Kolkata Knight Riders had a poor outing in the 12th edition of the Indian Premier League. KKR entered the tournament as favourites, but couldn’t do justice to the weight of expectations on them. They started the tournament with 4 wins in 5 games and had a healthy net run rate.
All they needed was 3-4 victories in the remaining 9 games to qualify for the playoffs.
However, things took a sharp turn for them as they lost their next 6 games. This put an end to their hopes and exposed their weaknesses. They were a one-man team for the majority of their games as they depended heavily on Andre Russell. Their bowling attack was poor and they didn’t have any other batsman to support Russell.
We take a look at three unsold players who could have given KKR the perfect balance to qualify for the knockouts
#3 James Neesham
He has been in good form for the New Zealand team in their recent games. He has been striking the ball well and has scored his runs at a good pace. He made a comeback to team in this year for their series against Sri Lanka. Since his comeback to the ODI team, he has scored 204 runs in 5 innings at a strike rate of 182.14. He also picked up 10 wickets in 8 innings.
He has also been a part of the IPL with Delhi Capitals and Kolkata Knight Riders. The Auckland-born cricketer has scored 1387 runs in 77 innings at an average of 24.76 and has a superb strike rate of 138 in T20 cricket. He has bowled on 86 occasions and picked up 91 wickets at a strike rate of 17.
KKR would have loved having someone of Neesham’sstature as he could have forged a crucial partnership with Russell. His medium pace bowling would have given KKR an extra bowling option to play with.
#2 Kane Richardson
Kane Richardson was in super form during the Big Bash, where he finished as the highest wicket-taker. He picked up 24 wickets in 14 games at a strike rate of 13.7 and had an economy rate of 7.75. His brilliant performance led the Melbourne to the title, and he also earned a comeback to the Australian team.
He has decent pace and can bowl at any stage of the game. He was very close to World Cup selection and only just missed out. He has been a part of 3 IPL franchises in the past. He has picked up 107 wickets in 88 innings at a strike rate of 18 and has an economy rate of 8.1 in T20 cricket.
KKR had 3 specialist pacers, but none of them showed any sort of wicket-taking threat. Even their Indian fast bowlers were off-color, and as a unit their fast bowlers could only pick up 18 wickets.
A quality pacer like Richardson might have been the missing piece in the teamof KKR in their quest to qualify for the playoffs.
CheteshwarPujara is considered as a Test match batsman. However, he have worked hard on his batting and is a lot more aggressive than he used to be. Last year in the Royal London One Day Cup in England, he had a strike rate of 91. In the recently concluded Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy, he had a superb strike rate of 131.31, showing that he is able to be aggressive.
He also scored a century in the Mushtaq Ali tournament and had an average of 86.66. Robin Uthappa wasn’t having the best of tournaments, and they didn’t have a player of his experience on the bench. A player of Pujara’s quality would have helped them as he could have taken up the role of anchor in the team.
Dinesh Karthik was out of form for most of the tournament. Pujara could have helped shore up an inconsistent middle-order and would have provided the team with stability.