Kolkata Knight Riders possesses the most intimidating home ground in the Indian Premier League called the Eden Gardens. The stadium, when full, which it mostly is, can be a daunting ground to play on as the people are opinionated and very ardent of expressing their opinions. This is a stadium where performers are serenaded as demigods while non-performers are called villains. In Kolkata the people are emotional and the game is loved.
Last season, Dinesh Karthik led his team to a third-place finish and according to everyone, punched above the team's weight. The Kolkata franchise has a host of young players but also possess match match-winners who love this format of the game. If they can keep their regular players fit, they will once again be a difficult team to beat.
Here's a look at KKR's strengths, weakness, opportunities and threats.
- The team is littered with match-winners who consistently perform for KKR and love playing for their franchise. The Caribbean duo of Andre Russell and Sunil Narine create massive impact with both bat and ball. They also possess the explosive Chris Lynn in their ranks who might just be available for the entire duration of the IPL.
- Dinesh Karthik has emerged as one of the best finishers in the T20 format. Last season, he consistently came at number 5 and saw KKR home. He has carried that form for the national team too. Fighting for a World Cup spot, Karthik will hold the key for KKR is bridging the top-order with the lower-order.
- The pace bowling department lacks experience in the absence of the released duo of Mitchell Starc and Mitchell Johnson. They have acquired the services of Lockie Ferguson but he will have to shepherd teenagers Shivam Mavi and Kamlesh Nagarkoti. The most experienced Indian seamer is Prasidh Krishna but even he has only one IPL under his belt.
- The team is heavily dependent on their starting XI and do not have ready replacements, especially for the Indian batsmen. Robin Uthappa and Nitish Rana have not been among the runs in the domestic format which is a reason for worry as they have Rinku Singh as the only replacement. This puts a lot of pressure on young Shubman Gill to score big at the top of the order.
- There are quite a few players who could potentially book a berth in their country's World Cup squads if they perform well in the IPL. Carlos Brathwaite is one of them and so is Joe Denly who is back in the England reckoning. The same goes for Chris Lynn who has fallen out of favour in the Aussie squad.
- Kuldeep Yadav has gone off the boil for India in the last two games and he could use the IPL to try out a few variations. Last time, he developed the quicker ball with the help of Piyush Chawla. He could work on his pace and maybe develop a top-spinner which could add to his repertoire of mystery in the World Cup.
- Any injury to their top players like Russell, Narine or Lynn and the team suddenly looks very thin. KKR has managed to rope in Brathwaite who has an affinity for Eden Gardens but he is hardly an able replacement for the aforementioned.
- The pace department's lack of experience could be a major cause of concern as they hardly have specialised death bowlers. Narine, after remodelling his action, does not possess the mystery he once did.
Dinesh Karthik (C) (WK), Robin Uthappa (WK), Chris Lynn, Andre Russell, Sunil Narine, Shubman Gill, Prasidh Krishna, Shivam Mavi, Nitish Rana, Kamlesh Nagarkoti, Rinku Singh, Kuldeep Yadav, Piyush Chawla, Carlos Brathwaite, Lockie Ferguson, Anrich Nortje, Nikhil Naik, Harry Gurney, Prithvi Raj Yarra, Joe Denly, Shrikant Mundhe