KKR has been a force to beat in the past few seasons. Last season, the club made a brave decision of parting ways with veteran batsman Gautam Gambhir, with whom the team had won two IPL titles. Instead of bringing in a high-profile name to fill the big shoes of the departing captain, who had stayed for 7 long years, they chose to go with Dinesh Karthik.
The choice instantly paid dividends as KKR went on to feature in the eliminator, only to be beaten by Sunrisers Hyderabad. The teams rise was also marked by that of Dinesh Karthik, who has since made his name as the new finisher in the T20s. He also featured for the national side in Asia Cup and the recently concluded T20 series with Australia. As the Kolkata side braces itself for the upcoming 2019 IPL auctions, we take a look at whom they should buy and whom they should give a miss.
Transfer Window Overview
Retained: Dinesh Karthik, Robin Uthappa, Chris Lynn, Andre Russell, Sunil Narine, Shubman Gill, Piyush Chawla, Kuldeep Yadav, Prasidh Krishna, Shivam Mavi, Nitish Rana, Rinku Singh, Kamlesh Nagarkoti
Released: Mitchell Starc, Mitchell Johnson, Tom Curran, Cameron Delport, Ishank Jaggi, Vinay Kumar, Apoorv Wankhade, Javon Searles
Salary cap available: Rs. 15.20 cr
Total Available slots: 12 (Indian 7, Overseas 5)
In the transfer window last month, KKR did the needful and retained their star performers like Dinesh Karthik, Uthappa, Chris Lynn, and Sunil Narine. However, they also took the big call of letting go top bowlers like Mitchell Starc, Mitchell Johnson and Vinay Kumar. Naturally, the first thing on their mind would be to strengthen the bowling attack first.
Here are the five players that Kolkata Knight Riders should target in the upcoming IPL auctions if they want to fill this gap and propel the team to the top again:
#1. Jaydev Unadkat
Jaydev Unadkat is a name that has witnessed its stock grow and plummet in a very short period of time.
He had one of his best seasons in 2017, when he starred for Rising Pune Supergiant, thus helping his team reach the finals, where they lost by just 1 run. His season included 24 wickets for the Pune team with an economy of just over 7 runs, making him one of the best Indian bowlers that year. The highlight for the bowler was a hat-trick against Sunrisers Hyderabad.
Unsurprisingly, Unadkat was brought by Rajasthan Royals at a huge fee of Rs 11.5 crore.
However, the heavy price tag seemed to affect his performances as he could manage just 11 wickets. Consequently, the 27-year-old was dropped by his owners.
Nonetheless, Unadkat still remains a strong bowler in the domestic circles. This year, he has been a crucial player for Saurashtra in the Ranji Trophy as well as for India B.
What KKR will get in Jaydev Unadkat is a pacy left-swinger in their ranks. This will do good for bringing in variations as well as a capable home-grown bowler.
But having said that, whether this deal will happen or not is still a mystery, considering KKR had once bought Saurashtra player in 2016 for Rs. 1.6 cr and released him the following season itself.
#2. Chris Woakes
Chris Woakes is another player who has plied his trades with KKR before. However, unlike Unadkat, Woakes had a spectacular debut season for KKR, scalping 17 wickets in 13 games in 2017.
Last year, he was scalped by RCB for Rs. 7.4 crores in the auctions. However, he could not justify his hefty price tag, returning with only 8 wickets. Woakes was, thus, released by RCB last month.
Woakes can provide KKR with the bowling depth they need. He is experienced and can bowl some impressive swingers. Add to that the Englishman’s ability to hit with the bat as well, and you have a game-changer in your ranks.
With first-choice Andre Russell having a history of picking up injuries, Woakes could very well be the player KKR should be targeting this auction.
#3. Shimron Hetmyer
If anything good happened for West Indies in their disastrous India tour, it has to be Shimron Hetmyer, the marauding batsman.
The 21-year-old was inducted in the side in December last year and since then has become an indispensable of the WI starting XI. Hetmyer is known especially for his hard-hitting antiques. He can also hold his ground and be at the crease until the end of innings.
On the other hand, although KKR has an excellent opening order, their lower order has let them down on quite a few occasions. The resultant is that the Karthik is left with a big responsibility of getting things done at the business end of the games.
Thus, Hetmyer will be a perfect player for KKR. The left-hander can slot in at the number 5 position easily from where he could start hitting from the moment comes to the crease.
#4. Glenn Maxwell
Glenn Maxwell was the star performer for Kings XI Punjab in their groundbreaking 2014 campaign. However, since then, he has had a pretty disappointing run with the team, managing 310 runs. Last season, he had a disastrous season with Delhi Daredevils, scoring only 169 runs in 12 innings.
But Maxwell is a cricketer whose hard-hitting skills cannot be questioned. This was on full display in the first match between Australia and India T20 series, where he almost single-handedly took his side to a competitive total and consequently to a win.
Although Chris Lynn has been a dependable performer for KKR, Glenn Maxwell could prove to be a very able backup for him. He is also an able fielder and can provide a good option with the off-spin.
Considering his below-par last season, Maxwell would not only be an economical buy but also a smart one.
#5. Liam Plunkett
Last but not the least, Liam Plunkett is another interesting English bowler that KKR should consider buying in the 2019 IPL Auction.
Over the last few years, Liam has transformed into an instrumental member for the national side. He is noted for his ability to pick wickets in the middle overs and confusing the batsmen with pace and swing. Liam could be another interesting foreign bowler with experience for KKR.