The Kolkata Knight Riders had a difficult time in the IPL last year, with lacklustre performances on the field but more importantly, embroiled in controversy off the field. Shreyas Iyer’s comments about the team owners getting involved in selection meetings caused quite a stir, which ultimately derailed their campaign.
They have one of the thinnest squads going into the auction as they have released as many as 15 players. Big-name stars and seasoned campaigners Pat Cummins, Ajinkya Rahane, Aaron Finch and Mohammad Nabi were shown the door.
They were one of the most active franchises during the trading window as they brought in three players from rival teams. They got Lockie Ferguson and Rahmanullah Gurbaz from Gujarat Titans while bringing in Shardul Thakur from the Delhi Capitals.
The two-time IPL winners have the least amount of funds left for the auction with just Rs 7.05 crores in their kitty. Only KKR and RCB have budgets of less than Rs 10 crores, while RCB have a lot fewer slots to fill.
You would have to say they overpaid for Lockie Ferguson, whose contract is worth Rs 10 crores, while Shardul’s is worth 10.75 crores. KKR will need to fill 11 slots with their budget of 7 crores and it will be extremely difficult to get some quality in the squad.
In-demand players like Stokes, Curran and Green are expected to go for huge sums and KKR certainly can’t afford them. If they try and sign a marquee player, they run the risk of exhausting their budget even further and could end up with a thin squad.
They need an opener in the squad to partner Venkatesh Iyer after releasing four of them. A quality backup to Andre Russell should be high on their priority list, keeping in mind the West Indian all-rounder’s injury record.
While their first XI looks good, if any of the first-choice players get injured, they will be in big trouble. KKR have roped in Chandrakant Pandit as head coach and he might be a perfect fit for the team with his vast knowledge of the Indian domestic circuit.