Winners in 2012 and 2014 and with all the tools to add a third IPL title. That’ll be the Kolkata Knight Riders, then.
Coach: Jacques Kallis
Captain: Dinesh Karthik
Previous Best: Winners (2012, 2014)
Why They’ll Win It:
The two-time winners have every chance of a third crown and first for five years.
Top order is strong and settled. Chris Lynn and Sunil Narine – inexplicably still something of an outlier as out-and-out pinch-hitter despite the obvious benefits of chucking a clean-hitting bowler in at the top of the order in T20 – are followed by Robin Uthappa, and then there’s a hefty Caribbean-flavoured middle-order featuring Andre Russell and Carlos Brathwaite, while Dinesh Karthik is an under-rated danger at the back end of an innings.
Talking of under-rated, Harry Gurney fits nicely into that category and arrives in Kolkata for his first IPL season having already won the Big Bash and PSL this winter. And bloody hell, who’s that having an IPL adventure? It’s only Joe bloomin Denly. That’s lovely.
By accident or design, the Knight Riders appear to have acquired a crop of overseas players that are pretty decent yet won’t be buggering off for the World so-called Cup which is very handy.
Why They Won’t:
Injuries haven’t helped the Knight Riders, with fast bowlers Kamlesh Nagarkoti, Shivam Mavi and Anrich Nortje all ruled out.
Lynn and Narine being absolutely nailed on starters at the top of the order leaves KKR more stretched than most when it comes to balancing their overseas signings. An Indian all-rounder would be handy; it’s hard to see how they can pick both Russell and Brathwaite as selecting either Harry Gurney or Lockie Ferguson looks essential to the bowling attack.
Star Man – Sunil Narine:
Reinvented as an all-rounder and pinch-hitter and crucial with both bat and ball. Rashid Khan may follow Narine’s path but it still seems baffling that nobody else is really happy to burn a bowler like Narine at the top of the batting line-up to use the Powerplay. It’s a low-risk, high-reward strategy as long as he is given absolute licence to tee off.
Fundamentally, Narine scores runs fast and concedes them slow. Which makes him one of the great T20 players.
2⃣ from 🏴
1⃣ from 🇧🇧
— KolkataKnightRiders (@KKRiders) March 21, 2019
Full squad: Sunil Narine (WI), Chris Lynn (Aus), Robin Uthappa, Shubman Gill, Nitish Rana, Rinku Singh, Dinesh Karthik (capt, wk), Nikhul Naik (wk), Andre Russell (WI), Joe Denly (Eng), Shrikant Mundhe, Carlos Brathwaite (WI), Piyush Chawla, Kuldeep Yadav, KC Cariappa, Sandeep Warrier, Prasidh Krishna, Prithvi Raj, Harry Gurney (Eng), Lockie Ferguson (NZ)
Sunday March 24
1600 IST/1030 GMT: Sunrisers Hyderabad, Eden Gardens Kolkata
Wednesday March 27
2000 IST/1430 GMT: Kings XI Punjab, Eden Gardens Kolkata
Saturday March 30
2000 IST/1430 GMT: Delhi Capitals, Feroz Shah Kotla Delhi
Friday April 5
2000 IST/1530 BST: Royal Challengers Bangalore, M Chinnaswamy Stadium Bangalore
Sunday April 7
2000 IST/1530 BST: Rajasthan Royals, Sawai Mansingh Stadium, Jaipur
Tuesday April 9
2000 IST/1530 BST: Chennai Super Kings, MA Chidambaram Stadium Chennai
Friday April 12
2000 IST/1530 GMT: Delhi Capitals, Eden Gardens Kolkata
Sunday April 14
1600 IST/1130 GMT: Chennai Super Kings, Eden Gardens Kolkata
Friday April 19
2000 IST/1530 GMT: Royal Challengers Bangalore, Eden Gardens Kolkata
Sunday April 21
1600 IST/1130 BST: Sunrisers Hyderabad, Rajiv Gandhi International Cricket Stadium Hyderabad
Thursday April 25
2000 IST/1530 GMT: Rajasthan Royals, Eden Gardens Kolkata
Sunday April 28
2000 IST/1530 GMT: Mumbai Indians, Eden Gardens Kolkata
Friday May 3
2000 IST/1530 BST: Kings XI Punjab, IS Bindra Stadium Mohali
Sunday May 5
2000 IST/1530 BST: Mumbai Indians, Wankhede Stadium Mumbai
Is MS Dhoni a great finisher or just someone who’s there at the finish?
This month’s ball of the century comes, inevitably, from the IP of L.
No Mohammad Amir in Pakistan’s first-draft squad…
Sri Lanka have gone full England with their World Cup squad.
Hashim Amla back for the World Cup despite recent ODI struggles.
England have played their Jofra Archer card just right.
England leave out Jofra Archer. Temporarily. Maybe.
No Rishabh Pant in India’s World Cup squad makes us sad.