Two things will strike you immediately when you start to assess the strengths or weaknesses of Kolkata Knight Riders’ squad for the IPL 2018 season and first of them is Gautam Gambhir’s absence from the KKR side for this edition of Indian Premier League. Gambhir gave his all for the franchise and changed their fortunes after leading KKR to two IPL titles in recent seasons. Over the years, Gambhir’s involvement at the auctions and in making crucial decisions was for everyone to see, however, like Sourav Ganguly, KKR decided to make the tough call and decided to move on from Gambhir to a younger captain for the IPL 2018 with Dinesh Karthik at the helm of KKR captaincy this season.
Another thing that was very obvious from KKR’s plans at the IPL 2018 auction was that they were ready to back a certain group of players and decided to build their entire season around those players only. Likes of Chris Lynn, Sunil Narine, Andre Russell, and Mitchell Starc were seen as the 4 pillars of Kolkata’s IPL 2018 season but what would happen if either of them got injured? And sadly, Mitchell Starc’s injury has left Kolkata to find the answers to those same questions they were desperate to avoid through the course if IPL 2018 campaign which they found by signing the young England pacer Tom Curran. Having said that, KKR have an IPL season to play and we have to look forward to a detailed KKR SWOT Analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) of the 2-time IPL Champions, Kolkata Knight Riders.
Kolkata Knight Rider Complete IPL 2018 Squad:
Sunil Narine, Andre Russell, Chris Lynn, Tom Curran, Dinesh Karthik (C/WK), Robin Uthappa, Kuldeep Singh Yadav, Piyush Chawla, Nitish Rana, Kamlesh Nagarkoti, Shivam Mavi, Mitchell Johnson, Shubman Gill, Ranganath Vinay Kumar, Rinku Singh, Cameron Delport, Javon Searless, Apoorv Vijay Wankhade, Ishank Jaggi
At the time of IPL Auctions, KKR were happy to get Mitchell Starc, Chris Lynn, Sunil Narine, and Andre Russell as their top-4 overseas players. However, with Starc’s injury, KKR’s IPL 2018 campaign and certainly the KKR Swot Analysis will see new dynamics and certainly new combinations to be tested under their new captain, Dinesh Karthik.
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Probable Kolkata Knight Riders Playing 11 for IPL 2018
Chris Lynn, Sunil Narine, Robin Uthappa, Nitish Rana, Dinesh Karthik, Andre Russell, Shubhman Gill, Mitchell Johnson*, Kuldeep Yadav, Piyush Chawla, Kamlesh Nagarkoti, Vinay Kumar
This KKR playing 11 for IPL 2018 certainly has a fine look to it, however, news has been confirmed that Tom Curran will replace Mitchell Starc in the KKR squad for the season and the English fast bowler could find a place in the KKR playing 11 ahead of Mitchell Johnson.
IPL SWOT Analysis: Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) SWOT Analysis – Strengths
1). Lynn and Narine at the top
Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) are blessed to have the most destructive opening pair in IPL’s history with Chris Lynn and Sunil Narine set to give explosive starts to KKR in IPL Season 11. During his IPL tenure, Lynn averages close to 30 runs with the best strike rate (183) in powerplay overs of IPL’s history. On the other hand, Narine scored 224 runs in IPL 2017 season with a strike rate of 172.30. Last year, IPL saw Lynn and Narine post a total of (WAIT FOR IT) 106 runs in the powerplay against Royal Challengers Bangalore, all we can say, bring on the “Lynnsanity” and some of the “Narineism” in the 2018 edition of Indian Premier League as well.
2). Dinesh Karthik freeing up Robin Uthappa
For last few seasons, Robin Uthappa has been doing the double-shift for Kolkata Knight Riders by keeping wickets as well as being their best batsman. However, with Dinesh Karthik joining the team will allow Uthappa to only focus on his batting which can only be a good thing for the KKR side.
3). Best and perhaps the most destructive batting lineup in IPL
Among all the massive hitters in the IPL, Andre Russell (173.41), Chris Lynn (158.02), Sunil Narine (147.28), and Robin Uthappa (131.29) all will be playing for the Kolkata Knight Riders in the IPL 2018. All these batsmen are capable of clearing the boundary both in the powerplay and during the death overs.
4). Presence of 3 Strike Bowlers
According to the numbers from last 5 seasons, Sunil Narine falls into the category of “Complete Bowlers” in IPL Cricket. Narine has an economy rate of less than 6.5 RPO and picks a wicket every 20 balls, which is beyond words if you are a KKR fan. As for Kuldeep Yadav, he is KKR’s best strike bowler as he picks a wicket every 17 balls in IPL cricket with an economy of less than 8.5 RPO. Piyush Chawla completes KKR’s spin trio with an impressive economy rate of 7.5 RPO and has a strike rate of 23 balls per wicket. Opposition batsmen will have to figure a way out against this spin trio if they want to get the better of Kolkata Knight Riders in IPL 2018.
IPL SWOT Analysis: KKR SWOT Analysis – Weaknesses
1). Virtually no squad depth
Apart from KKR’s playing 11 (which looks immensely strong), Kolkata Knight Riders will find it tough to replace their star players. Mitchell Starc’s injury has already put KKR in a tough situation as they hope Curran plays well this season but like Starc, if they lose Lynn or Narine, finding same quality will be impossible.
2). Lack of quality young fast bowlers
KKR will go into the IPL 2018 with just Vinay Kumar as the leading Indian fast bowler. Apart from Vinay Kumar, we are talking about highly skilled bowlers like Kamlesh Nagarkoti, Shivam Mavi, Apporv Wankhede but none of them have been tested under extreme pressure-like situation leaving Andre Russell and Mitchell Johnson very little room to have an off day.
3). Vinay Kumar’s leaky death overs
Speaking of Vinay Kumar, the Indian pacer is known to leak runs in the death overs (16th-20th over) and the numbers back that notion as well. Vinay Kumar’s economy rate in the death overs is well over 10 RPO and he only manages to pick a wicket in death overs of every alternate game. Vinay Kumar will be KKR’s leading Indian bowler in IPL 2018 but we can’t help but think that he could turn out to be a weakness in Kolkata Knight Riders’ season.
IPL SWOT Analysis: Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) SWOT Analysis – Opportunities
1). Huge chance for India’s Under-19 stars to shine
KKR were the only side to sign the players who impressed in India’s Under-19 World Cup winning side. Kolkata signed Shubman Gill, Shivam Mavi, and Kamlesh Nagarkoti and given the current injury concerns and lack of squad depth for KKR, all three are expected to play important roles in KKR’s season, in particular, Shubman Gill whom we have handpicked to play in KKR playing 11.
2). Nitish Rana’s emergence following his Mumbai’s stint
Nitish Rana played a key role in Mumbai Indian winning the IPL 2017 titles with consistent performances in the middle overs. Nitish scored 333 runs in 13 IPL matches last season and it was a rather surprising move to see Mumbai Indians let the left-handed batsman leave at the auction with KKR snapping the flashy batsman who will hold a huge position in KKR’s middle order batting. Nitish had a strike rate of 126.13 with 3 fifties to his name which suggests that he can play as the anchor for KKR with all the big hitters batting around him.
IPL SWOT Analysis: KKR SWOT Analysis – Threats
1). Andre Russell’s absence from cricket and a poor PSL
Andre Russell has a big task of repaying the faith KKR franchise showed in him after he was banned from all forms of cricket for a year after being tested positive in a dope test. Since making his return to the competitive cricket, Russell’s displays have been underwhelming as Kolkata Knight Riders management must be thinking if they did the right thing by keeping Russell on for another season. Russell could only manage 26 runs and 4 wickets from the 4 PSL matches this season which has further brought question marks over his selection by the KKR.
2). Chris Lynn’s injury concerns
Chris Lynn and injury could soon become a synonym for each other if the Australian opener continues to get injured at the frequency we have seen him over the past few months. Lynn injured himself in a T20 tri-series game against New Zealand and has not played since. However, for KKR’s sake and more importantly for IPL’s sake we hope that Lynn is fit for the entire season as he can really light up the IPL 2018 season.
3). Gautam Gambhir’s absence as the skipper
Gautam Gambhir perhaps did not get the due credit he should have for taking Kolkata Knight Riders to their 2 IPL trophies in past 5 seasons. Gambhir revitalized KKR’s pedigree in the Indian Premier League and his absence will be a major loss for Kolkata Knight Riders as they look to have a successful IPL season without their most successful IPL captain.
These were some of the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats for Kolkata Knight Riders in our KKR SWOT analysis for the upcoming season. We wish Dinesh Karthik’s team all the best and hope that their depleted squad strength does not come back to haunt them.
WATCH: Russell’s first day in training with KKR IPL 2018 campaign
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