IPL 2018: Kolkata Knight Riders team news ahead of season-opener
Kolkata Knight Riders fans were devastated to hear that Australian seamer Mitchell Starc had been ruled out of the Indian Premier League last week. Starc, bought for a huge INR 9.4 crore, is one of the world's best fast bowlers at the moment - known for his lethal yorkers and rapid pace.
Earlier this week, KKR announced that his replacement would be the young and enigmatic Tom Curran, who has played internationally for England and has been a key player for Surrey in the T20 Blast.
Heading into the season, there are numerous other injury concerns. The availability of big-hitter Chris Lynn was questioned after he dislocated his shoulder in an international match against New Zealand. Lynn was ruled out of the Pakistan Super League and did not even travel, but sought medical attention back in Australia.
However, Lynn now seems to be fully fit and raring to go ahead of the start of the IPL season. The KKR management are more than happy for him to participate in a training match, assuming that he passes their fitness tests. He is likely to take part in KKR's opening match against the Royal Challengers Bangalore on Sunday.
Fellow Aussie Mitchell Johnson also endured an injury scare after he sustained a very serious cut to his scalp during a gym session. It took an incredible 16 stitches for his head to be patched up and he posted some horrific pictures on his social media account, which showed the gruesome injury.
That was last month and he seems to have recovered quickly. Johnson, who will have to play a much bigger role for KKR with Starc ruled out, is also on his way to India. Like Lynn, Johnson is likely to participate in the practice match tomorrow and also in their season opener. This news will come as a huge boost to KKR fans.
On a slightly different note, Sunil Narine's bowling action has once again come under scrutiny. His action was reported in the past which forced him to remodel it a few years ago. This made his deliveries easier to pick and slightly less effective.
Narine's action was reported during the Pakistan Super League and as a result, there were doubts over whether he would be able to bowl during the IPL. However, KKR CEO Venky Mysore said that he has spoken with representatives from the IPL, confirming that Narine should be fine to bowl in the tournament.
Mysore was quoted as saying: “I had a very good conversation with the IPL, there’s absolutely no issue with Sunil. He’s joined the side, it’s business as usual. No worries there." This is certainly promising news for KKR as Narine is one of the most economical bowlers in the history of the IPL and could even open for his franchise as a pinch-hitter.
Andre Russell was another injury scare, as the West Indian all-rounder picked up an unfortunate hamstring injury in the Pakistan Super League. This forced him to leave the PSL early, but he seems to have recovered and is set to play a full role for KKR this season. Russell was banned from playing in the IPL last year after failing a doping test. Having served his one-year ban, Russell is ready to light up the IPL once again.
KKR will be greatly bolstered by the return of Narine, Russell, Johnson and Lynn - who could be their four overseas starters. They are some of the most exciting players in world cricket and could help KKR push for another IPL title.