Probably one of the most successful sides in the IPL, Kolkata Knight Riders have indeed come a long way to reach this spot. From first three horrific seasons, a change in management saw new hopes rising in the team, and the hopes indeed saw them reach to their destiny. Backed by the Bollywood hearthrob Shah Rukh Khan, the team has won two IPL seasons in 2012 and 2014 and go into this season defending that coveted prize. Here we look at the Kolkata Knight Riders of 2015 :-

Departures : Vinay Kumar (MI), Manvinder Bisla (RCB), Jacques Kallis, Debabrata Das, Sayan Mondal

Arrivals : Jimmy Neesham, Brad Hogg, KC Carriapa, Sheldon Jackson, Aditya Garhwal, Sumit Narwal, Vaibhav Rawal, Azhar Mahmood, Johan Botha

Kolkata have done some smart purchases this season, adding Jimmy Neesham and Brad Hogg for their base price. But one signing will has caught the eye of everyone, Karnataka leg spinner KC Cariappa, who is termed as the ‘mystery spinner’. Signed for 2.4 crores, 24 times his base price (10 lakhs), this is surely a mystery signing by KKR. However, injuries to Jimmy Neesham and Chris Lynn had forced them to get two replacements in Azhar Mahmood and Johan Botha. They both possess the much needed experience needed for this format and would help KKR in many aspects. Let’s take a look at how they could lineup :-

Gautam Gambhir : The Delhi opener has been a core figure of this KKR side since 2011. Since becoming the captain, he has changed fortunes of the team, leading his side to two IPL trophies in three years. His red hot aggression has been a focal point of his captaincy. But his batting form has been indifferent as of late. His good starts could be key along with someone in Robin Uthappa.

Robin Uthappa : The leading run scorer of their title winning season, Robin Uthappa has also been one of the dis-possessive members of this KKR team. He had converted all his great starts into half centuries and was the only player in IPL history to score 5 consecutive 50+ scores. And he capped off another Ranji season being the highest scorer of the tournament, 875 runs . He is also one of the leading candidates to replace MS Dhoni in the test team and could gain that vacant place with another impressive IPL season.

Manish Pandey : Another Karnataka lad who was instrumental in KKR’s title triumph last season, Manish Pandey is another indisplaceable member of this team. Scoring 93 in his hometown in the IPL final, it was his knock that powered to that win in the finals. And another strong Ranji showing could better his credentials for representing India at international level. Could be used to stable the side if early wickets fall or hard hitting for adding good runs.

Yusuf Pathan : One of the biggest hard hitters of the side, Yusuf Pathan can give them a step ahead for adding runs in huge portions. Yusuf had created history last season when he scored the fastest 50 in IPL history and was the key reason which led them to playoffs last term. He looks to repeat that performance this time out as well.

Ryan Ten Doeschate : With Shakib Al Hasan missing the majority of the tournament prior to International commitments, this is seemingly one of the best chances for Dutch ace Tendo. His performance in the purple and gold have however been underwhelming as of late, but would prove the selectors wrong if he picks up the needed consistency. KKR would use the Johan Botha as an alternative to him if he fails.

Suryakumar Yadav : Kolkata are lucky to have such a batsman like Surya who could finish the game when needed. Blessed with unorthodox shot styles, he is certainly a treat to watch whenever he plays. He is also an electric fielder for KKR and could be a key player heading into this season.

Andre Russell : The Jamaican all rounder must be the unluckiest of all players to have had limited IPL action. And the retirement of Jacques Kallis has opened the door for this person to prove what he’s capable of in the World’s best T20 league. Another finisher of the team or could be brought early to add some runs and also a regular bowling option. Could alternate with the experienced Azhar Mahmood if he fails/injured.

KC Cariappa : The mystery signing for KKR, many eyebrows were raised when he was bought for a hefty sum of 2.4 cr. For a player who hasn’t even played first class cricket, this was too much of a sum. And could be a key factor why he’d be in the first team instead of the experienced Piyush Chawla aur the chinaman Kuldeep Yadav. Let’s see if he justifies his price tag or just becomes another lost in the wind player.

Sunil Narine : Recently cleared by the BCCI for his bowling action, the Trinidadian spinner gives KKR a huge boost heading into this season. Known for his variations and economical bowling, he’d be another key asset for KKR this season. Let’s see how it fares for him coming from a long time off cricket. Can be alternated with Brad Hogg.

Morne Morkel : The frontline bowler for KKR, Morne hasn’t disappointed in the IPL whenever he has played. He had struck 12 wickets in 12 games for them last season and would play the same role again. But because of his injury record, he can be alternated with Australian Pat Cummins.

Umesh Yadav : He was India’s leading wickettaker in the recently concluded World Cup. And by the looks of it, his confidence must be really high. Could be crucial for KKR in the death overs.

Overall, KKR has matchwinners in both the departments. They can take away the game in whichever situations possible. Could they lead them to another IPL trophy? Only time will tell.

They begin their title defence on the opening day of the tournament when they face Mumbai Indians at Eden Gardens. KORBO LORBO JEETBO!

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