A look at the top 11 players expected to play most matches and make a difference to Kolkata Knight Rider's fortunes in IPL 5. Australia pacer James Pattinson, though not included in the list, is also a player Kolkata can bank on. However, due to his inclusion in Australia's Test squad for the series against the West Indies he will be unavailable for half the season - the only reason why he did not make it to our top 11.
Gautam Gambhir: His form has been up and down but he can be expected to fire on the Indian pitches. Proving his worth as a captain after being overlooked for the vice-captaincy of the Indian team will be an added motivation for Gambhir.
Jacques Kallis: The South African is an asset to any team. A all-rounder in the true sense, his skills make him an invaluable player and Kallis is hardly ever out of form for a long period. He is the fourth highest run-getter in the IPL.
Yusuf Pathan: There is a reason why he was one of the most sought after players in the auction before the fourth season. Kolkata paid big money for him and although he didn't exactly set the stage on fire last season, he is always a threat, a bomb waiting to explode.
Brett Lee: He made a comeback into the Australian ODI team after fighting off injuries. He is still the spearhead of a lethal Aussie pace attack and that bodes well for KKR. Having participated in the CB tri-series and the ODIs against the West Indies, Lee also has enough match practice under his belt.
Brendon McCullum: KKR will be thaking their stars that they signed New Zealand keeper and former Kochi player in the February auction. With Brad Haddin, who opted out of Australia's tour of West Indies due to personal problems, unlikely to play, McCullum will not only solve their behind the stumps problems but also bolster their batting with his attacking style of play.
Shakib Al Hasan: The all-rounder proved why he is one of Bangladesh's best talents. The man of the series in the Asia Cup bailed out his team in almost every game and will be expected to do a similar job for KKR. His wily spin bowling on Indian pitches will be an added bonus.
Manoj Tiwary: He was part of India's squad for the CB series and the Asia Cup but failed to get a single game. His holiday tours also ensured that he was unable to feature for his state side - Bengal. But he has warmed the bench enough and should be raring to go. Tiwary will be a key part of the KKR side, which lacks quality in terms of Indian talent. He would also be aware that a good showing in the IPL could push him from being a player in the Indian squad to the playing XI.
Rajat Bhatia: His slow medium paced deliveries often deceive batsmen who plenty of times lose patience by the time the ball actually reaches them. And his more than handy batting down the order also helps. Bhatia had a decent season last year and will be hoping to do one notch better this time.
Laxmi Ratan Shukla: For long he has been one of the mainstays of Bengal's batting. However, he has failed to go one step further and his inconsistency hasn't helped. But more recently, he was the architect of Bengal's maiden triumph in the Vijay Hazare Trophy, shining with the bat and ball. He will hope to carry that forward to IPL and make a bigger impact this season.
Sunil Narine: He was the surprise pick who commanded a hefty price in the February auction. And the 23-year-old spinner troubled the Aussie batters in the ODI series in the West Indies showing why the IPL franchises were ready to shell out big money for him. And, given that he is not contracted to the West Indies board he is likely to play the entire T20 tournament despite the Caribbean side having the Australia Test series scheduled during the first part of the IPL season.
Iqbal Abdullah: This young spinner many not have picked as many wickets as his senior team-mate Laxmipathy Balaji but when it comes to economy rate he has a knack of keeping it tight. Abdullah is also capable of providing his team the crucial breakthroughs.
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