Category: _author:Arjit Dabas

Test Debutants – Part 1: From Inaugural Match …

As Afghanistan prepare to become a Test playing country, let’s look back on how the previous eleven teams to have played Test cricket fared on debut.

Australia vs England (Melbourne,1877)

The first ever Test match was played between these two countries at Melbourne Cricket Ground. It was a timeless Test match which Australia won by 45 runs. Interestingly, few of the records from the game still stand out – England’s James Southerton remains the oldest Test debutant, making his debut at 49. Australia’s Charles Bannerman was retired hurt on 165 as his team scored 245, scoring 69.6% of total runs – another Test record which still stands. England’s Alfred Shaw bowled the first Test delivery and his teammate Allen Hill picked up the first Test wicket. Bannerman also scored the first run in Test cricket.

South Africa vs England (Port Elizabeth, 1889)

South Africa became the third Test nation, after they faced England at Port Elizabeth. The game got the official Test status only in 1906 after South Africa, along with England and Australia went onto the form the Imperial Cricket Conference. England registered a comprehensive eight-wicket win as it was one of the weakest South African line-up ever. The game was finished just in two days with England’s Sir Aubrey Hill picking 5/19 which helped dismiss South Africa for a 84. Rose-Hills picked 5/43 which helped South Africa dismiss England for 148 but the home side were dismissed for 129 in their second innings. England reached the target of 67 with nine wickets to spare.

England vs West Indies (London, 1928)

West Indies played their first Test match in 1928 against England and suffered an innings loss. West Indies lost all the matches in the three-Test series by an innings. Batting first, England reached 401 with Ernest Tyldesly scoring 122, West Indies in their two innings were dismissed for 177 and 166 respectively. Vallance Jupp (4/37) and Tich Freeman (4/37) starred with the ball.

New Zealand vs England (Christchurch, 1930)

Next entrant to the Test arena were New Zealand, they were granted the Test status in 1927, based on strong performances in England where they managed to beat county sides like Worcestershire, Glamorgan, Somerset and Derbyshire. Their first Test though was a low scoring affair with Kiwis being bundled out for 112 and then England being dismissed for 181. New Zealand could only set a small target of 66 for the visitors, which they reached comfortably. Next three matches though ended in a draw as New Zealand showed a lot more promise.

England vs India (London, 1932)

India was the first Asian side to be granted Test status, after being invited to join the Imperial Cricket Conference, they were led by CK Nayudu – considered one of India’s finest batsman. The team played at Lord’s but poor batting led to India’s downfall as they managed to dismiss England for 259, but were bundled out for 189 in their first innings. England declared at 275/8 and then India were dismissed for 187 with all the England bowlers being among the wickets. India recorded their first Test victory only in 1952 against the same opponents in Madras.

Test Debutants – Part 2: Pakistan’s Travel Acr…

India vs Pakistan (Delhi, 1952)

Pakistan were the next team to be granted Test status and faced rivals India in their first Test. Vinoo Mankad spun a web around the Pakistani’s, picking 8/52 in the first innings and then following it up with a 5/79 in the second innings. Hanif Mohammad – who was liked equally by both Indians and Pakistanis was a star attraction and scored a fine half-century. Pakistan managed to beat India in the second Test and ensured that they didn’t lose their debut series.

Sri Lanka vs England (Colombo, 1982)

Sri Lanka was the next Asian side to be granted Test status as they took on England at Colombo, losing by seven wickets in their debut Test. The team was led by Bandula Warnapura and had the likes of Arjuna Ranatunga and Ranjan Madugalle in the line-up. Sri Lanka were dismissed for 218, with Madugalle (65) and Ranatunga (54) being the main contributors. David Gower scored a fine 89 to lead England’s reply. John Emburey picked up 6/33 as Sri Lanka were dismissed for 175 and England easily chased down 171.

Zimbabwe vs India (Harare, 1992)

Zimbabwe played India in their first ever match and managed to draw the game against a strong Indian side. Captain Dave Houghton scored 121, with Grant and Andy Flower scoring 82 and 59 respectively as Zimbabwe scored 456 in their first innings. Sanjay Manjrekar (104) and Kapil Dev (60) were the key contributors with the bat as India were dismissed for 307. Zimbabwe played out a draw as they ended on 146/4. The team managed to win just one of the first 30 matches they played – against Pakistan in 1995 – leading to criticism of them being granted the Test status.

Bangladesh vs India (Dhaka 2000)

ICC awarded Test status to Bangladesh in 2000 and it was India who played a key role, with then ICC President Jagmohan Dalmiya advicing the Bangladesh Cricket Board on how to go about convincing other members. Bangladesh showed a lot of promise in the first innings, with captain Aminul Islam Bulbul scoring a fine century as Bangladesh reached 400. They had India on the mat, with the visitors struggling at 236/6 before Sunil Joshi and Sourav Ganguly stitched an important partnership. Joshi scored 92 and Ganguly contributed 84 as India managed to take a slender lead. Bangladesh failed to show any application in the second innings and were dismissed for 91, and India chased down the small target of 64 with nine-wickets to spare.

Ireland vs Pakistan (Dublin, 2018)

Ireland were the newest entrants into the Test arena, facing a strong Pakistan team in their first game. But this was not the first time two teams were facing each other in the Test arena. The Ireland women’s team had faced the Pakistan women’s team in a Test, which was the only Test Ireland had ever played before. The Irish women’s team won that match by an innings and 54 runs. The men’s team though had a tougher introduction to the Test arena, Pakistan declared at 310/9 before dismissing Ireland for 130. Following on, Kevin O’Brien scored a fine ton as Ireland reached 339 but Imam Ul Haq’s unbeaten 74 ensure Pakistan reached the target comfortably with five wickets to spare.

QUIZ: How Well Do You Know Test Cricket’s Late…

With Afghanistan set to make their Test debut against India on Thursday, here is a small quiz to see how well do you know the latest members of the Test club.

Do not forget to share your results on Twitter, Facebook and tag Cricketnext on it!

Cricket a Religion But Covering Wimbledon Rema…

Alan Wilkins or ‘Wilkinson’ as he is often called in India remains one of the most popular voices in sports broadcasting. He has covered some of the biggest sporting tournaments in the world, right from the Cricket World Cup to Wimbledon.

He is one of the most recognizable faces in India and thus it was no surprise to see the bookshop buzzing as he signed copies of his recently published autobiography peculiarly titled ‘Easier Said Than Done’

Wilkins discusses his journey from being a county cricketer to a multi-faceted sports broadcaster in the book. He sat down exclusively with Cricketnext, as he talked about his latest release and the evolution inside the commentator’s box, back from when he started in mid-80s to now, where in the age of social media, the fans always demand more and more.

The title ‘Easier Said Than Done’ really stands out, could you tell us the reasoning behind it?

It took me a lot of time to single-down on the title, in my computer, while writing down the book, I had thought of No Shoulder No Cry. In fact, still all the drafts are saved by that name only. However, my publisher in UK didn’t like it as much. Then, we went through a lot of titles but he kept knocking everything back. So, over the phone we were having a conversation and I said, you know it’s easier said than done and just like that we had the title. But I still like No Shoulder No Cry and who knows, I might have a sequel by that name.

You had an impressive county career which was cut short by an injury. Looking back now, are there any regrets?

The injury happened when I was 28, which is young for a cricketer. I had two good seasons with Gloucestershire and I was beginning to feel I could go onto the next level which was international cricket. In my third year in 1982, I didn’t bowl a ball due to my injury. My rehab wasn’t managed well enough and when I came back with Glamorgan, I was never that effective as a bowler. I had two years of contract with Glamorgan left when I decided to move. But considering the career I have had as a broadcaster, I have no regrets.

Did broadcasting come as a natural progression to you or did you look other avenues like coaching as well?

Somehow, I never saw myself as a coach. I enjoyed coaching youngsters and did some work with boys & girls but I just saw my future in radio, not even television. Then in January 1984, SABC offered me a job as a sports reporter in Johannesburg and I knew the people working there, so I didn’t have to think much and took the opportunity.

What are some of the changes you have seen in sports broadcasting over the years?

It is certainly more relaxed now, players have a quicker transition from being a cricketer to inside the commentary box.. Some find it quite straightforward or some might take a little bit longer. With satellite television and social media, we know these people more. The modern-day commentary box is more relaxed and broadcasters are now focusing on bringing in different types of personalities

With social media and advancing technology, where do you see the future of sports broadcasting going?

The cameras are getting closer to the action. For example, in rugby you have cameras that are going to dressing room at half-time. Sometimes I feel it’s going too close, players need privacy and also dressing room remains the inner sanctum. Privacy is becoming lesser and lesser, I feel there is a very fine line between broadcasting and privacy, which needs to be kept in mind.

Considering cricketers are often treated as demigods in the country, does that make you job tough as a broadcaster?

Asian teams are followed religiously but still have to do your job and call it as you say it. My job is to facilitate a conversation. One should never be scared with airing a view point. Every cricketer hates criticism, but it comes with a job. It’s like having a bad day at the office. I don’t mind speaking with a player personally if required to explain my viewpoint, but still one shouldn’t be afraid to speak his mind.

You’re one of the few broadcasters who covers a variety of sports, how easy is the transition and what is the key behind it?

Preparation required is huge, it’s a big cornerstone of being multi-faceted. Earlier, there were no mobile phones, no internet so the preparation involved was arduous and you had to contact sporting bodies for information, you wouldn’t get much but you had to write to them. I have still have tons of handwritten files and notes. I am still more of a pen and paper guy as that helps me retain something for longer period.

Which sport do you enjoy the most to cover?

I love the variety I get. Sitting with Vijay Amritraj at Wimbledon is a pleasure. I enjoy watching Wimbledon and sitting with him is a privilege. Though I am doing a lot of cricket these days but nothing is better than a fortnight at Wimbledon. For me, that remains the standout in the sporting calendar.

Roger Federer winning Wimbledon or Virat Kohli lifting the World Cup in England, which event would you like to be a part of?

That’s a tough one. Virat is 29 and still has a few years in him. Roger meanwhile is already 37, so he doesn’t have many years in him. So my vote would go to Roger at Wimbledon. I am sure if you ask Virat, he would say the same thing, he is a big Roger Federer fan.

MI Young Turk Siddhesh Has an Elder Brother in…

New Delhi: The stage was set. It was a college tournament consisting of best teams from India, Sri Lanka and Pakistan, when a 20-year-old boy from Rizvi College smashed an unbeaten 98 off just 28 balls. He destroyed the opposition bowling single-handedly and helped his team win the tournament.

Former Pakistan wicket-keeper Moin Khan was among those watching the boy and he said that this special talent needs to be watched out for in the future.

That boy was none other than Siddhesh Lad and a year later he made his debut for Mumbai.

“He was a natural talent, every child is given a bat and ball when he is small. But the way he held the bat and the way his bat flow was, I knew that he was a born cricketer. From the age of 6 I started giving him special attention and always wanted to see him become a cricketer,” says his father Dinesh Lad, who is also a famous name in Mumbai cricket circles.

“I never gave him any preference when coaching him in the group, but since he was my son, I used to work with him on Saturday and Sunday as well, when other kids had an off. I had to ensure that I gave him the best of coaching,” adds Lad, who has also coached Rohit Sharma when he was young.

Now Siddhesh and Rohit share the same Mumbai Indians dressing room at Wankhede stadium.

“Rohit is like an elder brother to Siddhesh, he keeps talking to him about the game and has also had a word with me. He spoke in the media also about giving a chance to Siddhesh. But I understand, it depends on the combinations he wants. The Mumbai middle-order is also packed with the likes of Pandya, Pollard and Rohit himself. Suryakumar is also doing well as an opener but Siddhesh should see this as a learning experience and improve his game,” adds Dinesh.

This has been the breakout year for Siddhesh in the domestic circuit, he was the highest run scorer in all three formats for Mumbai.

He scored an impressive 652 runs at an average of 59.27 in the Ranji Trophy. He was even better in the Vijay Hazare trophy, where he scored 373 runs in 6 matches at an average of 62.16.

In the Syed Mushtaq Ali trophy as well he scored 271 runs at a strike-rate of 138.26.

In fact, he is known as the ‘Crisis man’ for Mumbai and that tag came to the fore in Mumbai’s 500th Ranji match – where they were up against Baroda and were facing an embarrassing defeat.

But Lad’s gritty innings of 71* of 238 balls helped his team come out with a draw.

He also scored 82 in the 2015-16 Ranji Trophy final for Mumbai, an important innings which helped Mumbai win their 41st title.

His father has only one advice for him – not to get disheartened and continue performing in the domestic circuit.

“See IPL is not the priority, my dream is to see him play for India. If he continues performing the same way for a couple of more seasons, it will be hard for the selectors to ignore him,” says Dinesh, signing off.

MI Coach Mahela Jayawardene More Than a Mentor…

New Delhi: Son of a carpenter, life was never easy for Sri Lanka’s spin sensation Akila Dananjaya, who is the latest from Sri Lanka’s stable of mystery spinners. He has been one of the bright spots in the national team over the past couple of years when Sri Lankan cricket has been on bit of a decline.

He came to prominence after a breathtaking spell against India, when he dismantled the famed batting line-up, picking up 6-54 in Pallekele. Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli, KL Rahul, Kedar Jadhav, Hardik Pandya and Axar Patel were among the victims with no one being able to read him.

MS Dhoni and Bhuvneshwar Kumar later on helped India win the game, but Dananjaya’s performance didn’t go unnoticed as he became the only Sri Lankan to be bought in the auction, when Mumbai Indians picked him for Rs 50 lakh.

There, he is reunited with Mahela Jayawardene – the former Sri Lankan skipper who played a big role in Dananjaya’s rise.

He made his debut in the 2012 T20 World Cup, under Jayawardene, at the age of 18 without playing much first class cricket.

A lot of controversy was created and accusations were thrown at him that he had used money power and political influence to get into the team.

The 24-year-old had only played tier-three school cricket for Mahanama Vidyalaya when he was called up to bowl in the nets for Sri Lanka ahead of Pakistan tour in 2011.

There, Jayawardene and then coach Graham Ford were left stunned by what they saw. He had seven variations and could bowl the leg- spinner, googly, doosra and the off-spinner.

His first professional match was for Wayamba United in the Sri Lanka Premier League, where he played under Jayawardene’s captaincy.

Wayamba’s coach Trevor Bayliss was mighty impressed by what he saw. “What’s been really good to see is his temperament, for a guy who hasn’t played at this level before. The control with which he bowls his various deliveries is impressive, but he’s also shown a lot of poise at the big moments, and a tendency to ignore what’s going on around him and do what he does,” he was quoted as saying by ESPNCricinfo.

“The challenge for him will come when batsmen get a better look at him and begin to work him out,” Bayliss added.

“But he has the basics there to make him a good bowler regardless, and maybe in future his focus might be on the more orthodox aspects of spin bowling.”

In 19 ODIs so far for Sri Lanka, he has picked up 21 wickets at an economy of just below 5. His T20I record isn’t the most impressive as he has 12 wickets in 15 games at an economy of just below 8.

Dananjaya didn’t have the best of debuts in the IPL, where he ended with figures of 0/47 in 4 overs but this will surely be a learning curve for him.

You can’t help but feel that this is only the beginning of the Dananjaya story!

IPL 2018: Despite Injury Setback, MD Nidheesh’…

New Delhi: It was supposed to be the biggest day of his life but it ended in heartbreak as 26-year-old fast bowler MD Nidheesh suffered a knee injury which cut short his trial with the Mumbai Indians.

“I had given up hopes of playing in the IPL, but then I got a call from Tinu Sir who told me that Mumbai Indians had inquired about me. I just asked him if I stand any chance of getting picked,” said Nidheesh, while talking to Mumbai Indians TV.

He was eventually picked on base price of Rs. 20 lakh by Mumbai Indians in the auction and he couldn’t hold his excitement.

“I was informed by a media person and I didn’t know how to express it. I was really excited and thankful to god and my parents,” Nidheesh said, recollecting the moment.

He has been making big strides for Kerala in the domestic circuit, impressing everyone with his pace and ability to swing the ball – much like state’s other star cricketer S.Sreesanth.

“He has a nice clean action and a deadly out-swinger. He can consistently clock above 145-kph and that makes him a valuable asset for any team,” says his long-time coach NA Sunil, during a telephonic conversation with Cricketnext. Sunil has been with the bowler for the past 8 years.

“What stands out for me is his hardwork and dedication. If he sets himself a goal, then he goes all out to achieve it. He was desperate to seal a spot in the IPL and I am really happy that the Mumbai Indians showed faith in him. Sreesanth and Yohannan have spoken highly about him so he certainly has the talent to make it big,” Sunil adds.

Former India pacer Tinu Yohannan, who is also the Kerala bowling coach has played a key role in Nideesh’s development and also helped him deal with the injury.

“He had a fantastic Ranji Trophy season and was disappointed when he got injured. He missed important tournaments(Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy) but we made him go through the rehab, he was called for the Kerala camp (Vijay Hazare Trophy) to Chennai and there he showed a lot of improvement,” says Yohannan.

He feels his maturity and clarity of thought will hold him in good deed going ahead.

“He has a good head on his shoulders and executes the plans well. He needs someone to show faith in him and he can deliver. If he can maintain the consistency he showed in Ranji Trophy, then he will surely be in contention for the national call-up,” Yohannan adds.

Though this might be his first stint with an IPL team, Nidheesh was earlier a net bowler for Kochi Tuskers Kerala. There, he had rattled the likes of VVS Laxman, Kedar Jadhav and Brendon McCullum.

In Mumbai Indians, Nidheesh will be sharing the dressing room with the likes of Jasprit Bumrah, Pat Cummins, Mustafizur Rahman and Mitchell McClenaghan while working under the watchful eyes of former New Zealand great Shane Bond.

Yohannan backs his ward to come back stronger from the experience.

“I think he might play a couple of games but even if he doesn’t he will learn a lot from the experience of sharing the dressing room with such big names. He will return as a much better bowler for sure,” says Yohannan.

A lot of people in Kerala will be watching to see if Nidheesh can indeed live up to the expectations and carry on the state’s legacy of producing high quality fast bowlers.

IPL 2018 Analysis: Delhi Daredevils — Strength…

After ten seasons of IPL, if there is one team that has continuously failed to live up to the hype, it’s the Delhi Daredevils. The capital based franchise has been instrumental in introducing big names such as AB de Villiers, David Warner to the league, but has surprisingly let them go. Delhi often lose the season at the auction table, but it seems like a different story this year, as the assembled squad with Ricky Ponting as coach looks formidable on paper. Local lad Gautam Gambhir has returned and will lead the team. Big hitting Glenn Maxwell is also back in the Daredevils camp.

After being consistent underperformers, this might well be the year for Delhi and we take a look at their strengths, weaknesses and also predict where they’d finish.

STRENGTHS

Captain Reliable – In Gautam Gambhir, Delhi have a captain who knows what it takes to win the IPL. He has delivered for Kolkata Knight Riders and Delhi will be hoping that he can do the same for them after investing Rs 2.80 crore in him. He knows how to work with the younger players and is also an asset for the team in terms of getting the crowds to the stadium. The only drawback might be a clash of personalities with coach Ricky Ponting – as both are aggressive in nature – which could hamper the team.

Pacers Aplenty – Delhi could have a potential pace bowling attack of Kagiso Rabada, Trent Boult, Mohammed Shami and Chris Morris. Though, Rabada and Boult are likely to play in rotation but Delhi has a lot of options on paper. They will be hoping that the track at Kotla supports them and is not a low-slow pitch. In Harshal Patel and Avesh Khan, the team has more than decent domestic bowlers, who have proven themselves in the league.

World Class Openers – Gambhir will have more than able supportive opening partner in Colin Munro. For back up Delhi have Jason Roy and also local talent such as Manjot Kalra and Prithvi Shaw. Gambhir’s job will be to provide the stability so that his partner from the other end can go berserk. Delhi will certainly be a team to watch this year!

WEAKNESSES

Inexperienced middle-order – Delhi’s middle-order is prone to collapses and that is something they will have to guard against. Pant, Maxwell and Iyer are all big hitters but none of them are as reliable as Delhi would like. A lot of responsibility will lie on Iyer to provide stability to this batting line-up.

TRUMP CARD

Glenn Maxwell was the key player for Punjab, but after a rollicking start to his IPL career in UAE, where he announced himself, Maxwell hasn’t been as consistent as he would like to be. With a strike-rate of 164.50 and 6 half-centuries to his name, he certainly has the x-factor.

In Ponting, Maxwell has a coach who trusts him and backs him to deliver, something a player like Maxwell needs. Also, in this Delhi line-up he can just focus on his batting without the burden of captaincy.

PREDICTION

It would be a real disappointment to see this Delhi team miss out on the top 4 and they should be one of the top two teams. A likely championship contender on paper.

IPL Gives You Confidence to Succeed in Interna…

Karun Nair has been quite a journeyman when it comes to the Indian Premier League, having plied his trade at Royal Challengers Bangalore, Rajasthan Royals, Delhi Daredevils over the years.

This season, the 26-year-old was bought by Kings XI Punjab for a whopping 5.60 crore. In fact, Nair was one of the players who announced himself at the IPL before eventually getting the India call-up.

“IPL has played a huge role for me, as a domestic player playing in the IPL and doing well gives you the confidence as you’re playing against international quality. I was lucky enough to play with the Royals. They put me out there and gave me confidence. I am also thankful that they gave me sufficient time to make an impact,” said Nair in an exclusive chat with Cricketnext.

After gaining prominence with the IPL, he went onto play for India and became the second triple-centurion after Virender Sehwag, as he smashed an unbeaten 303 against England in Chennai. However, he went onto play just three more innings before being dropped from the squad.

Talking about the period, Nair added that he has worked on the mental aspect and when the chance arises, he will come back as a better player.

“I have learnt that it is important to maintain an emotional balance and not go overboard with things. Now, it doesn’t affect me as much as it did before. I can only do my bit and score at the domestic level. Rest is upto the selectors and the team management, what I do know is that I will be a better player next time I get an opportunity,”

He added that he was looking forward to meet his team director at Kings XI Punjab, Virender Sehwag and pick things from him.

“He is separate from any other cricketer in terms of his fearlessness and the way he played his game. I can’t be like him but I will have a word with him. He will understand my situation (of having scored and then being dropped) better. If his style works for me, then I will certainly work on it,” Nair said.

Kings XI have a unique situation with the core batting group having three batsmen from Karnataka, KL Rahul and Mayank Agarwal along with Nair.

“It’s certainly an advantage playing together, we understand each other’s game really well and it will be exciting to play together. We have a very well rounded team and I am looking forward to an exciting season ahead,” he said.

Nair was also all praise for first time IPL captain Ravichandran Ashwin, who will be leading a T20 side for the first time. Calling him an innovative captain, Nair said, “I am excited to play under him. I have know him for the past two-three years and he is a really smart guy. He thinks on his feet and is a forward thinking captain. ”

Though he added that he hasn’t had a word on the role the team has in mind for him yet, but he is working on his strengths and is confident to deliver whatever the team management expects.

Kings XI fans will certainly be hoping that Nair settles in quickly and delivers for the franchise as they look to win their first ever IPL title.

IPL 2018 Analysis: Kolkata Knight Riders – Str…

Kolkata Knight Riders are always one of the teams to watch out for in the Indian Premier League. The team owned by Shah Rukh Khan always has some big names in the line-up, but that’s where KKR fans will be slightly disappointed as no big Indian players are in the team. With inspirational captain Gautam Gambhir going back to Delhi, KKR have trusted Dinesh Karthik – who became an instant hero with a last ball six against Bangladesh – to take over the reins. We take a look at the strengths and weaknesses of the KKR team and also predict where they’d finish in this year’s IPL.

STRENGTHS

Solid Opening Combination

With the ever reliable Gautam Gambhir departing, it means Chris Lynn and Robin Uthappa will be the likely openers, with Sunil Narine being the other contender. This makes the opening combination not only explosive but also stable. Lynn has the ability to single-handedly win games with the bat and KKR will be banking on the Australian to deliver when it matters. The openers will be the key for Kolkata if they are to pose any significant challenge for the title.

Spinning Options

In Sunil Narine, Piyush Chawla and Kuldeep Yadav, KKR easily has the best spinning options on paper. All three are more than handy with the bat also. They will be hoping that the pitch at Eden Gardens backs the slower bowlers, which hasn’t been the case in recent times. But whenever these three get favourable conditions, you can expect KKR to be in the game till the last ball.

In-form Captain

Dinesh Karthik’s recent heroics will mean he will come into the tournament on a high and with runs under his belt. That will also help him settle in the role of the captain and help him earn the respect of his teammates. With an impressive showing in the IPL, Karthik will all but seal a spot in the limited-overs setup of the Indian team going ahead and that should be motivation enough for him to perform.

WEAKNESSES

Inexperienced Middle-order

Dinesh Karthik is likely to be the mainstay of what will be a rather inexperienced middle order. KKR have invested heavily in U-19 star Shubhman Gill but it remains to be seen how he will square up against some of the best bowlers in the world. Other than that, Ishank Jaggi, Andre Russell and Nitish Rana are the other likely contenders and none inspire confidence. If openers fail to provide decent starts, it could well spell trouble for KKR.

Pace Attack

An attack led by Mitchell Starc and Mitchell Johnson can never really be a weakness, but again KKR have decided to invest in U-19 pacers Kamlesh Nagarkoti and Shivam Mavi. Their performances might well be crucial for the team. Vinay Kumar is also no longer a force he used to be a couple of years back. With Johnson only playing in the IPL, his form will surely be a worry. That means over-reliance on Starc and if he gets injured or fails to deliver, then it might well look like a rookie attack.

Over-reliance on Youth

If teams had to be judged by their youth power, then KKR will surely be a top team, but as IPL has shown, any good team needs to be a mixture of youth and experience. Gill, Nagarkoti and Mavi were certainly the stars of India’s U19 journey, but IPL is a step above. It will be interesting to see how they react to being thrust into the spotlight in front of an unforgiving Eden crowd, that being said, they could easily rise to the occasion and turn out to be the stars of the tournament.

Trump Card

Nagarkoti remains one of the big bets for KKR. The pacer was impressive in the U-19 World Cup, consistently clocking above 140kph and rattling opposition batsmen. It will be exciting to watch him run into bowl to some of the best batsmen in the world.

Prediction

Kolkata might find the going a bit tough this season and my prediction is that they are likely to finish in the bottom half of the table.