From the past few seasons, Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) have struggled to perform consistently. On the previous two occasions, KKR missed out to qualify for the playoffs after finishing at the fifth spot in both the 2019 and 2020 seasons.
Ahead of the Indian Premier League (IPL) auction 2021, KKR, who changed their leadership in the middle of the IPL 2020 from Dinesh Karthik to Eoin Morgan, have released five players. Tom Banton and Chris Green have been released among the overseas players’ category, while Maniraman Siddharth, Nikhil Naik, Siddhesh Lad have been let go as Indian players.
The two-time champions have retained a 17-member squad, including star players like Morgan, Karthik, Andre Russell, Sunil Narine, and Lockie Ferguson. They now have seven spots left in the squad with one place for an overseas player and six for Indians.
Let’s have a look at four players that KKR might target for IPL 2021:
1.) Alex Hales
Shubman Gill is the sure-shot opening batsman for KKR, but they need another quality stroke maker who could either open the innings with Gill or could come at number three. And Alex Hales can be a very good option.
The England cricketer has recently shown supreme form with the willow. He has performed remarkably well for Sydney Thunder in the 2020-21 edition of the Big Bash League (BBL) in Australia. The right-handed-batsman has amassed 543 runs from 15 matches at a phenomenal strike-rate of 161.60.
Hales has also smashed three half-centuries and a hundred in the T20 league. Considering his current form, the English cricketer could be a worthy buy for KKR in the upcoming auctions.
2.) Sandeep Lamichhane
Since KKR have only one overseas spot left for IPL 2021, they might target a specialist spinner for the fourteenth edition, if not going for a top-order batsman. KKR have Narine and Varun Chakravarthy in the squad, but they both are finger spinners. The Eoin Morgan-led side might target a wrist spinner, and Sandeep Lamichhane could fill in that spot.
Lamichhane has been released by Delhi Capitals (DC) ahead of the bidding process. The leg-spinner has tremendous experience in the shortest format. The right-armer has picked up 121 wickets in 93 T20 games at an impressive strike-rate of 16.
If KKR picks Lamichhane, they can rotate him with Narine and form an outstanding bowling combination with Varun.
3.) Shivam Dube
Shivam Dube was released from Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) squad due to his poor form in the previous season of the cash-rich league. Dube appeared in 11 matches where he picked up only four wickets and scored 129 runs at an average of 18.42.
However, Dube can be a worthy pick for KKR considering the fact that IPL 2021 will take place in India. Despite having Andre Russell in the previous season, KKR have missed a batsman who could contribute with some quick runs down the order and Dube can fill that gap.
4.) Piyush Chawla
Piyush Chawla is another quality spinner that can be a valuable option for KKR. He has played for the Knight Riders in the past and has done wonders for them. When it comes to IPL 2020, Chawla played 7 games for Chennai Super Kings (CSK) and could only earn six wickets.
Ahead of the upcoming auctions, Chawla was released by CSK. Overall, the leggie has played 164 matches and bagged 156 wickets with 4/17 being his best. Chawla is the third-highest wicket-taker in the history of IPL.