Kolkata Knight Riders - IPL 2023 Squad Analysis

image-lfkpgnozKolkata Knight Riders (Source: iplt20.com)

To the delight of cricket fans across the world, the biggest carnival in India is nearing its inauguration. Yes, the winter's a goner, the spring has blossomed and the summer awaits us for the inception of the sixteenth edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL). 

If one gazes through the history of the league, only three teams have managed to clinch the title more than once. Mumbai Indians have won it five times, followed by Chennai Super Kings (4) and the Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) have snapped the title twice (in 2012 and 2014).

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When it comes to the Knight Riders, it has almost become a decade ever since they lifted the honourable trophy under the leadership of Gautam Gambhir. 

Last year, they appointed Shreyas Iyer as the skipper of the side, hoping to inch closer to the title. But to their concern, the Mumbaikar has been ruled out of the first half of the edition due to injury. Certainly, this is a big headache for KKR management, so we shall take a look at how the group sound on paper before the joust.

Let us take a look at the role-wise breakdown of the KKR squad for IPL 2023.

Batters: Shreyas Iyer, Nitish Rana, Narayan Jagadeesan, Rinku Singh, Rahmanullah Gurbaz, Mandeep Singh, Litton Das

All-rounders: Andre Russell, Anukul Roy, Sunil Narine, Venkatesh Iyer, David Wiese, Shakib Al Hasan

Bowlers: Vaibhav Arora, Tim Southee, Umesh Yadav, Lockie Ferguson, Suyash Sharma, Varun Chakaraborty, Shardul Thakur, Harshit Rana, Kulwant Khejroliya

Strengths of KKR for IPL 2023

  • The MVP in Narine-Russell: In India, rarely a few knew Sunil Narine before he made an appearance for KKR. Since 2012, the spinning all-rounder has been an integral part of the setup and had an upper hand in the team's triumph in 2012 and 2014. In the same way, Andre Russell forms the core of KKR and has had innumerable impact with both bat and ball in hand. Both the Caribbean stars are an asset to the side and will play a huge effect with both the willow and the cork.
  • Profusion of southpaws:  A mix of left and right handed batters has always proven to yield better results in a cricketing field. With left-arm spinners and wrist spinners getting better in the short over formats, it is indispensable to possess southpaws in your side for whom the stock delivery would traject into the batter. This is where the likes of Nitish Rana, Venkatesh Iyer, Sunil Narine, Rinku Singh and Shakib Al Hasan might come handy.
  • Experience factor: The Knight Riders' is a franchise that always valued age. Experience comes with age and so David Wiese, Shakib Al Hasan, Umesh Yadav and Tim Southee possess. And when it comes to the getting used to the KKR environment, Andre Russell and Sunil Narine tops the chart. This is going to be a great learning for all the young ones and will help them fight through various situations in a two month tenure franchise tournament.

Weakness of KKR for IPL 2023

  • Non-reliable middle-order: If one remembers the last few season for KKR, then middle-order batting has been an issue since the last few years. They tried Nitish Rana, Sunil Narine, Shreyas Iyer, Rahul Tripathi, Venkatesh Iyer, etc on various occasions and made the batting order looked fragile. In addition Shreyas Iyer's re occurrence of back spams has added salt to the wound. It is important for them to go with a settled combination and avoid unwanted shuffling.
  • Top-order dubiety: KKR have plenty of options who could open the batting for them. The possible contenders are - Rahmanullah Gurbaz, Litton Das, Venkatesh Iyer, Narayan Jagadeesan, Sunil Narine and even Nitish Rana has opened the batting before. So, the think tank needs to fix the debacle for the Knight Riders. Previously, we witnessed the chop and changes that KKR made which cost them a few important matches in the league stages.

Opportunities of KKR for IPL 2023

  • Scale-up for the future: KKR needs to build  a young core that will be the future of the brand. Currently, there's a vacancy in the opening spot which could be filled by either Rahmanullah Gurbaz or Litton Das or Narayan Jagadeesan. All three have the potential and its time step up when the need arises. The same notion is applicable for pacers like Harshit Rana and Vaibhav Arora. The North Indian pace duo are skilful enough to move the new ball laterally and will have to prove their worth at the biggest stages.
  • Time for the third title: The Knights will be fully back for all the seven matches at their home after three years. Also, it's been long since the silverware was come to the East. With an aurora full of youth and experience, Knights have to gel well and make the daunting task look possible.

Threats of KKR for IPL 2023

  • Skipper's availability: With Shreyas Iyer to miss indefinite number of matches, KKR has lost a leader and a more than efficient batter. The cricket world is aware of the potential Iyer has a batsman and as the skipper. A side (Delhi Capitals) which failed to make the playoffs for straight six seasons made a hattrick of appearances between 2019-21 under the astute leadership of Iyer. Henceforth, the biggest threat for KKR is their captain's injury and the management needs to figure out a way to fill the void.

KKR Team Rating Card

Top-order: 6.5/10
Middle-Order: 7/10
Finishers: 8/10
Pace-bowling: 8/10
Spin-bowling: 7.5/10

Overall Rating: 7/10

Prediction: With an amalgam of youth and experience, the team composition looks good on paper. But there always have been some loopholes in the KKR line-up since the last few years. If the voids are filled with promise, the team should certainly gel well. They should be finishing somewhere between 3rd-6th in the league's points table.