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Under new leader, KKR aim to emulate Gambhir-era success

IPL : Team Profile

Kolkata, April 5: Time will tell whether the absence of their most successful skipper, Gautam Gambhir, will impact Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) or not, but in new captain Dinesh Karthik the two-time Indian Premier League (IPL) champions will find a seasoned campaigner who feels he has matured enough to “get the best out of the team”.
Gambhir, who led KKR to titles in 2012 and 2014, left the city-based franchise to join his home team Delhi Daredevils ahead of this IPL.
Karthik was med as his successor and days after the appointment, the 32-year-old wicketkeeper-batsman became the talk of the cricketing world by clobbering a last-ball six to singlehandedly guide India to a four-wicket victory over Bangladesh in the fil of the Nidahas Trophy T20I Tri-series in Sri Lanka.
“I’m aware of the expectations. Whether there would be pressure, ‘yes’. As a captain, you’re expected to at least go to the playoffs, that’s the least anybody can expect. I think I’m at a stage where I can handle it and get the best out of the team,” Karthik said in his first interaction with jourlists as KKR captain.
Karthik knows he will have to bat really well to come anywhere close to Gambhir’s exploits in the purple shirt. The veteran opener had led from the front since joining KKR in 2011, finishing as their highest run-scorer in the last two seasons.
Besides Gambhir, dashing opener Robin Uthappa has also been a vital cog in KKR’s wheel for the last few years. Having him as vice captain should also do a world of good to Karthik and the Shah Rukh Khan co-owned franchise.
The uvailability of Aussie pace spearhead Mitchell Starc though is a body blow for KKR just ahead of their first game against Virat Kohli’s Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) at the Eden Gardens on Sunday.
Starc, rated as one of the world’s finest pacers, was roped in for a whopping Rs 9.4 crore and tipped to lead the franchise’s bowling attack. But the 28-year-old was ruled out of the fourth Test against South Africa due to a tibial bone stress fracture in his right leg.
In Starc’s absence, compatriot Mitchell Johnson will be expected to deliver the goods. KKR have always been a strong bowling unit and this time won’t be any different.
KKR have roped in young English all-rounder Tom Curran as the replacement for Starc and the 23-year-old will add depth in both pace bowling and batting.
From India’s 2018 Under-19 World Cup-winning squad, fast bowling sensations Kamlesh garkoti and Shivam Mavi will add to KKR’s pace strength.
Experienced medium-pacer R. Viy Kumar and Javon Searless of the West Indies will furthermore boost KKR’s fast-bowling line-up.
Mystery spinner Sunil rine, the IPL Player Of The Series in 2012, will lead KKR’s spin unit that includes chiman Kuldeep Yadav and Piyush Chawla.
Coming to the batting arsel, besides Karthik and Uthappa, the likes of big-hitting Australian Chris Lynn, West Indies all-rounder Andre Russell and South African all-rounder Cameron Delport should lend their batting some might.
KKR Squad: Sunil rine, Andre Russell, Chris Lynn, Dinesh Karthik (captain), Robin Uthappa (vice captain), Kuldeep Yadav, Piyush Chawla, Nitish Ra, Kamlesh garkoti, Shivam Mavi, Mitchell Johnson, Shubman Gill, Viy Kumar, Rinku Singh, Cameron Delport, Javon Searless, Apoorv Wankhade, Ishank Jaggi, Tom Curran. IANS