After narrowly missing out on a playoff berth last season, Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) will look to stop repeating last year’s mistakes when they face SunRisers Hyderabad (SRH) in the Indian Premier League (IPL 2021). SRH was the team whose late surge in the tournament contributed to their elimination last year. KKR have gone six seasons without winning a trophy since winning two trophies in three years between 2012 and 2014. After a disappointing season last year, the franchise stripped Dinesh Karthik of his captaincy and handed it to Eoin Morgan in the middle of the season.However, they were unable to turn their fortunes around as they lost a lot of close games. With Morgan at the helm since the start of the season and the addition of veteran campaigners including Harbhajan Singh, Shakib-Al-Hasan, and Ben Cutting, KKR would like to cause problems for other teams and go the way.
KKR didn’t have a big budget to invest during the mini-auction because they retained their core group of players, but they made the most of what they had by recruiting all-rounders like Shakib Al Hasan (Rs 3.2 crore) and Ben Cutting (Rs 75 lakh) as possible replacements for their star all-rounder Andre Russell, whose injury issues have been a source of concern, particularly in the upcoming season.
KKR have also signed veteran off-spinner Harbhajan Singh for a base price of Rs 2 crore, bolstering their already formidable spin-bowling department.
Rather than go all-in at the auction table, KKR opted to invest wisely, signing Karun Nair, Pawan Negi, Sheldon Jackson, and young Indian talents Vaibhav Arora and Venkatesh Iyer for their respective base prices. KKR also kept the West Indian duo of Russell and Sunil Narine, as well as their most expensive player, Pat Cummins, who had a mixed season. Young guns like Shubman Gill and fast bowlers like Kamlesh Nagarkoti, Shivam Mavi, and Prasidh Krishna were also retained by the franchise. Lockie Ferguson, who made an immediate impression when offered a chance in recent games, has also been retained and will be keen to prove himself once more this season.
In addition to experienced Dinesh Karthik, Varun Chakaravarthy, who was last season’s discovery, Kuldeep Yadav, Nitish Rana, and Rahul Tripathi, the Kolkata team has a number of talented Indian players.
KKR looked likely to finish in the top four for the majority of last season, but their disappointing finish, along with other teams’ revival, saw them miss out on a playoff slot. KKR won seven and lost seven league games, but their lower Net Run-Rate (NRR) meant they ended sixth, behind Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) and SRH, despite having the same number of points.