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Kolkata Knight Riders face tough questions in Shreyas Iyer's absence

After finishing seventh last year, KKR begin this season with a new captain and coaching staff

Sreshth Shah
Sreshth Shah

Where Kolkata Knight Riders finished in IPL 2022

Seventh, with six wins and eight losses.

KKR squad for IPL 2023

Venkatesh Iyer, Rahmanullah Gurbaz, Shreyas Iyer (injured), Nitish Rana, Rinku Singh, Mandeep Singh, N Jagadeesan, Litton Das, Andre Russell, Anukul Roy, David Wiese, Shakib Al Hasan, Sunil Narine, Varun Chakravarthy, Suyash Sharma, Shardul Thakur, Lockie Ferguson, Tim Southee, Harshit Rana, Umesh Yadav, Vaibhav Arora, Kulwant Khejroliya.

Player availability - Shreyas doubtful, Shakib and Litton could be late

Shreyas Iyer has been sidelined by recurring lower-back issue and there is no definitive return date yet, leaving the Knight Riders without their regular captain. Nitish Rana has been asked to step in on a temporary basis. There is a slim chance that Shreyas could return in the second half of the season.
Knight Riders could be without Shakib and Litton for their opening game of the season, on April 1. Both are part of the Bangladesh squad for the three T20Is against Ireland that ends on March 31. Litton could miss a few more games because he will arrive in India only after Bangladesh's one-off Test against Ireland, which runs from April 4 to 8.

What's new with KKR this year?

Brendon McCullum is no longer their coach, having moved to a permanent role with the England men's Test side, and Knight Riders have brought in experienced Indian hands - Chandrakant Pandit (head coach) and Bharat Arun (bowling coach). Ryan ten Doeschate is their fielding coach.
They were also busy between seasons, trading in Shardul Thakur from Delhi Capitals, and Gurbaz and Lockie Ferguson from Gujarat Titans. That left them with a small purse of INR 7.05 crore at the IPL auction, where six of their eight new picks were base-price purchases. They signed Jagadeesan, Vaibhav, Mandeep, Suyash Sharma, David Wiese, Kulwant Khejroliya, Shakib and Litton.

The good - a new era beckons?

Andre Russell finally has an overseas back-up in Wiese, useful for the side since the West Indian needs workload management if the team needs him at 100% fitness. Their wicketkeeping options are more attractive than their 2022 squad, which included Sheldon Jackson, B Indrajith and Sam Billings. Thakur strengthens the bowling and batting, while their new coaching staff and interim captain could come with a hard reset after a disappointing IPL 2022.

The not-so-good - the uncertainties

Shreyas' injury means Knight Riders are without their best Indian batter. Venkatesh and Chakravarthy are both out of favour from a national-selection point of view and their stocks have dropped significantly since they were retained by the franchise two seasons ago. Barring Thakur, Rana and the two overseas West Indians, no one makes a strong case to be a shoo-in in the XI.

Schedule insights

Knight Riders play Mumbai Indians only once. This may come as a relief, since they have a 9-22 record against Mumbai. Knight Riders also play Lucknow Super Giants, Delhi Capitals and Rajasthan Royals once each.
The side has a packed schedule in late April, when they are set to play four games in a ten-day period between April 20 and April 29, with two home games as well as away matches in Delhi and Bengaluru.

The big question

Sreshth Shah is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo. @sreshthx