The mini-auction for IPL 2021 turned out to be an intense affair, with teams going full throttle for some players. Records were broken, a few unexpected players went for big money while a few big stars failed to find a home. We look at the strengths and weaknesses of the Kolkata Knight Riders and Rajasthan Royals units.
Squad: Sanju Samson, Ben Stokes, Jofra Archer, Jos Buttler, Riyan Parag, Shreyas Gopal, Rahul Tewatia, Mahipal Lomror, Kartik Tyagi, Andrew Tye, Jaydev Unadkat, Mayank Markande, Yashasvi Jaiswal, Anuj Rawat, David Miller, Manan Vohra, Chris Morris, Shivam Dube, Mustafizur Rahman, Chetan Sakariya, KC Cariappa, Liam Livingstone, Kuldip Yadav, Akash Singh.
Players bought: Chris Morris, Shivam Dube, Mustafizur Rahman, Chetan Sakariya, KC Cariappa, Liam Livingstone, Kuldip Yadav, Akash Singh.
Rajasthan Royals have one of the best overseas cores, with Stokes, Archer, Buttler and Morris in their ranks. With Samson and Parag in the team as well, RR have a solid top-order that can take away the game at any moment. In Archer, they have a lethal new-ball bowler, while the record-breaking Morris will be expected to handle the duties at the death – an area where the team struggled last year. They struggled due to the lack of a quality Indian middle-order batsman as well, which left Tewatia and Parag with plenty to do. The purchase of Dube has plugged that hole.
On paper, RR do not seem to have many weaknesses. However, Dube is not the most consistent, and if he fails, RR’s problems with the bat in the death overs could once again affect them.
Predicted XI: Sanju Samson (c & wk), Ben Stokes, Jofra Archer, Riyan Parag, Rahul Tewatia, Shreyas Gopal, Shivam Dube, Chris Morris, Jos Buttler, Kartik Tyagi, Manan Vohra
Kolkata Knight Riders
Squad: Eoin Morgan, Dinesh Karthik, Nitish Rana, Shubman Gill, Rinku Singh, Rahul Tripathi, Kamlesh Nagarkoti, Kuldeep Yadav, Lockie Ferguson, Pat Cummins, Prasidh Krishna, Sandeep Warrier, Shivam Mavi, Varun Chakravarthy, Andre Russell, Sunil Narine, Tim Seifert, Shakib Al Hasan, Harbhajan Singh, Ben Cutting, Karun Nair, Pawan Negi, Sheldon Jackson, Venkatesh Iyer, Vaibhav Arora
Players bought (INR): Shakib Al Hasan (3.2 crores), Harbhajan Singh (2 crores), Ben Cutting (75 lakhs), Karun Nair (50 lakhs), Pawan Negi (50 lakhs), Sheldon Jackson (20 lakhs), Venkatesh Iyer (20 lakhs), Vaibhav Arora (20 lakhs)
Kolkata Knight Riders had assembled a strong team in 2020 as well, but some inexplicable decisions along with inconsistency of key players meant that the team failed to reach the playoffs. They have one of the strongest middle orders in the competition, with Morgan, Karthik, Russell and Shakib, and may become unstoppable when they all get going. The purchase of Shakib, as back-up for Narine, and Cutting, back-up for Russell, are solid purchases, while Harbhajan’s entry will strengthen an already strong spin department.
The one major weakness, however, is the lack of a solid opener who can bat alongside Gill. While Gill is technically sound, he struggled with his strike rate last season, which had left the middle order with plenty to do. Tripathi was inconsistent while Narine’s days at the top are almost as good as over. The team would have done well to go after an aggressive opener, and it remains to be seen if the same issues plague KKR yet again.
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