IPL 2019: KKR should continue to invest in their youngsters
In IPL 2018, under the captaincy of the unassuming Dinesh Karthik, Kolkata Knight Riders had a decent season. Even though they failed to reach the finals, they finished a creditable 3rd. While the players played out of their skins to make it to the playoffs, the management too deserves a lot of credit as they showed a lot of faith in the capability of its youngsters.
Unlike most other IPL teams, KKR not only gave chances to many young players but also persisted with them despite a few failures. Eventually, most of them performed rather well and became a fulcrum of the KKR set up.
The 19-year-old Shubman Gill played a major part in KKR’s performance in 2018. He played in 13 matches and scored 203 runs at a creditable average of almost 34. Shubman idolizes Virat Kohli and one could see glimpses of Kohli in his batting style and temperament. He needs to be persisted with as it seems it is only a matter of time before he is knocking on the doors of the national side.
Rinku Singh, the young batsman from Uttar Pradesh, despite not being able to perform according to potential, still got 4 matches to prove his credential, which he unfortunately could not benefit from. But he has the potential for bigger things and should be kept in the larger KKR squad.
KKR had the foresight to rope in both Kamlesh Nagarkoti and Shivam Mavi, the two exciting pace spearheads of India Under-19 team’s successful World Cup campaign earlier this year. Though Nagarkoti, unfortunately, got injured, Mavi became a major part of the KKR team.
It was heartening to see a 19-year-old Mavi unencumbered by the responsibility thrust on him at such a young age. He may have been a bit erratic, but he has the pace and aggression required to be a great bowler in future. There is a good reason why Brett Lee called him 'the future of Indian bowling'.
The young Karnataka pace bowler Prasidh Krishna, who was drafted into the side for the injured Nagarkoti, was probably the find of the season. He was entrusted with bowling for KKR at crucial times. Despite an up and down season, he showed enough promise to be in the reckoning for the Indian national set up, especially in the shorter format of the game. He can be an asset for KKR in IPL 2019.
Even after the end of the 2018 IPL season, KKR continued to groom its larger pool of talented young players through KKR Academy, under the able mentorship of the Mumbai all-rounder Abhishek Nayar.
When most other IPL teams forget their youngsters after the IPL is over, it was wonderful to see KKR not only scouting for talent for its IPL franchise but also helping them grow through its year-round program in a structured manner.
In 2019 season, it is expected that KKR will continue to invest in its youngsters and will hopefully recruit some more around whom it can build its 2019 campaign along with its more celebrated superstars such as Andre Russel, Sunil Narine, Mitchel Starc, Chris Lynn, Dinesh Karthik and Robin Uthappa.