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regular-article-logo Tuesday, 21 May 2024

IPL 2022: Kolkata Knight Riders eye batters & pacers

Onus on Brendon McCullum, Bharat Arun and CEO Venky Mysore to be 'careful and logical' in spending the Rs 48 crore purse

Indranil Majumdar Calcutta Published 10.02.22, 02:07 AM
Brendan McCullum.

Brendan McCullum. File Photo

Unravelling the dynamics of an auction is like playing a game of Russian Roulette where it could be potentially dangerous to predict the way things will unfold. The 10 IPL franchises will go into the mega-auction in Bangalore on Saturday and Sunday hoping to pick their choice of players at their desired prices though such projections often go awry.

With a total of 590 cricketers set to go under the hammer, the franchises with the most salary purse available will enjoy the advantage. Punjab Kings and Sunrisers Hyderabad lead the pack with Rs 72 crore and Rs 68 crore, respectively. But judicious planning and a definite strategy could help a franchise form a formidable side, a lesser budget notwithstanding.

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An important aspect of auction is the balancing act. For example, if one has spent more than the budget on a particular player, the craft lies in how the remaining amount is utilised. Getting an overseas player for a bargain or picking a promising but uncapped Indian could help in balancing the costs.

Kolkata Knight Riders will rely on such calculations to make the most of the Rs 48 crore available. The onus will be on coach Brendon McCullum, bowling coach Bharat Arun and CEO Venky Mysore to be “careful and logical” in their choice after having spent heavily on building a strong base via the retentions — opener and all-rounder Venkatesh Iyer, all-rounders Andre Russell and Sunil Narine besides mystery spinner Varun Chakravarthy.

Having faced a lot of flak for retaining an injury-prone Russell and an inconsistent Narine, Knight Riders have nevertheless strengthened their bowling. “At least 15 overs are ensured for the Knights in any match if all four are available. That means they will need to pick another two or three bowlers, preferably pacers, to complete the line-up,” someone accustomed to the mechanics in formulating a strategy at the players’ auction told The Telegraph.

The Knights’ priority will be to rope in quality batsmen, a wicketkeeper besides bagging someone with leadership qualities. Eoin Morgan may have led them to the final in the last edition but it is unlikely that the franchise will be ready to spend a fortune on him.

Someone like Shreyas Iyer, a proven quality captain, could be on the radar but if it proves expensive they might settle for lesser names. The franchise would prefer to decide on a captain from their final pool of players later rather than going for broke on an individual.

With the IPL set to be held in Mumbai and Pune this season, the stress will be on players who fit the bill or with proven abilities in such conditions. How a player scores runs in the Powerplay, middle or slog overs; how destructive he can be on a pitch which offers turn are some of the key elements that would dictate a player’s price.

A Quinton de Kock or an Ishan Kishan will be sure to attract intense bidding. Picking any one will mean availing the services of an opener and a keeper. For the Knights, it could mean someone who could partner Venkatesh at the top of the order or come in at No. 3. Having a specialist keeper-batsman at the top of the order will also help in accommodating an extra batsman or an all-rounder in the XI.

The Knight Riders are also desperately seeking pacers in their line-up. It wouldn’t come as a surprise if they decide to go all out for the likes of Shardul Thakur, Deepak Chahar or Harshal Patel. Even Prasidh Krishna, who has spent more than three years at the franchise, could attract intense bidding.

The stress will also be on like-for-like replacements for at least six/seven players in the starting line-up. So the trick lies in picking the right XI and then having the right back-ups for the players who may not be available for the whole duration of the tournament.

The Knights are known to nurture youngsters or uncapped players. Few of the U-19 World Cup players like Harnoor Singh, Raj Bawa and Yash Dhull could also attract attention.

There is, however, uncertainty over the availability of Australian and South African players. The likes of Pat Cummins, David Warner and Steve Smith will finish their tour of Pakistan on April 5 while South Africans Kagiso Rabada, Anrich Nortje and Marco Jansen will end their home series against Bangladesh on April 11. Similarly, all Australian players who feature in the Sheffield Shield final will travel after April 4.

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