IPL 2019: Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) preview, likely starting XI: Well-balanced, confident, but do Kolkata have the depth?

IPL 2019: Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) preview, likely starting XI: Well-balanced, confident, but do Kolkata have the depth?

Indian Premier League IPL KKR Kolkata Knight Riders 2019 12 Dinesh Karthik Andre Russell Sunil Narine

Kolkata Knight Riders are one of the real contenders for this year’s trophy. They finished third in the tournament last year, after losing to Sunrisers Hyderabad in Qualifier 2 following a third-place finish in the league stages. This time, they are primed to go one step better.

They have two trophies to boast of so far, and are the only side to win the tournament more than once, apart from Chennai Super Kings and Mumbai Indians. Given their excellence despite being under new leadership – Dinesh Karthik was captain – last year, one thing is certain: the core of the team is solid.

In fact, they are more than just solid. They have every T20 strength covered – Chris Lynn and Robin Uthappa offer runs up top, the likes of Shubman Gill and Nitish Rana shore up the middle order, and further down, captain Karthik is accompanied by the likes of Andre Russell to enforce a score.

The bowling is sorted too, with Kolkata adding significant pace in the form of the much-vaunted Anrich Nortje to an already potent spin attack comprising Kuldeep Yadav and Sunil Narine.

If Kolkata have anything to worry about, it’s the fact their squad is just 21 players strong – the least among all the teams in the league. A couple of injuries or withdrawals could stretch them a fair bit over a long season.

Players to watch

Dinesh Karthik: The Tamil Nadu wicket-keeper was excellent as captain last year. He took the reins of the team, succeeding the super-successful Gautam Gambhir, and more than held his own. He was polite to a fault but decisive in the field, and crucially, captaincy didn’t hinder his runs – he scored 498 runs in 16 outings at 147.77. This year, he’s expected to make the next step – that would mean making the finals and even winning it. Karthik will have to step up.

Sunil Narine: For long, Narine was Kolkata’s match-winner as a mystery spinner, but since his action had to be reworked, he has found other ways to make himself useful – he’s still economical and has a knack for picking up crucial wickets, and moreover, has morphed into a valuable opening batsman, capable of shattering opposition’s plans in a blaze up top. More of the same will be imperative for Kolkata.

Anrich Nortje: Injuries to Kamlesh Nagarkoti and Shivam Mavi have meant Kolkata have lost much of their pace. It is why Nortje will be an important facet of the side. With Russell, Narine and Lynn set to occupy three of four overseas spots, it could be Nortje is tried out as the fourth overseas player, at least early on. His performances for South Africa have been impressive enough – it’s no easy feat to keep Dale Steyn out – and he’ll be desperate to make a mark at the IPL.

Likely starting XI: Sunil Narine, Chris Lynn, Robin Uthappa, Nitish Rana, Shubman Gill, Dinesh Karthik (c & wk), Andre Russell, Piyush Chawla, Kuldeep Yadav, Anrich Nortje, Sandeep Warrier.


A very well-balanced side, Kolkata did well last year to finish third. Having plugged the holes in the auctions, they will be hoping to go one better. But there are similarly powerful squads out there with, crucially, more depth, and so, Kolkata might just finish fourth.

Squad: Dinesh Karthik, Chris Lynn, Robin Uthappa, Shubman Gill, Nitish Rana, Rinku Singh, Dinesh Karthik, Nikhil Naik, Andre Russell, Joe Denly, Shrikant Mundhe, Carlos Brathwaite, Piyush Chawla, Kuldeep Yadav, Sunil Narine, Sandeep Warrier, Prithvi Raj, Harry Gurney, Anrich Nortje, Lockie Ferguson, KC Cariappa.