A file photo of the KKR team celebrating. (AFP)
Probably the most popular IPL franchise, Kolkata Knight Riders have had their share of controversies and disappointments in the past, but all of that was set aside as they lifted the coveted trophy for the first time in five attempts last year. It was the Delhi-bred Gautam Gambhir who changed the fortunes of the Shah Rukh Khan-owned franchise by taking the team into the semi-finals for the first time in 2011 and going all the way in 2012.
With Eden Gardens as home ground, KKR will be tough to beat with the likes of Jacques Kallis, Sunil Narine and Brendon McCullum in the set-up, and not to forget a certain Yusuf Pathan who would be raring to go after an abysmal IPL 5 with the bat.
Their batting is the strong point with heavyweights packing in the top seven with players like Eoin Morgan, McCullum, Yusuf, Ryan Doeschate and Brad Haddin at their disposal, including bright Indian talents like Manoj Tiwary and Manvinder Bisla. In Rajat Bhatia and Laxmi Ratan Shukla, KKR have two of the best domestic stalwarts suited for the T20 format. Gambhir, who was the second highest run-getter in IPL 5, will be the main player for the defending champions. He led from the front last year and, along with Bisla, was instrumental in providing good starts for his team.
Kallis has been the go-to man for KKR and the South African has never disappointed so far, playing crucial roles both with the bat and ball. Narine proved to be the game-changer last season and with the likes of Iqbal Abdulla and Shakib Al Hasan in the ranks, KKR's spin department looks top notch. The team has also added offspinner Sachitra Senanayaka into the squad this season and he comes in with a reputation of being a specialist T20 bowler performing well in the Sri Lanka Premier League.
In the fast-bowling department, KKR have a solid bench strength with Brett Lee doubling up as the bowling mentor and Shami Ahmed, L Balaji, Pradeep Sangwan and Marchant de Lange in the ranks. KKR, though, will have a tough time picking their four overseas players from a pool of 15.
Key Players: Gautam Gambhir, Jacques Kallis, Sunil Narine, Brendon McCullum
Players Retained: Gautam Gambhir , Manoj Tiwary, Shami Ahmed, Yusuf Pathan, Brad Haddin, Brett Lee, Pradeep Sangwan, Jacques Kallis, Sunil Narine, Eoin Morgan, Rajat Bhatia, Brendon McCullum, Sarabjit Ladda, James Pattinson, Marchant de Lange, Iqbal Abdulla, Debabrata Das, Shakib Al Hasan, Lakshmipathy Balaji , Ryan ten Doeschate, Manvinder Bisla, Laxmi Ratan Shukla
Players Dropped: Chirag Jani, Iresh Saxena , Jaydev Unadkat, Sanju Samson
Players Bought: Sachithra Senanayake ($625,000), Ryan McLaren ($50,000)
Foreign Players: Brad Haddin, Brett Lee, Jacques Kallis, Sunil Narine, Eoin Morgan, Brendon McCullum, James Pattinson, Marchant de Lange, Shakib Al Hasan, Ryan ten Doeschate, Sachithra Senanayake, Ryan McLaren
Domestic Players: Gautam Gambhir , Manoj Tiwary, Shami Ahmed, Yusuf Pathan, Pradeep Sangwan , Rajat Bhatia, Sarabjit Ladda, Iqbal Abdulla, Debabrata Das, Lakshmipathy Balaji, Manvinder Bisla, Laxmi Ratan Shukla