Kuldeep Yadav is at the "top of his game" this season, according to the Kolkata Knight Riders team mentor David Hussey. Statistically, IPL 2019 was the left-arm wristspinner's worst IPL season, where he picked just four wickets in nine games at an economy of 8.66. This led to him getting dropped by the Knight Riders for the business end of the competition. At the time, Dinesh Karthik, his captain, stated that a break would serve Yadav well and they wanted him to "get back fresh".
"I personally believe after the last eight-nine days of training camp, he's at the top of his game," Hussey told PTI. "He's fielding well, he is running well, he's covering the ground very well. And he's bowling has a nice rhythm, and with lots of revolutions on the ball."
"Kuldeep is a very confident player. He knows what he can and can't do with the ball. He spins the ball both ways and reads the game exceptionally well. I don't think he will have any confidence issues throughout the tournament and I do say that without putting too much pressure on him. I think he would be a very good consistent performer for the Kolkata Knight Riders."
Hussey also touched upon the Knight Riders benefitting from Sunil Narine's experience with the ball and Yadav's combine with the experienced Trinidadian, who is coming into IPL on the back of a victorious run with the Trinbago Knight Riders at the CPL.
Narine, who missed the final, had a mixed tournament, featuring in just five out of the ten matches after being treated for kidney stones at the start of the CPL. He finished with six wickets at an economy of 4.55.
"He [Narine] will be one of the bowlers captain DK will throw the ball to whenever the opposition has the momentum," Hussey said. "I'm sure Sunil Narine will win more often than not, those close battles. Narine arguably is the best T20 bowler in the world. In any conditions, he is one of the best players to have. Fortunately, he is at KKR, and he'll be at his most difficult self to play and handle."
A burning question surrounding the team since the last season has been Andre Russell's batting position. Russell himself has said he'd like to bat higher. The team management has confirmed that could be a possibility this time around. Yet Hussey wasn't giving much away, merely hinting a formidable middle order gave them an embarrassment of riches.
"First and foremost, it's not my decision, but if he bats at No 3 for the team, it's going to be the best decision for the team in order for us to win the games of cricket," he said. "Our middle order, it's probably the hardest place to bat in T20 cricket.
"We have Eoin Morgan, who's done it for England for many, many years. He is a great player, manipulates the field very well. We also have a captain in Dinesh Karthik who's been a world class player for such a long time for India and for the many IPL teams he's played...I expect him to lead from the front and heavily in the middle overs."
The Knight Riders will be among the last teams to open their campaign. They start on September 23 against the Mumbai Indians in Abu Dhabi, and will potentially have a full squad to choose from after the England and Australia players' clearance to enter the bubble following a six-day quarantine upon landing in the UAE.