The Kolkata Knight Riders team have always been a passionate bunch and will be out in full force in IPL 2019. Like most of the teams, they have been around since the series’ inception. KKR have undergone numerous changes since then, with the favoured son, Sourav Ganguly leaving after 3 years.
The purple uniformed team are yet another founding team in the league. They are also 2-time IPL champions, winning in 2012 and 2014. In the first three seasons, KKR failed to get out of the league stages, even finishing last in 2009. In 2011, in Gautam Gambhir’s first season as skipper, the team ended the season in 4th.
Their fortune turned around in 2012, when they beat the Chennai Super Kings in the final. The IPL 2013 season drop back down the order to end up 7th out of 9 teams. 2014 witnessed the Kolkata Knight Riders team win the league for the second time in their careers. A year later, the Kolkata Knight Riders squad ended IPL 2015 in 5th place. But since then they have consistently found themselves in the top 4. To be precise, Kolkata were 4th in 2016 and 3rd in 2017 and 2018.
Background and History
The team are currently owned by Bollywood actor Shah Rukh Khan and his company, Red Chillies Entertainment. The franchise was bought for a price of $75.09 million or roughly ₹2.98 billion. Former India captain and West Bengal resident, Sourav Ganguly, was the marquee player for the team.
Their home ground is the Eden Gardens in Kolkata and the support they get there is massive. Their title sponsor is mobile phone giant, Nokia and they also have several other sponsors backing them.
However, Nokia was replaced in 2015 by Gionee as title sponsor. Now, ahead of IPL 2019, Jio, Lux Cozi, Exide, Royal Stag, Greenply and Asian Paints are the various sponsors of KKR. Other partnerships include, The Telegraph, Fever 104 FM, Ibibo, Sprite and Dream11.
Following the Ganguly stint, Gautam Gambhir’s inclusion heralded a new dawn for the Knights. 2012 was a turning point in their fortunes, mostly due to the introduction of mystery spinner Sunil Narine.
Now, KKR are returning once again for season twelve hoping to join CSK and Mumbai Indians on three titles each. Can skipper Dinesh Karthik pick up where Gambhir left off? One thing is for sure, the other seven teams will not make it easy for them. Especially, CSK and Mumbai, who will be eager to clinch their 4th title. But KKR have a solid foundation keeping them afloat and they will want to join the three-title club.
Most of the Kolkata Knight Riders team 2019 consist of retained players but quite a few are new additions for this season. The likes of Carlos Brathwaite, Lockie Ferguson, Joe Denly, Harry Gurney, Nikhil Naik, Shrikant Mundhe, Prithvi Raj Yarra and Anrich Nortje have moved to KKR from other teams.
Brathwaite previously played for Sunrisers Hyderabad. Others, like Lockie Ferguson and Shrikant Mundhe have played in the IPL before, with previous teams as well.
But the other players mentioned, will be making their IPL debut this year. Hopefully for their sake, the new recruits are able to deliver for the Kolkata Knight Riders in IPL 2019.
Along with CSK and Rajasthan Royals, KKR have declined to use the transfers option. It seems that they are perfectly happy with their squad at the moment.
With regard to key players, skipper Dinesh Karthik will play a critical role in the team. They also have an unusual opening pair in the form of Chris Lynn and Sunil Narine. While is is unusual to see an all-rounder as an opener, Narine has proven to be capable with the willow as well. Another deadly player with the bat is Andre Russell, and he isn’t too shabby with the ball either. Finally, Shubman Gill is an excellent addition to the squad as well.
On the bowling front, KKR have the services of Narine, Piyush Chawla, Kuldeep Yadav and a few other enticing additions.
Sadly, the team will be missing Anrich Nortje, who is nursing an injury and will be out for the season. Harry Gurney and Joe Denly may also get a call up when England go for a one-off ODI against Ireland and later a series with Pakistan.
Although Australia are currently facing Pakistan, Chris Lynn does not feature in the squad, so he should be available for KKR.
Strengths and Weaknesses
Lynn, Narine, Karthik and Russell will be crucial for their batting hopes in IPL 2019. Robin Uthappa, Shubman Gill and Nitish Rana hold the key to stabilising the middle order. Between them all, it is a power-packed line-up already.
However, on the flip side of the coin, KKR also have a host of young and inexperienced players. But they are young and talented players and the Knight Riders obviously put a lot of faith in them. IPL 2019 will be the acid test for the team and their youth players.
Squad and Expected 11
IPL Kolkata Team 2019 Player List: Chris Lynn, Sunil Narine, Robin Uthappa, Shubman Gill, Nitish Rana, Dinesh Karthik (c/wk), Andre Russell, Piyush Chawla, Kuldeep Yadav, Lockie Ferguson, P Krishna, Rinku Singh, Nikhil Naik, Joe Denly, Shrikant Mundhe, Carlos Brathwaite, Sandeep Warrier, Anrich Nortje, Harry Gurney, Yarra Prithviraj, KC Cariappa
Expected 11: Chris Lynn, Sunil Narine, Shubman Gill, Andre Russell, Dinesh Karthik, Robin Uthappa, Piyush Chawla, Kuldeep Yadav, Lockie Ferguson, Prasidhe Krishna, Sandeep Warrier.