Kolkata Knight Riders IPL 2013 preview April 1, 2013

Kolkata Knight Riders look for repeat

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Big Picture

"We can do a CSK" is the line coming out of the Kolkata Knight Riders' camp. However, in contrast to the consistent performances from more than one player that took Chennai Super Kings to consecutive titles in 2010 and 2011, Knight Riders have their shortcomings, evident during their dismal run during last year's Champions League Twenty20 in South Africa, where they earned a solitary (and irrelevant) victory before making an exit.

Annoyingly for Knight Riders, the difficult questions continue to persist. Gautam Gambhir and Jacques Kallis, the top two run-makers for Knight Riders, are fighting their individual battles to stay fit and find form. Gambhir, who is also the Knight Riders' captain, remains unsettled after a prolonged drought of runs that forced the Indian selectors to drop him for the home Test series against Australia last month. This tournament will be a litmus test for a cricketer well-known for his determination and character.

The IPL would be the first time Kallis plays active cricket since pulling a hamstring before the final match of the home Test series against Pakistan in February. Kallis who has had several niggles in the past year, failed to excel even in home conditions during the Champions League, compiling just 18 runs. He then failed during the World Twenty20 in Sri Lanka, managing 24 runs in three innings across five matches.

The concerns only heighten with Brendon McCullum yet to join the squad as he is recovering from a hamstring injury. In any case McCullum's stint this season is a short one, since he is scheduled to depart after first week of May to lead New Zealand on their tour of England. Also missing till May 12 would be the Bangladesh allrounder, Shakib Al Hasan, who is set to tour Zimbabwe.

One big reason Knight Riders finished second to the Delhi Daredevils on the points table at the end of the league phase last year was due to their skewed win-loss records home and away. Though they had a fantastic away record with just one defeat in eight matches, they lost four times in seven completed home matches.

So, do Knight Riders reinvent themselves or follow the same path that led them to their maiden crown last season? Finding stability and a balanced team, two main attributes of Super Kings, will be the key for Knight Riders.

Key players

Sunil Narine: The main catalyst behind Knight Riders' triumph last season, Narine will be itching to bounce back after being dropped from the home Test series against Zimbabwe owing to an ineffective performance in the away series in Bangladesh. Narine, who bowled an important spell of 3.4-0-9-3 in the World Twenty20 final, could once again be the confounding spinner who proved to be the best bowler of the 2012 season.

L Balaji: Gambhir dedicated the final victory in 2012 to the India and Tamil Nadu seamer, who was forced to sit out the summit clash. Balaji had an economy rate of 5.40 (against T20I career ER of 7.98) as he used his knowledge of bowling on Indian pitches to good effect, cramping the opposition batsmen for width while teasing them with his variations.

Trevor Penney: Not one of the most athletic fielding sides in the IPL, the team management identified that a successful fielding coach, in Penney, who serves in the same role with the Indian team, was necessary.

Big players in

Sachithra Senanayake: He was an unknown as recently as two months ago when Knight Riders bought him for an eye-popping $625,000. The idea, the team management said, was to pair him with Narine as the second part of the 'mystery twins'. Senanayanke, a tall Sri Lanka offspinner, is known for his bag of tricks including a good arm ball to which he recently added a lethal doosra.

Big players out

Marchant de Lange: The young South African fast bowler suffered a stress fracture last June immediately after the IPL and was released by the franchise, who had bought him for $50,000 at the previous year's auction.

Below the radar

Eoin Morgan: Probably the costliest player on the bench in the history of IPL. Morgan entered the IPL for the first time in 2010 after the Royal Challengers Bangalore bought him for $220,000. Last year the Knight Riders paid $350,000 to buy the England batsman, known for his dynamic batting and match-turning knocks.

Availability

McCullum is likely to depart around May 8 to lead New Zealand on their tour of England, with the first Test starting on May 16. Shakib is likely to join the squad after Bangladesh's tour of Zimbabwe, which ends on May 12.

Nagraj Gollapudi is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • POSTED BY Sandipta on | April 3, 2013, 13:18 GMT

    My team would be Gambhir, Bisla,Kallis, M Tiwary,Y Pathan ,E Morgan ,Ryan ten Deschate,R Bhatia,Balaji,S Naraine,S Ahmed

  • POSTED BY on | April 3, 2013, 11:49 GMT

    1 gambhir 2 bisla 3 kallis 4 tiwary 5 morgan 6 pathan 7 lee 8 bhatia 9 narine 10 balaji 11 abdulla

  • POSTED BY Gappistan on | April 3, 2013, 6:52 GMT

    @cairo I suggest management should bring shakib to all the KKR matches in whatever condition he is in. As Sakib is so talented that by his mere presence in dugout, KKR will score 200+ in every match and bowl out opponents in less than 100. AS far as zim tour is concerned we Management can have life size cutout of Sakib to be placed in dressing room to motivate the players.

  • POSTED BY RayhanBDfan87 on | April 3, 2013, 6:12 GMT

    Shakib will not be available for this year,so we Bangladeshi are not so much interested this year IPL.but best of luck KKR

  • POSTED BY on | April 3, 2013, 6:06 GMT

    no bangladeshi player no ipl in bangladesh.

  • POSTED BY cairo on | April 3, 2013, 3:28 GMT

    No Sakib no KKR................

  • POSTED BY Murtaza. on | April 2, 2013, 17:08 GMT

    In 2012 KKR had Wasim Akram as bowling coach, but this time he is busy, and have no time for KKR. They need a bowling coach too. I think Donald or McGrath Can be good.

  • POSTED BY Krishhhhh on | April 2, 2013, 12:30 GMT

    Keeping CSK, MI, DD and RCB out .. Pune and Sun Risers have built a strong and strategic team. last year KKR cashed the weakness of these two teams to reach play offs ..CSK, Pune, Sun Risers, RCB will reach for playoff .. barring KXIP and KKR all other teams looks solid.

  • POSTED BY Krishhhhh on | April 2, 2013, 12:22 GMT

    Gambhir, Suni Narine the key architects of last year title now completely out of form. Kallis, Mccullam and Brett lee fitness issue. Shakib/Merchant absence. KKR rely on the likes of Morgon & Tendo ... considering the brutal form of top 4 - CSK, MI, RCB & DD .. KKR hope of defending the title will be the big joke of this IPL edition.

  • POSTED BY on | April 2, 2013, 11:35 GMT

    My Team: Bisla Kallis Gambhir Tiwari Morgan Pathan Shukla Bhatia Narine Senanayake Balaji

  • POSTED BY Sandipta on | April 3, 2013, 13:18 GMT

    My team would be Gambhir, Bisla,Kallis, M Tiwary,Y Pathan ,E Morgan ,Ryan ten Deschate,R Bhatia,Balaji,S Naraine,S Ahmed

  • POSTED BY on | April 3, 2013, 11:49 GMT

    1 gambhir 2 bisla 3 kallis 4 tiwary 5 morgan 6 pathan 7 lee 8 bhatia 9 narine 10 balaji 11 abdulla

  • POSTED BY Gappistan on | April 3, 2013, 6:52 GMT

    @cairo I suggest management should bring shakib to all the KKR matches in whatever condition he is in. As Sakib is so talented that by his mere presence in dugout, KKR will score 200+ in every match and bowl out opponents in less than 100. AS far as zim tour is concerned we Management can have life size cutout of Sakib to be placed in dressing room to motivate the players.

  • POSTED BY RayhanBDfan87 on | April 3, 2013, 6:12 GMT

    Shakib will not be available for this year,so we Bangladeshi are not so much interested this year IPL.but best of luck KKR

  • POSTED BY on | April 3, 2013, 6:06 GMT

    no bangladeshi player no ipl in bangladesh.

  • POSTED BY cairo on | April 3, 2013, 3:28 GMT

    No Sakib no KKR................

  • POSTED BY Murtaza. on | April 2, 2013, 17:08 GMT

    In 2012 KKR had Wasim Akram as bowling coach, but this time he is busy, and have no time for KKR. They need a bowling coach too. I think Donald or McGrath Can be good.

  • POSTED BY Krishhhhh on | April 2, 2013, 12:30 GMT

    Keeping CSK, MI, DD and RCB out .. Pune and Sun Risers have built a strong and strategic team. last year KKR cashed the weakness of these two teams to reach play offs ..CSK, Pune, Sun Risers, RCB will reach for playoff .. barring KXIP and KKR all other teams looks solid.

  • POSTED BY Krishhhhh on | April 2, 2013, 12:22 GMT

    Gambhir, Suni Narine the key architects of last year title now completely out of form. Kallis, Mccullam and Brett lee fitness issue. Shakib/Merchant absence. KKR rely on the likes of Morgon & Tendo ... considering the brutal form of top 4 - CSK, MI, RCB & DD .. KKR hope of defending the title will be the big joke of this IPL edition.

  • POSTED BY on | April 2, 2013, 11:35 GMT

    My Team: Bisla Kallis Gambhir Tiwari Morgan Pathan Shukla Bhatia Narine Senanayake Balaji

  • POSTED BY iamstupid on | April 2, 2013, 10:46 GMT

    Team : - Gambhir,Bisla,Kallis,Morgan,Das,Pathan,Tiwary,Rajat,Narine,Senanayanke,Abdulla

    Note:- 1. Tiwari is to be handled like Badrinath is handled by CSK 2. Abdulla can be switched by Shami OR Sangwan OR Balaji 3. Pathan can be switched by Laxmi

  • POSTED BY Rubel.ipe07 on | April 2, 2013, 10:01 GMT

    1 Gambhir 2 Kallis 3 Morgan 4 Tiwary 5 Pathan 6 Haddin 7 Bisla 8 Narine 9 Shami 10 Balaji 11 Abdullai

  • POSTED BY British_North_America on | April 2, 2013, 9:12 GMT

    Tsakani Maluleke How many times KKR scored 200 in IPL4 or IPL5? As Kallis consumed too many deliveries in the beginning,even late hitting did not allow them to score 200.They usually scored around 175 when batted very well.While RCB and CSK did score 200 many times because they have openers like Gayle and Du Plesis.You cannot maintain the same run rate throughout the innings so you need to start with a bang to score 200.Kallis is a great test and ODI player according to statistics but how many things he has achieved in T20?The way he plays anyone can play it.Do you think Morgan, Tendo or Shakib do not have the capability to score 50-55 runs at an ODI strike rate of 110?So, why always take Kallis instead of these batsmen who are definitely better hitters but also sensible players.If De Villiers follows Kallis's style in IPL, no one will be able to dismiss him.The reason why KKR won many group matches last year was simply Naraine.

  • POSTED BY on | April 2, 2013, 7:28 GMT

    kallis will always be the 1st choice for KKR ahead of any other foreign player simple because he can bat n bowl, Kallis allows KKR to go in with just 1 Indian pace bowler and hence they can play an additional batsmen. Also Kallis is very good with bat on difficult pitches, he should be utilized intelligently with the bat, he should come 1 down if a wicket falls early otherwise he should come at 5 or 6 down.

  • POSTED BY MAYURESHmagic on | April 2, 2013, 7:22 GMT

    1 Gambhir 2 Kallis 3 Morgan 4 Tiwary 5 Pathan 6 Haddin 7 Bisla 8 Narine 9 Shami 10 Balaji 11 Abdullai

  • POSTED BY on | April 2, 2013, 7:09 GMT

    Simple question: why is it that t20 teams only manage to get to 200+ only a few times, even on good batting wickets? The answer is simple because first you need to build an innings and the you can explode at the end. The reason you need guys like Kallis at the top of the order and not in the middle is because the so-called big hitters or explosive batsmen are not always consistent. They have like this mindset that they should always be hitting boundaries, even when they shouldn't be. Guys like Kallis can hold an innings together and they know when not to get out. If you look @ someone like Chris Gayle scoring those centuries and wonderful knocks, you will realise that he does so ussually when it is not required of him to so- that is he scores 100+ ussually in the first innigns. SO MY POINT IS THAT YOU DO NOT ALWAYS NEED TO BE AIMING FOR 200+ BUT RATHER BUILD AN INNINGS FIRST WHICH MAKES SORES OF 200+ EASY TOACHIEVE. Kallis should remain in the top order.

  • POSTED BY karanchhajer on | April 2, 2013, 5:36 GMT

    Team's a bit unsetttled. But hope they win this season too. GO KKR

  • POSTED BY Saket.Jha on | April 2, 2013, 5:29 GMT

    D-Ascendant: you already got some arguments. With a fixed budget, teams can't have all international capped players. It showcases a good mix of intergenerational players.To add to that, this club cricket is different and has to be looked with a different mindset. For international games its about cricket,entertainment and money. For IPL,BBL,SLPL etc. the order is reversed. Its money,entertainment and then cricket. I am not complaining as far as balanced between Int'l games and club games is maintained.

  • POSTED BY on | April 2, 2013, 5:18 GMT

    we wish from KKR Mangament that please utilize Yousuf Pathan very well, i am also Agree with HINDIYA to open the innings or sending him at No. 3. we are well know the talent of Pathan

  • POSTED BY on | April 2, 2013, 4:55 GMT

    i think this the probably the best side they can have':Gautam gambhir,manvinder bisla,manoj tiwary,ryan ten doeschate,yusuf pathan,eoin morgan,debrata das,rajat bhatia,sunil narine,brett lee,shami ahmed....5 batsmen,3 allrounders and 3 bowlers is a perfect comination for t20s. Don't forget,T20 is game of allrounders.WI won WC last year because they had so many allrounders.

  • POSTED BY Narbavi on | April 2, 2013, 3:41 GMT

    @D-Ascendan: Wrong, you have 9 teams which means 63 indian players are supposed to be playing, just a couple of years back Sachin was in blazing form that people wanted him to play the t20 wc, i agree since last season he hasn't been in good touch, i get a feeling he might struggle again this season, but then again, lets wait and watch

  • POSTED BY British_North_America on | April 2, 2013, 3:40 GMT

    D-Ascendant In international teams, only 11 players can be picked in a match but in IPL, 11*8=88 players can be fielded so you need more players.But yes, do not field test greats like Kallis in T20.Tendulkar and Ponting are different though.They can score quickly when required.

  • POSTED BY D-Ascendant on | April 2, 2013, 1:11 GMT

    Question to T20/IPL fans: If a foreign player isn't a first-choice pick in his national T20 side, should he be playing in the IPL at all?

    The same also applies to Indian veterans like Tendulkar etc.

    I think this devalues T20 if too many Test specialists are shoehorned in, am I right?

  • POSTED BY on | April 1, 2013, 20:52 GMT

    Don't forget Shakib Al Hasan , last session he had played some innings with bat & bowl.

  • POSTED BY on | April 1, 2013, 20:09 GMT

    MCcullum z d best t20 playr...explosive nd huge experience.....nd now he z in a blind form........if he wl click..den u cnt imagine how much d score wl be..remembered d very fast match of ipl..still dat record stands...Hate dat newz he wl nt ply few matches in dis seasn..nd yes morgan z awesomee too...if KKR wl utilise both of dem,morgan<instead of Kallis>.............dey cn get best team evr..diz 2 monsters can change d game single handedly

  • POSTED BY British_North_America on | April 1, 2013, 19:48 GMT

    SurlyCynic In thefirst 6 overs, you need someone who can make the use of field restriction.Is kallis suitable for that? You cannot expect a late hitting from him either.

  • POSTED BY British_North_America on | April 1, 2013, 19:45 GMT

    @SurlyCynic Look at Chennai, do they have any batsman like Kallis? But still they won 2 or 3 titles.If a batsman has been given the authority to consume 40 deliveries to score 45 runs then many batsman are capable of doing that.Why take Kallis? Tendo or Shakib are well capable of scoring 45-50 runs at a strike rate of 110.Kallis played well only in the final last year.Apart from that, he did not have a single innings which's strike rate was 130 or more.

  • POSTED BY HINDIYA on | April 1, 2013, 19:20 GMT

    If KKR wants to win they should properly utilize YK Pathan either by asking him to open the innings or by sending him at No. 3. He is such a talented and costly player whom KKR uses at No. 6 or 7 when only few balls are left in the innings. What a waste of talent. I think KKR will consider it and promote him at No.3. If he clicks, he will change the match in favor of KKR if not then others should contribute.

  • POSTED BY SurlyCynic on | April 1, 2013, 18:50 GMT

    Funny to see the criticism of Kallis after the all-round performance he delivered last year. For a start, it you don't play him you have to select another bowler which means a weaker batting lineup. As far as batting goes, you can have a couple of solid batsmen that get you regular 50s at a 130 s/r, like Gambhir and Kallis. Then you have sloggers at the other end under no pressure.

    If you just have a team of sloggers then you can sometimes quickly lose 4 wickets and lose the game.

  • POSTED BY phunny_game on | April 1, 2013, 18:33 GMT

    good that mccullum is not available for full season.. hopefully they can get the best out of morgan...

  • POSTED BY British_North_America on | April 1, 2013, 18:21 GMT

    As long as Kallis plays all matches, KKR will struggle to get a big score.He will play 40-45 deliveries and score 50-55 runs.I think their 4 foreign players should be Tendo, Naraine, Lee/Senanayeke and Morgan

  • POSTED BY DoraemonBangladesh on | April 1, 2013, 18:12 GMT

    Dont fear Knight Riders, hopefully will be again rock them. But KKR will miss the allround rock of Shakib al Hasan and Bang Boundaries of Brendon Mccullum, but still Sachithra Senanayake will make up as the Bowling replacement of Shakib and Morgan will replace Mccullum. Hopefully, KKR will keep their IPL Trophy with them.

  • POSTED BY vigneshvinu on | April 1, 2013, 17:17 GMT

    1. gambhir 2. Kallis 3. bisla 4. Macullum 5. Manoj 6. Yusuf 7. Das 8. Bhatia 9. Balaji 10. Lee 11. Narine i think these most balanced side of KKR. Though Balaji takes less wicket he his impressive with his tight bowling by maintaining good economy rate.

  • POSTED BY on | April 1, 2013, 16:58 GMT

    KKR will suffer if Kallis fail to perform well. besides they will miss Shakib & MacCullumn very much.

  • POSTED BY Subhajit111 on | April 1, 2013, 16:57 GMT

    I think it's be the time to prove once more for players like Yusuf,Gambhir,Morgan and they will give their best to find the spot in their national team but still they have to prepare a strong base from the right of the starting.Best Of Luck KKr

  • POSTED BY SyedAreYouDumb on | April 1, 2013, 16:56 GMT

    Tendo must get a game, he is a brilliant t20 player, why he does not regularly play is probably due to the fact he is from an 'associate nation'. Also Morgan should get a chance. Mccullum will probably fire once every 4 matches. Senanyake and Narine will form a deadly pair and if Senanyake plays well his place in national team should be secure. Also kkr will miss Shakib's batting and bowling.

  • POSTED BY Narbavi on | April 1, 2013, 16:56 GMT

    Big time favourites to retain the title, but the fitness and form of Gambhir and Kallis holds the key, should use Morgan in the middle order after Mccullum leaves for the test series, my best 11 would be Bisla, Kallis, Gambhir, Tiwary, Mccullum/Morgan, Yusuf, Bhatia, Lee, Abdulla, Balaji/Shami and then Narine!! Balaji on slow pitches and shami ahmed on other pitches

  • POSTED BY sweetspot on | April 1, 2013, 16:44 GMT

    KKR have hardly played consistently enough up until last edition. Then it all fell apart in the CLT20. Strangely it was CSK that had no form last year and they still managed to show up in the final. This year, CSK players are in rampant form, including, dangerously, someone as mercurial as Vijay. Will Yusuf Pathan's wife bring him some luck? He's one awesome entertainer on his day. Looking forward to a good show from everyone, and not the sort SRK put on last year either after the cup was won.

  • POSTED BY on | April 1, 2013, 16:29 GMT

    I think they will d well but they will be hard-pressed to retain their title. MY prediction is that they will be finalists or be eliminated in the game before that.

  • POSTED BY on | April 1, 2013, 16:28 GMT

    why dont they use eoin morgan one of the best t-20 players out there today he can hit the ball hard

  • POSTED BY RiyanV on | April 1, 2013, 16:24 GMT

    KKR will do well this year as well. One only hopes that their home record improves.

  • POSTED BY on | April 1, 2013, 16:20 GMT

    I think the writer has made KKR to like Sunrisers Hyderabad even after winning the title. I personally believe KKR is one of the most balanced team with all bases covered. It has probably the best bowling attack among all which is critical. Yes, there batting seems to lack bit of firepower but thats majorly due to out-of-form Yusuf(last season) and benching Morgan as rightly pointed out. Will miss absence of in-form Mcullum but with Morgan,Tendo n Haddin as backup its taken care of. Pattinson and Narine along wit Kallis will form a good attack with emergence of Shami Ahmed. Senanayake will be crucial in Kolkatta. All in all have enough ammunition to defend the crown. Best Luck!

  • POSTED BY prasad4418 on | April 1, 2013, 16:18 GMT

    If KKR wants to retains championship once again when gambir and yusuf must play according to their standards.narine, kallis, mecullum also play well

  • POSTED BY on | April 1, 2013, 16:18 GMT

    ten Doeschate will be the key member.

  • POSTED BY on | April 1, 2013, 16:12 GMT

    Best of Luck KKR ,BUt I wish CSK to do a HATRICK, But my bet is on Pune and Sunrisers coz they have some serious T20 geeks , lets wait and see.

  • POSTED BY ThyrSaadam on | April 1, 2013, 16:09 GMT

    They are probably 1 in 9 teams with the chances to win...

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  • POSTED BY ThyrSaadam on | April 1, 2013, 16:09 GMT

    They are probably 1 in 9 teams with the chances to win...

  • POSTED BY on | April 1, 2013, 16:12 GMT

    Best of Luck KKR ,BUt I wish CSK to do a HATRICK, But my bet is on Pune and Sunrisers coz they have some serious T20 geeks , lets wait and see.

  • POSTED BY on | April 1, 2013, 16:18 GMT

    ten Doeschate will be the key member.

  • POSTED BY prasad4418 on | April 1, 2013, 16:18 GMT

    If KKR wants to retains championship once again when gambir and yusuf must play according to their standards.narine, kallis, mecullum also play well

  • POSTED BY on | April 1, 2013, 16:20 GMT

    I think the writer has made KKR to like Sunrisers Hyderabad even after winning the title. I personally believe KKR is one of the most balanced team with all bases covered. It has probably the best bowling attack among all which is critical. Yes, there batting seems to lack bit of firepower but thats majorly due to out-of-form Yusuf(last season) and benching Morgan as rightly pointed out. Will miss absence of in-form Mcullum but with Morgan,Tendo n Haddin as backup its taken care of. Pattinson and Narine along wit Kallis will form a good attack with emergence of Shami Ahmed. Senanayake will be crucial in Kolkatta. All in all have enough ammunition to defend the crown. Best Luck!

  • POSTED BY RiyanV on | April 1, 2013, 16:24 GMT

    KKR will do well this year as well. One only hopes that their home record improves.

  • POSTED BY on | April 1, 2013, 16:28 GMT

    why dont they use eoin morgan one of the best t-20 players out there today he can hit the ball hard

  • POSTED BY on | April 1, 2013, 16:29 GMT

    I think they will d well but they will be hard-pressed to retain their title. MY prediction is that they will be finalists or be eliminated in the game before that.

  • POSTED BY sweetspot on | April 1, 2013, 16:44 GMT

    KKR have hardly played consistently enough up until last edition. Then it all fell apart in the CLT20. Strangely it was CSK that had no form last year and they still managed to show up in the final. This year, CSK players are in rampant form, including, dangerously, someone as mercurial as Vijay. Will Yusuf Pathan's wife bring him some luck? He's one awesome entertainer on his day. Looking forward to a good show from everyone, and not the sort SRK put on last year either after the cup was won.

  • POSTED BY Narbavi on | April 1, 2013, 16:56 GMT

    Big time favourites to retain the title, but the fitness and form of Gambhir and Kallis holds the key, should use Morgan in the middle order after Mccullum leaves for the test series, my best 11 would be Bisla, Kallis, Gambhir, Tiwary, Mccullum/Morgan, Yusuf, Bhatia, Lee, Abdulla, Balaji/Shami and then Narine!! Balaji on slow pitches and shami ahmed on other pitches