BENGALURU: Six-hitters, check. Quality foreigners, check. Good India batsmen, check. Spinners, check. Most of the boxes have been ticked for the Kolkata Knight Riders, but a closer look at the squad reflects a lack of experienced Indian pacers in their line-up despite their quality.
Prasidh Krishna, Sandeep Warrier, Shivam Mavi, and Kamlesh Nagarkoti have played a combined 30 IPL matches in total.
The latter is yet to make his IPL debut, but the quartet has earned respect in domestic cricket with their skills.
But lack of matches is not bothering head coach Brendon McCullum, who has been impressed with their talent and pace.
“Indian bowling line-up on the surface does lack a little bit of experience, in terms of games under your belt. But, they have an incredible amount of talent, bowling in excess of 140 km/hr. They are slightly different in the way they operate too, which is good for us in a tactical way. I think there are a couple of superstars in our bowling line up,” said the coach during a press conference.
But, when it comes to the pace department, they will majorly rely on the services of Australian pacer Pat Cummins, who was signed for a mammoth 15.5 crores and became the costliest foreign player ever.
Besides the vast experience he brings into the bowling attack, he comes to the IPL on the back of some competitive cricket against England.
For the majority of Indian players, it will be their first game after more than six months.
It is not about Cummins alone. They also have Lockie Ferguson and Andre Russell to aid him in this department when required.
Their spin duo of Kuldeep Yadav and Sunil Narine will be required more as the competition progresses further. And McCullum is happy with the squad at his disposal.
“Cummins was an important selection in the auction. He was the key buy when it came to overseas bowlers, his pace, his experience, leadership qualities, and also his ability to take early wickets. If that can be done, we know that we have got some quality spinners and when you couple that together..... I am content with the unit we have got, particularly on these wickets, cause I think there may be little more in them then what many people are anticipating,” said the former Kiwi captain.
However, it is their batting, which looks super strong. In Dinesh Karthik, Andre Russell and Eoin Morgan, they have some of the best finishers in the game.
And all noises coming out from the Kolkata camp hints about a possible promotion for the all-rounder Russell, who scored 510 runs at a strike rate of 204 while batting at six or seven mostly when required.
Add the new kid on the block, Tom Banton, and the likes of Nitish Rana and Shubman Gill as well, they have a balanced batting line-up, which can shine on all surfaces. And McCullum sang praise for Gill, who is expected to bat at the top.
“Shubman is suited at the top of the order. He is a quality player and especially if the wicket is tricky early on against fast bowling, you would want players with best technique and best batsmanship and craft…he is one of those guys who has that. And I see him batting at the top of the order throughout the campaign. From a leadership point of view, I am very impressed with the way he carries himself and the way he plays the game,” said McCullum.