With a fairly new-look side under the leadership of Dinesh Karthik for this year's Indian Premier League (IPL), Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) will be determined to add more silverware to their cabinet. Just like previous editions, two-time champions KKR will kick off their IPL 2018 campaign as one of the favourites. Gautam Gambhir, who will be playing for Delhi Daredevils this season, had led KKR to title victories twice in his seven-year stint with the purple camp -- 2012 and 2014. Karthik will have a tough job and will be determined to keep KKR's domination intact like their slogan, 'Korbo Lorbo Jeetbo Rey'.
KKR didn't have a great outing in the first three editions of the tournament. The team couldn't qualify for the play-offs in all the three editions (2008, 2009 and 2010). Their fortunes took a turn when the Kolkata outfit signed up Gambhir in 2011 for a whopping 2.4 million dollars in the players' auction. Leading the side in the IPL 4, Gambhir scored 378 runs in 15 matches at an average of 34.76 and helped KKR reach the play-offs for the first time, where they lost to Mumbai Indians by 4 wickets in the Eliminator.
Gambhir, in his second stint as skipper in 2012, led KKR to their maiden title win. KKR defeated the MS Dhoni-led Chennai Super Kings by 5 wickets in the final to lift the trophy.
The year 2013 wasn't impressive for the-then defending champions as they finished seventh in the sixth edition of the cash-rich league.
The 2014 saw KKR attaining glory once again when the Gambhir and his men defeated George Bailey-led Kings XI Punjab by three wickets in the final in Bengaluru.
With seven wins and six defeats, KKR finished fifth in the 2015 edition.
KKR managed to reach the play-offs in both 2016 and 2017 editions. They lost to Sunrisers Hyderabad by 22 runs in Eliminator in 2016 and suffered a six-wicket defeat at the hands of Mumbai Indians in Qualifier 2 in 2017.
Chances this year:
KKR decided to let go their former captain Gambhir who was sold to Delhi Daredevils for Rs 2.8 crore in the auctions earlier this year. Filling in the big shoes of Gambhir will not be easy for the new skipper Karthik. The 32-year-old must be aware of the expectations the team management and fans have from him.
The Kolkata franchise has focused majorly on young players in the IPL 2018. India's Under-19 World Cup winning players Kamlesh Nagarkoti, who hogged the limelight for his fiery pace, Shubhman Gill and Shivam Mavi will try to carry on their good show in their maiden IPL appearance.
Captain Karthik is expected to get a huge support from spinners too. Retained bowler Sunil Narine is a vital cog in KKR's team and expected to play a key role, while Other spinners Piyush Chawla and Kuldeep Yadav will assist him from the other end.
KKR's bowling attack will be led by Australia legend Mitchell Johnson, who will be accompanied by Tom Curran, young Nagarkoti, Andre Russell and Vinay Kumar.
KKR will begin their campaign against Royal Challengers Bangalore at Eden Gardens on April 8.
Squad: Dinesh Karthik (capt), Sunil Narine, Tom Curran, Andre Russell, Chris Lynn, Robin Uthappa, Kuldeep Yadav, Piyush Chawla, Nitish Rana, Kamlesh Nagarkoti, Shivam Mavi, Mitchell Johnson, Shubman Gill, Vinay Kumar, Rinku Singh, Cameron Delport, Javon Searless, Apoorv Wankhade, Ishank Jaggi.