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
England’s managing director of men’s cricket Ashley Giles has revealed he wants the same coach for all formats.
Eoin Morgan is committed to leading England through to the ICC World Twenty20 World Cup, according to Ashley Giles.
Lancashire beat Middlesex by 104 runs and return to Division One after winning title.
Jofra Archer, Rory Burns and Joe Denly have been handed central contracts by England after their summer performances.
Warwickshire batsman Dominic Sibley delivered another timely reminder that he may be the man for England’s winter tour.
Kyle Abbott claimed Hampshire’s best-ever bowling figures as Somerset’s hopes of winning County Championship title take hefty blow.
Virat Kohli’s guided India to a seven-wicket victory over South Africa to put them one up in the three-game T20 series
Read the important reasons, or just watch them all again if you like. Both good plans.
The newsletter you simply cannot do without.
Because even 54-year-old TV hosts need a bouncer once in a while.