IPL 2018: Why Kolkata Knight Riders are the most likely team to inherit the wooden spoon this year
The hype surrounding the build-up to the 11th edition of the Indian Premier League has been extremely massive.
It all began with the IPL Auctions 2018 back on 27th and 28th of January which was held in Bengaluru.
A massive 578 players went under the hammer with only 169 of them managing to lure bids from the eight participating franchises.
While much has been opined about the resultant teams coming out of the auctions, the one outfit that has invited a huge number of doubters is the Kolkata Knight Riders.
January was too early to judge how the two-time IPL champions could fare in the upcoming season.
Moreover, there were negatives to count in other franchises as well. However, with the recent turn of events concerning the Knight Riders, things don't look bright for the Shah Rukh Khan co-owned franchise.
The situation is such that they might end up finishing at the bottom of the IPL table come May 2018.
Lack of leadership
Let's get the most obvious reason out of the way. One glance at the KKR teamsheet reveals the fact that there is an obvious absence of leaders.
Dinesh Karthik has been appointed as the captain for KKR and while he is receiving much-deserved plaudits for his recent match-winning knock against Bangladesh, his ability to don the thinking cap is the question of the hour.
While Karthik obviously doesn't have any international experience in terms of captaincy, the Tamil Nadu played led his home side to a Vijay Hazare Trophy triumph in the 2009-10 season and also secured a Duleep Trophy title as the skipper of the India Red team last year.
However, one must note that one of the aforementioned triumphs came eight years back, while both of titles were won in the domestic circuit.
IPL is a different ballgame altogether where the best in the world clash and on paper, Dinesh Karthik is not a big enough name to elicit the desired performances from his foreign counterparts.
The KKR management took a huge risk in the auctions by investing heavily on a small number of players.
The result was the Kolkata outfit ending with the smallest squad out of the eight franchises comprising of 19 players and no balance remaining in the purse.
This very decision can haunt the Knight Riders badly as up to four players may miss out on the tournament.
Hard-hitter Chris Lynn is suffering from a dislocated shoulder whereas powerhouse all-rounder Andre Russell recently faced a hamstring injury setback in the ongoing Pakistan Super League.
Sunil Narine recently had his bowling action reported in the same tournament while Mitchell Johnson is recovering from a gruesome head injury suffered during a gym session.
The Knight Riders will now need to either bring in replacements or wait for these players to reach full fitness levels. Either way, this leaves huge spots in the KKR line-up to fill.
Karthik and Robin Uthappa are the only recognizable batsmen in the squad apart from the U-19 World Cup ace Shubman Gill.
The bowling department also lacks depth now with the likes of Kuldeep Yadav and Mitchell Starc the only big-name players in the squad.
Other known bowlers include R Vinay Kumar and Piyush Chawla. However, much responsibility will lie on the young shoulders of the Indian pacer Kamlesh Nagarkoti whose skills will be tested against the best batsmen in the world for the very first time.
Investing in young players
KKR invested heavily on young Indian players in the auction.
Gill and Nagarkoti will be joined by the likes of Shivam Mavi, Nitish Rana, Apoorv Wankhade and other uncapped players.
While the decision is a commendable one, choosing to take this route without roping in a seasoned veteran to lead the team is a questionable choice.
As explained earlier, Karthik has little on his CV as a captain and he might not be able to bring out the best from the youngsters on offer.
While no team participating in the IPL is a perfect 10 on paper, KKR is the only squad where there are talks about weaknesses and weaknesses only.
Given that KKR still had a respectable squad on paper post the auctions; injuries and possible suspensions have left the 2014 champs with more to ponder about than to remain content with.
With so many uncertainties in order, KKR appears as the likely underperformers of the upcoming IPL season and there's a very high chance that they might end up in the dreaded wooden spoon spot.