The IPL 2018 auctions in January brought mixed reactions when Kolkata Knight Riders bought players who differed from their previous squad. A few U-19 players, uncapped players and a new skipper in Dinesh Karthik, saw an entirely new team. The fact of leaving out former captain Gautam Gambhir raised plenty of questions. However, that question was answered later on during the season. (IPL 2018 FULL COVERAGE)
Third on the table after 14 matches, eight wins and six losses, KKR have played exceptionally well this season, with each player contributing equally, be it the marquee players, retained players, uncapped or the U-19 youngsters, the combination has provided the Kolkata based franchise new depth in the squad which now sees them in the IPL playoffs and face Rajasthan Royals at Eden Gardens. (IPL 2018 POINTS TABLE)
KKR found a new leader in Dinesh Karthik and which paid off pretty well considering the Knight Riders' road to the playoffs. Karthik's experience has undoubtedly had a major impact and with deputy chief Robin Uthappa by their side, the two-time champions are one of the favourites.
Their road to the playoffs has been a bumpy ride, taking into consideration the six losses they have suffered, the eliminator against Rajasthan Royals might seem like a piece of cake. They have defeated the Ajinkya Rahane led side twice in the league matches and have the upper hand in this clash. Another advantage for KKR is that their match winners, Jos Buttler and Ben Stokes are away on national duty. A depleted Rajasthan team is nothing more than Karthik could have asked for.
However, least KKR forgets that without Buttler and Stokes, Rajasthan Royals knocked out Royal Challengers Bangalore to fill in the last spot for the playoffs. An RCB side which had Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers. Something to think about.
For KKR, it hasn't been the usual players who have stepped up, but every player has taken a stand when their main have fallen. Let's take a look at the players who have made an impact so far for KKR.
Players who led KKR's journey
1. Chris Lynn: This explosive Australian batsman entered the 11th edition after recovering from a broken shoulder and has somehow managed to give his 100 per cent for the Knight Riders. In the 14 matches he has played, he has scored 425 runs and has a highest score of 74 runs. He has three half-centuries this season and has hit 48 fours and 16 sixes. Lynn's inputs have been helpful so far this season and with opener Sunil Narine, the duo have caused a lot of problems for the bowlers.
2. Sunil Narine: This unorthodox West Indies all-rounder has been trouble for the other teams. Be it with his batting or his bowling, he has caused all sorts of problems for the opposition and when he gets clicking, this guy is hard to stop. In the 14 matches he has played, he has scored 327 runs and collected 16 wickets. Scored two half-centuries and has a best score of 75 runs but a staggering strike rate of 189.01, with a best figure this season of 3/18. He is someone Rajasthan should look out for.
3. Dinesh Karthik: As a captain, he has delivered. Besides guiding the team, he has led from the front as he has scored 238 runs this season in the 14 matches he has played. Not only is he good with the bat, but also been quite handy as a wicketkeeper.
4. Andre Russell: KKR's big man was retained in the auctions and this all-rounder's power with the bat is dangerous. He has the capabilities to smash and collect wickets which has been highly helpful for Kolkata Knight Riders. He has scored 264 runs so far in the 14 matches he has played and collected 13 wickets. Once he gets going, there's no stopping him.
5. Kuldeep Yadav: KKR's chinaman has been a special weapon in their armoury. He has collected 14 wickets so far in the 14 matches he has played and recently improved his IPL figures with a 4/20. The spinner has a knack to walk out of a match with a wicket.
For KKR it may not be easy, as they have to go past Rajasthan Royals in the eliminator round, then face the team that loses in the first qualifier between Chennai Super Kings and Sunrisers Hyderabad to make it to the finals. KKR ride high on confidence and will look to go past their first hurdle against RR.
IPL 2018, ELIMINATOR: KOLKATA KNIGHT RIDERS vs RAJASTHAN ROYALS DETAILS
DATE: MAY 23, 2018
TIMINGS: TOSS AT 18.30 PM IST, MATCH TO BEGIN AT 19.00 PM IST
VENUE: EDEN GARDENS, KOLKATA
Kolkata Knight Riders (From): Chris Lynn, Sunil Narine, Robin Uthappa, Dinesh Karthik(w/c), Andre Russell, Nitish Rana, Shubman Gill, Javon Searles, Piyush Chawla, Prasidh Krishna, Kuldeep Yadav, Mitchell Johnson, Ishank Jaggi, Vinay Kumar, Apoorv Wankhade, Rinku Singh, Shivam Mavi, Cameron Delport, Tom Curran
Rajasthan Royals (From): Rahul Tripathi, Jofra Archer, Ajinkya Rahane(c), Sanju Samson, Heinrich Klaasen(w), Krishnappa Gowtham, Stuart Binny, Ish Sodhi, Jaydev Unadkat, Ben Laughlin, D Arcy Short, Dhawal Kulkarni, Ankit Sharma, Anureet Singh, Shreyas Gopal, Prashant Chopra, Sudhesan Midhun, Mahipal Lomror, Aryaman Birla, Jatin Saxena, Dushmantha Chameera