain Karthik saved KKR their blushes as they ensured the team performed out of their skins to remain competitive till the very end.
They have released the following players ahead of the auction:
Mitchell Starc, Mitchell Johnson, Tom Curran, Cameron Delport, Jonathan Searles, Ishank Jaggi, Apoorv Wankhede, Vinay Kumar
And they have retained the following players:
Dinesh Karthik, Robin Uthappa, Chris Lynn, Andre Russell, Sunil Narine, Shubman Gill, Prasidh Krishna, Shivam Mavi, Nitish Rana, Kamlesh Nagarkoti, Rinku Singh, Kuldeep Yadav, Piyush Chawla.
KKR now have a bigger purse, having released most of their underutilized and poorly performing overseas players. But they urgently need to strengthen their pace battery and their weak middle order, which promised a lot but didn't deliver as much.
Here are three all-rounders that KKR would look to target at the auction.
#3 Glenn Maxwell
The only reason why Maxwell's name isn't at the first spot in this list is because he might miss out on a few games in the IPL this year. That being said, he is one player who can make an impact in the few chances he gets.
KKR lacked a destructive player in their middle order last year. Once the openers perished there was rarely a good partnership between their batsman, and it was often left to Karthik to pick up the pieces.
Their momentum was hampered by Robin Uthappa's inconsistency. There was no one apart from Karthik and occasionally Russell or Nitish Rana to finish off games or help them post big totals.
Maxwell can fit in perfectly into this side. He is a destructive batsman who, if he stays patient and gets settled, can demolish any opposition attack on his own.
With there being chances of the IPL being moved out of India, Maxwell's utility would go up even further. He is a great fielder, more than handy with the ball, and will be a great buy for the KKR side - not only for this year but also as an investment for years to come.
#2 Chris Woakes
Chris Woakes underperformed for RCB last season, leaking runs at a very high rate. He left for England soon after that and failed to make amends.
Woakes was released by RCB ahead of the auction, and he can actually make an impact this season if another franchise buy him. He's had a decent international year both with the ball and bat, and can fill KKR's empty slot for an overseas pacer as well as pinch hitter.
Woakes can open the bowling since he is good with the new ball and hits the deck hard. He has played for KKR before, and had a decent season in the few opportunities he was given before being bought by RCB in the auction.
Woakes can flourish at KKR and become their strike bowler, thereby making a neat little comeback to his former side.
#1 Carlos Brathwaite
The Caribbean all-rounder was released by Sunrisers Hyderabad ahead of the auction. He made a name for himself when he slammed 4 sixes to win West Indies the 2016 World T20 in the final which was held at...yes, Kolkata.
There is certainly no better place for Brathwaite than KKR. He has become more of a bowling all-rounder in recent times, but still possesses the muscle to pack a big punch in the death overs.
Brathwaite can compliment Russell well and take over part of the bowling duties from him, allowing him to focus more on his devastating batting.
Last season KKR lacked an all-rounder who could bowl apart from Sunil Narine, as Russell's surgery meant that he was a bit ineffective with the ball in hand and was expensive. Brathwaite can fit in perfectly in the KKR setup, and should feel comfortable in the company of Russell and Narine.
His bowling can be a major boost for them and he can add a few valuable runs with the bat as well. With the money that KKR have in their purse, Brathwaite is a great option.