Kolkata Knight Riders have been one of the most successful franchises in the Indian Premier League with two trophies in their cabinet. Although they started IPL on a slower note, they became a formidable team once Gautam Gambhir was made the captain of the team. However, Gambhir left KKR before the previous season which meant that KKR had to form a new squad under a different captain.
KKR had a different approach in the previous auctions and they were undecided on their captain after the auctions ended. Later, Dinesh Karthik was appointed as the captain of the team which was a good move. The Tamil Nadu wicketkeeper-batsman led the Kolkata based franchise to the playoffs in the 2018 season before they faltered in the knockouts to Sunrisers Hyderabad.
KKR have retained a core set of players around which a good team can be constructed if they make smart choices at the auction. Accordingly, we have compiled a well-balanced XI which KKR should aim for the upcoming season.
Openers: Chris Lynn and Robin Uthappa
Openers are a vital part of any team and it becomes more important in the shortest format as a good beginning is good for the team. Lynn and Narine opened for KKR last season with Narine's role being restricted as an explosive batsman. It has clicked in a few cases but teams would soon come out with a plan to tackle it.
In most cases, Narine fails which would add pressure on the batting order with an early wicket gone. Hence, KKR should go for stability at the top and can use Narine as a floater in certain cases. Uthappa is a genuine opener and his partnership with Lynn could be dangerous.
Considering Lynn's limited availability next season, KKR could bid for the experienced Brendon McCullum too.
Middle-Order: Shubman Gill, Dinesh Karthik, and Nitish Rana
KKR have got a good young batsman in Shubman Gill and they need to give him opportunities at the top to speed his development. Gill has been good on certain occasions previous seasons and he could play with a lot more freedom with DK and Russell coming after him.
Nitish Rana is useful as a left-hander in the middle-order and he can bowl a few overs too. Dinesh Karthik will continue his role as the wicketkeeper-captain next season too. KKR can also buy backups for the middle-order with Yuvraj Singh and Manoj Tiwary available in the market.
All-Rounders: Andre Russell and Sam Curran
Sam Curran will be a hot prospect in the upcoming auctions. He has put himself in the 2 Crore club and will trigger a bidding war on December 18th. He is a good left-arm seamer and a decent batsman at No.7. He is young too and could be a good investment for the future.
Andre Russell will once again form an integral part of the KKR team and his performances will be vital for the team's outcome. KKR must keep his fragility in mind and should plan for suitable backups like Dan Christain or Carlos Braithwaite.
Bowlers: Sunil Narine, Shivam Mavi, Kuldeep Yadav, and Mohammed Shami
KKR can afford flexibility in their bowling department next season. Sunil Narine and Kuldeep Yadav form a potent spin partnership and Piyush Chawla can be included too on spin-friendly wickets. They can also include an additional overseas fast-bowler if Narine does not perform well in some matches.
KKR lacked an experienced domestic fast bowler last season. Hence, Shami is a good option available in the market and he is a local lad too. If not Shami, KKR can also try the likes of Mohit Sharma or Jaydev Unadkat too.
KKR has a good young fast-bowling trio in Prasidh Krishna, Shivam Mavi, and Kamlesh Nagarkoti. Hence, all these bowlers could be given with enough chances to prove their potential. Mavi and Kamlesh are also useful lower-order batsman which is an asset in the T20 format.