Gautam Gambhir-led Kolkata Knight Riders have been a successful team, winning two IPL titles and making the playoffs cut in the last two editions. This is a team that knows how to win and with wizards looking after the team, the Shah Rukh Khan co-owned KKR invariably makes good choices with the money in hand. The auctions are early next year, where KKR will look to bolster their team further. With IPL making a provision in the newly-drafted policy, every team will stand a chance to retain five players.
These five players can be retained (through pre-auction retention and Right To Match (RTM) cards during the auction) ahead of the mega-auction.
Before discussing KKR’s options, let’s take a look at the key points of the newly-drafted retention policy.
A team can retain a maximum of three capped Indian players, 2 foreigners and 2 uncapped Indian players.
- If a team retains three players — the first player will get Rs 15 crores, the second one will get Rs 11 crores and the third player will get Rs 7 crores.
- If a team retains two players — the first player will get Rs 12.5 crores and the second player will get Rs 8.5 crores.
- If a team retains only one player, he will get Rs 12.5 crores.
Three capped Indian players and two international players can be retained and that is where the problem lies. KKR has some of the best foreign players in the league and that is what will put them in a state of a conundrum.
What co-owners Jay Mehta and Joy Bhattacharya, who in all likelihood would be taking the calls when the time comes, will realise that it is important to keep the core together to hold on to their mojo.
According to InUth.com, here are the five players KKR should retain in 2018.
Gautam Gambhir: Oh captain, my captain
This KKR skipper has been instrumental in strengthening the success story of the team. In 2011, Gambhir received a record-breaking bid of 2.4 million US dollars from KKR. Ever since Gambhir took over from former KKR in-charge Sourav Ganguly, results have been promising for the franchise. They have become one of the most consistent teams in the league since 2012. With Gambhir’s consistent and impressive contribution, KKR will most likely go the extra mile to retain him in the outfit.
Gambhir is one of the highest run scorers in the history of the IPL, with 3,634 runs in 131 innings at an average exceeding 30 and a strike rate of nearly 125.
Meanwhile here is what Gambhir told Hindustan Times,
It is very surprising that I have not spoken to anyone (in KKR management). I don’t know about myself [future with KKR]. We’ll probably sit and talk after the Ranji final. But yes I am [open to playing for another franchise].
Robin Uthappa: Double Role
Yes, that is exactly what the Bangalorian brings to the plate. He can be a steady opening batsman and double up as a wicketkeeper at the same time. Also, Uthappa’s phenomenal chemistry with Gautam Gambhir works well for the team. The biggest factor why he should be retained is his versatility as a player. When KKR won in 2014, he scored a mammoth 660 runs in 16 matches at a whopping average of 44.00. He scored 388 runs in IPL 2017 in 14 matches and is one of the most consistent KKR players, along with Gautam Gambhir.
Manish Pandey: The Big-Match Player
The 28-year old from Nainital knows how to win big matches and his performance against Delhi Daredevils in IPL 2017 at Feroz Shah Kotla was a testament. The team needed 9 off 3 balls, with Tahir bowling, Pandey kept his nerves and hit a six in the process winning the game for KKR. Pandey came to limelight when he became the first Indian player to hit a century in IPL history. He did it for Deccan Chargers, his former franchise, that too in a playoff match. He is an asset to have on the side for the rainy day.
The Overseas Conundrum:
KKR consists of international players like Trent Boult, Andre Russell, Chris Lynn, Chris Woakes, Sunil Narine, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Darren Bravo, Rovman Powell and Shakib Al Hasan. It is going to be a tough task for the KKR management to zero-in on the two foreign players given each of their USPs.
Andre Russell cannot be a part of this season as he has been banned for one year from cricket for a whereabouts clause violation by an independent anti-doping panel in Kingston.
Let’s take a look at the two overseas players KKR could opt to retain. (Well, we may be wrong)
Andre Russell: The Gamechanger
‘Dre-Rus’, as he is popularly known, is a proven match-winner. He can be defined as someone who primarily delivers the finishing-kick. Andre’s ability to take wickets in a span of few overs is what makes him an invaluable part of the team. Given his athletic background, Russell can change the match with a catch or a runout.
Sunil Narine: The Silent Assassin
The West Indian spinner can blend into any given T20 side in the world. Narine has been one of the biggest match-winners for KKR over the years. His performance as an opening batsman in KKR’s 2017 match turned out to be impressive. On a given day, Narine can clear any ground in the world, and IPL 10 was a testament to that fact. Narine was adjudged the Player of the Tournament in KKR’s maiden IPL triumph in 2012. The most important aspect of his bowling in the IPL is probably his economy rate which stands at 6.32 runs per over, with 95 wickets in 82 matches. He also hit the fastest 50 off 15 balls in IPL 2017.
InUth.com feels if KKR can retain these above mentioned five players to ensure they have a familiar core to play with. It could also help them retain their winning mojo. There will be a lot of new faces in gold and maroon brigade next year given the new policy set by the board with regards to player retention.