Kolkata Knight Riders won the Indian Premier League twice under Gautam Gambhir in 2012 and 2014 but since then, they have just managed to make the playoffs and not cross that hurdle. The Men in Purple have blown hot and cold but they would be looking to change that this season under Dinesh Karthik -- the third season under the Tamil Nadu wicketkeeper-batsman.
The two-time champions have been one of the most consistent sides but overcoming the final hurdle has been an issue for the Shah Rukh Khan owned team and that has primarily been because of the imbalance at times or too much dependence on a few players on other occasions.
However, the team has a good batting line-up with Nitish Rana, Dinesh Karthik and Andre Russell forming the middle-order but what they lack after the releases is a big-hitting opener to partner Shubman Gill. Sunil Narine remains an option but his fitness and unpredictibility means KKR would need a solid opener.
Fast bowling and the spin department could also do with some beefing up after KKR decided to let go of Piyush Chawla. While Kolkata have enough options in the fast-bowling department, a lack of proven international pacer was the reason behind their struggle in the previous season. On the other hand, Kuldeep Yadav's bad form and the release of Cariappa and Chawla means the Kolkata franchise would also need a fall-back spinner in their ranks.
Based on the team's requirements, we take a look at the players for whom KKR can bid aggressively in the upcoming IPL 2020 auction:
Chris Lynn was released by KKR due to his hefty fee but might well return to the franchise, who he has represented since 2014 and played 41 games for. Lynn has been with KKR for 6 seasons but it is only in 2018 that he started getting regular games for KKR and since then, he has done decently for the Kolkata franchise.
1280 runs at an average of 33.68 and a strike-rate of 140.65 might not be fair to describe his abilities but his current form and qualities could well sway the KKR management to go for him via the Right to Match [RTM] card at a lower fee.
Lynn recently smashed 91* off 30 balls in the T10 League of just 31 balls and also registered scores of 61, 89 and 67 for the Maratha Arabians, who he also captained in Abu Dhabi.
With KKR needing a big-hitter and Lynn being a part of the family for long, Kolkata is likely to go back for the hard-hitting Australian when his name comes up in the auction at a base price of INR 2 crore.
An ex Knight and a more matured bowler now, Cummins could well head back to where it all started for him in the IPL. Cummins represented KKR in 2014 and 2015 but only played 4 matches in total and took 2 wickets and was subsequently released by the Kolkata franchise. However, Cummins did make a comeback in the IPL when he was snapped up by Delhi Daredevils in 2017, for whom he played 16 matches and grabbed 15 wickets.
The pacer was bagged by Mumbai Indians last season but an injury ruled him out. However, he is back and raring to go once again after becoming one of the best in the world across formats.
With a base price of INR 2 crore, Cummins is expected to sell for a hefty sum but with KKR requiring some firepower in the bowling department to back up Lockie Ferguson and Harry Gurney, who have both been inconsistent for them in 2019, Cummins's experience could come in handy for the two-time champions. Add to it his hitting prowess down the order, the 26-year-old can be the perfect fit for the franchise on the Eden Gardens track, which provides ample seam and swing to the pacers.
R SAI KISHORE
R Sai Kishore is the find of India's domestic T20 competition -- Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy. However, he is no stranger to the IPL as he has already bowled in the nets of Chennai Super Kings in the 2019 season.
However, Sai Kishore could well end up little north of the east coast because KKR might well go for the slow left-arm orthodox bowler after letting go of Chawla and KC Cariappa. With Kuldeep Yadav's form being topsy-turvy, KKR's only other spin option is Sunil Narine and him being an international player, another spinner in the ranks will be required and Sai Kishore after a brilliant domestic season fits the bill perfectly.
The Chennai spinner, who has played for Chepauk Super Gillies and Ruby Trichy Warriors in the TNPL and for Chennai took 20 wickets in 12 matches in the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy with best figures of 4/6 against Tripura. What adds to his speciality is that he has an incredible economy rate of 4.63 and most of his overs were in the powerplay. And, out of the 20 wickets, 15 came in the powerplay.
Therefore, at a starting price of INR 20 lakh, the 23-year-old could well be the player KKR turn to if they at all decide to add to the void left by their long-time servant Chawla.
KKR SQUAD BEFORE AUCTION:
RELEASED: Robin Uthappa, Chris Lynn, Piyush Chawla, Joe Denly, Yarra Prithviraj, Nikhik Naik, KC Cariappa, Matthew Kelly, Shrikant Mundhe and Carlos Brathwaite.
RETAINED: Dinesh Karthik, Andre Russell, Sunil Narine, Kuldeep Yadav, Shubman Gill, Lockie Ferguson, Nitish Rana, Rinku Singh, Prasidh Krishna, Sandeep Warrier, Harry Gurney, Kamlesh Nagarkoti, Shivam Mavi.
TRADED: Siddhesh Lad
PURSE REMAINING: Rs 35.65 Crore
SLOTS LEFT: 11 (7 domestic, 4 overseas)