The whole of India is buzzing with excitement as the sixteenth edition of the TATA Indian Premier League (IPL) is just ten days away. Two-time champions Kolkata Knight Riders will begin the quest for their third TATA IPL title with an away clash against Punjab Kings in Mohali on April 1.
Needless to say, the TATA IPL fever has already gripped the denizens of Kolkata as members of their beloved Purple & Gold brigade have begun arriving in the City of Joy. Under the stewardship of their new Head Coach ChandrakantPandit, for whom winning laurels is a way of life, the Knights have started training in full swing from Monday, March 20.
Which of the Knights have already arrived in Kolkata? Here are some snippets from the KKR camp:
1. Guru Pravesh
New KKR Head Coach Chandrakant Pandit was the first member of the Purple & Gold Brigade to arrive in Kolkata. He checked in at the team hotel on Saturday (March 18) evening. All the KKR support staff members have reached the city and have been overseeing the team’s training sessions.
The KKR support staff this year comprises the usual members – Assisatant Coaches AbhishekNayar and James Foster, Bowling Coach Bharat Arun, Assistant Bowling Coach Omkar Salvi, Performance Analyst AR Srikkanth, Team Manager Wayne Bentley, Strength & Conditioning Coach Chris Donaldson, besides Fielding Coach Ryan ten Doeschate, who himself is a former Knight.
2. Anukul Roy – the first Knight to arrive
Jharkhand’s Anukul Roy was the first player to join the KKR base camp in Kolkata for TATA IPL 16. The spin-bowling all-rounder touched down in the City of Joy on Sunday (March 19) at 5.15 PM. The joint-highest wicket-taker in India’s triumphant ICC U-19 World Cup campaign in 2019, Roy, who played a couple of games last season, will be looking to cement his place in the Knights’ playing XI with his three-dimensional skills.
3. Rinku-Rana: The Dostana continues
They arrived - together and in style! No prizes for guessing which pair we are talking about. Bosom friends NitishRana and Rinku Singh will have major roles to play in the impending TATA IPL season. The southpaws will have to shoulder more responsibility and propel the Knights’ batting with their pyrotechnics in ShreyasIyer’s absence. While Rana has been one of the mainstays in the Knights’ batting order for quite some time, Rinku exhibited his big-hitting prowess and match-winning ability last season, smashing 174 runs in seven matches at an average of 34.80 and a strike-rate of 148.72.
4. DRE-RUSS, VENKY AND VARUN ARE BACK TOO!
When once asked about the secret to his monstrous exploits in the TATA IPL, Andre Russell replied that the Eden crowd always motivates him to give his best. Dre-Russ is back, Kolkata! Back to entertain you with his batting blitzkrieg and play a crucial part in his team’s charge for their third TATA IPL title. He reached Kolkata on Sunday at 2.05 PM.
The same day, star spinner Varun Chakravarthy descended in the city at 10.50 PM, while all-rounder VenkateshIyer checked out of the CCU at 11.15 PM.
5.Mandy is a Knight again!
Turn back the clock and try remembering a Punjab dasher in the Purple & Gold armor. Mandeep Singh, who made his TATA IPL debut for KKR in 2010, has reunited with the Knights after thirteen long years! The right-handed batter, who has made a name for himself in T20s with several impactful innings, landed in Kolkata on Sunday at 10.55 PM.
The 31-year-old had a decent Syed Mushtaq Ali T20 tournament last year, scoring 112 runs in 10 matches at an average of 37.33 and a strike-rate of 149.33. The Punjab captain, who led his side to the semi-finals of SMAT 2022, would be looking to replicate the finisher’s role and showcase his batting flexibility in his second stint with the Knights.
6. THE OTHERS
New Knights Kulwant Khejroliya, Harshit Rana and Suyash Sharma landed in Kolkata on Sunday night (March 19), while Narayan Jagadeesan has been the latest to join the KKR camp after he arrived in the city on Monday (March 20) at 4.40 PM. Vaibhav Arora, who’s back in the KKR camp after spending a season with Punjab Kings, reached Kolkata on Sunday (March 19) at 10.55 PM.