Kolkata Knight Riders squad: Can KKR Win IPL 2023?
The Indian Premier League 2023 is all set to start on Friday (March 31) with Gujarat Titans taking on Chennai Super Kings at Ahmedabad, which will be followed by Kolkata Knight Riders vs Punjab Kings.Under the leadership of Hardik Pandya, the Titans lifted the 2022 title in their debut season and will look to continue their dominance in the league. On the other hand, CSK secured a penultimate position last year and has a tough task ahead for a major turnaround in 2023.
Much like in the past, there is enough excitement built around the league, which produces mouth-watering contests and provides cricket fans with an opportunity to watch their favourite Indian and overseas players playing together.
On that note, let’s look at how Kolkata Knight Riders, one of the title contenders, are stacked up ahead of the 2023 edition of IPL.
Also Read: Can Punjab Kings win IPL 2023?
Kolkata Knight Riders History
Kolkata Knight Riders had a blistering start to the IPL 2008, with Brendon McCullum slamming 158* against Royal Challengers Bangalore. However, the team could not reach the playoffs from the 2008 to 2010 season.
In the 2011 season, Gautam Gambhir was chosen as the captain, which brought a change in their fate. They reached the playoffs for the first time in the competition with eight wins in 14 games, but could not lift the trophy. However, the Gambhir-led team emerged as the champions in the 2012 and 2014 seasons.
Then they reached the playoffs from 2016-18. In the 2021 campaign, they had secured only two victories in the first seven games but made a terrific comeback by winning five of the next seven games to make it to the playoffs. But, they fell short against Chennai Super Kings in the final showdown.
In the 2022 season, under the leadership of Shreyas Iyer, Knight Riders finished seventh in the points table with six wins in 14 appearances.
Kolkata Knight Riders Squad: IPL 2023
Big names from IPL 2023 auction: Shakib Al Hasan, David Wiese, Litton Das
With a disappointing season in 2022, Kolkata Knight Riders decided to release a bunch of players ahead of the 2023 auction. The players like Aaron Finch, Ajinkya Rahane and Mohammad Nabi could not earn a contract, while Pat Cummins, Alex Hales and Sam Billings opted out of the 2023 season. With experienced players out of the squad, KKR certainly needed to fill the boots with proven expertise in all departments.
The team acquired the services of all-rounders Shakib Al Hasan and David Wiese, who are the regular feature in franchise T20 leagues. Shakib has also been a key part of KKR’s title victories in 2012 and 2014, while Wiese is at the zenith of his international career.
In the trading window, KKR signed bowling all-rounder Shardul Thakur from Delhi Capitals. With much experience in white-ball cricket, Thakur can be an x-factor for KKR. Also, the likes of Lockie Ferguson and Rahmanullah Gurbaz were also traded from Gujarat Titans, who could do wonders for them in 2023.
Other major recruits in the auction for Knight Riders were Litton Das, Mandeep Singh, N. Jagadeesan. Litton certainly impressed with his breathtaking knock against India in T20 WC 2022, while Mandeep and Jagadeesan are proven performers for Punjab and Tamil Nadu in domestic cricket.
Although the team had a successful auction, they will face a major absence in the form of Shreyas Iyer, who led the side last year. Due to injury concerns, Iyer will not be available for the majority of the season, and Nitish Rana will captain KKR in his absence.
Venkatesh Iyer, Andre Russell, Sunil Narine, Umesh Yadav and Tim Southee will be the key players for KKR if they are to lift their third IPL title.
Full Squad: Nitish Rana (c), Rahmanullah Gurbaz, Venkatesh Iyer, Andre Russell, Sunil Narine, Shardul Thakur, Lockie Ferguson, Umesh Yadav, Tim Southee, Harshit Rana, Varun Chakravarthy, Anukul Roy, Rinku Singh, Narayan Jagadeesan, Vaibhav Arora, Suyash Sharma, David Wiese, Kulwant Khejrolia, Mandeep Singh, Litton Das, Shakib Al Hasan.
Probable Playing XI: Rahmanullah Gurbaz(wk), Venkatesh Iyer, Nitish Rana (c), Mandeep Singh, Rinku Singh, Andre Russell, Sunil Narine, Shardul Thakur, Umesh Yadav, Tim Southee/David Wiese, Varun Chakravarthy
Kolkata Knight Riders IPL 2023 Schedule
Kolkata Knight Riders will return to their home ground, Eden Gardens for the 2023 season. In the last edition, the venue hosted playoffs, but KKR could not find a place in the top four until the completion of the league stage.
The home and away format will keep the viewers interested, with help to both teams in a fixture, throughout the tournament. KKR will play seven matches at Eden Gardens while the remaining seven at the opposition’s backyard.
KKR will begin their IPL 2023 campaign against Punjab Kings on April 1 at Mohali, with their first home game scheduled to be played on April 6 against Royal Challengers Bangalore.
Kolkata Knight Riders: Strengths and Weaknesses for IPL 2023
● Experienced bowling unit
The Kolkata Knight Riders have a credible bowling unit, with rich experience in the T20 format, with most having wide international exposure. In the fast-bowling department, Tim Southee, Umesh Yadav and Lockie Ferguson are regular features for their respective national teams.
Andre Russell has certainly improved his death-bowling skills, which have helped the team’s cause. The all-rounder emerged as the leading wicket-taker for the team last season with 17 scalps. Although Shardul Thakur has been rather impressive in T20s, his wicket-taking skills make him a good option in the middle overs.
In the spin department, Sunil Narine is a terrific exponent of skill, accuracy and persistence. The Caribbean spinner has been a first-choice spinner since 2012 for KKR. Shakib Al Hasan has been in great bowling form in international cricket and will help the team secure consistent breakthroughs. Another spinner, Varun Chakravarthy had a dull 2022 season but is a proven performer for the franchise.
● Potent all-rounders
The Kolkata Knight Riders have been retaining the services of Andre Russell and Sunil Narine for the past few years. This is due to their terrific performances in both departments, thus helping the side to prevail over their opponents in crunch moments.
The duo took a combined 26 wickets in the 2022 season, with Russell taking 17 wickets. Also, Russell slammed 335 runs at a strike rate of 174.47 and will give the team confidence in the middle order. Although Narine misfired with the bat, he has displayed his batting prowess over the years.
Shakib Al Hasan is coming into the tournament with impressive performances in the international circuit, while David Wiese has turned out to be a fine bowling all-rounder in franchise leagues.
● Uncertainty in Batting positions
Although the team’s lower middle-order and bowling unit looks settled, the key problem area is their top order. In the last season, Ajinkya Rahane and Aaron Finch opened for the team, but could not find success and were released.
Venkatesh Iyer, the hero of the 2021 season was in bad form in the last edition, majorly due to continuous swapping in his batting positions. He is likely to open for the team in 2023, which is his preferred position.
However, his partner hasn’t been fixed yet, and the key options for the team are Rahmanullah Gurbaz and Narayan Jagadeesan. Both are wicket-keepers and are in good form, and it will be interesting to see which one of them features in the side, according to the team's composition. Also, Sunil Narine, who has been impressive as an opener, looked out of place last season in the middle order.
Nitish Rana will bat at No.3 and provide stability to the batting unit. It remains to be seen whether No.4 will be donned by Mandeep Singh or Rinku Singh. The franchise will certainly need a good number of games to finally settle down on their batting order.
Can Kolkata Knight Riders win the IPL 2023?
Yes, Kolkata Knight Riders have a credible middle-order and experienced bowling unit, which could help them ace pressure situations and help stake a claim for the trophy. The form of Andre Russell, Umesh Yadav and Tim Southee in the last few months could keep the team upbeat ahead of the season.
However, KKR need to clear out the doubts at the top order, and devise a clear strategy in the powerplay overs. Last season, they faltered in their approach with continuous chopping and needed to give the particular player a sufficient amount of time to prove his worth.
This time around, they have Chandrakant Pandit, who helped the young Madhya Pradesh side lift the Ranji Trophy in 2021-22 and reach the semi-final in 2022-23 as well. The change in the coaching staff certainly will infuse a different approach and positiveness into the squad, and help them do well in the tournament.
Overall, Knight Riders look like an explosive unit, which could bring fireworks on the field, if given proper backing by the team management.