Indian Premier League is the largest cricketing festival in India and as we move into the 16th edition of the marquee league, the auction which is to be held in the third week of December is generating a lot of interest. All franchises are required to submit the names of their retained players before November 15th, so the trading window becomes a crucial aspect in the composition of the final team and can have a big impact on how a particular team goes about its business in the 2023 IPL season.
Kolkata Knight Riders, the two-time IPL champions had a forgetful 2022 IPL season as they finished seventh on the points table with six wins in 14 games. They were the runners-up in the 2021 season and came into the following season with high hopes with a new young and exuberant skipper, Shreyas Iyer but the team failed to click as a unit. They will now be going into the 2023 season with an Indian coach, Chandrakant Pandit, and would be looking to iron out the flaws in the trading window and in the auction that precedes the action on the field.
5 players that KKR might trade ahead of the IPL 2023
Aaron Finch, the man who led Australia to their maiden T20 World Cup title was one of the most destructive white-ball batters at his peak. He was drafted into the Kolkata team as a replacement for Alex Hales after the latter opted out of the 2022 season. However, Finch failed to make an impact with the bat and managed to score only 86 runs in 5 matches.
The right-handed opening batter has also struggled at the international level in recent times which has forced him to retire from ODIs. He has also not exactly set the IPL on fire even when he was at his peak and has overall scored 2091 runs in the IPL in 92 matches at an average of 25.19 and strike rate of 128.20. With age not on his side and Hales expected to be back for the 2023 season, It looks highly unlikely that Knight Riders will continue to persist with Aaron Finch.
Ajinkya Rahane is another big name who might be traded by Kolkata ahead of the 2023 season of IPL. One of the biggest problems for Kolkata in the 2022 season was the lack of runs scored by their openers and Rahane who opened in 7 games for them, had a dismal time with the bat.
Rahane was included in the squad for his experience and ability to provide stability from the top of the order but he could muster only 133 runs at an average of 19 and a strike rate of just 103.91. Moreover, Rahane’s poor form with the bat has been a taking point for a long time now. He has lost his place in the Test squad and has also not been able to make any big impact with the bat for Mumbai in the Mushtaq Ali Trophy 2022.
So, with both recent form and record in the last season going against Rahane, we might see Kolkata trying to trade him and opt for a more aggressive and young top-order Indian batter to bolster their batting line-up.
The current Australian Test and ODI skipper, Pat Cummins would easily walk into the World XI of many experts if they are to choose a team for a Test match. However, despite being rated very highly, Pat Cummins has not been able to deliver to his standards in T20 cricket. KKR bought him for 7.25 crore in the mega auction for the 2022 season but the returns from the tall fast bowler were not as expected. He played 5 matches and took seven wickets. However, it was his high economy rate of 10.69 which would be a big concern.
Cummins is a top-class Test bowler who can hit good lengths consistently but those same lengths have become the reason for his poor returns in T20 cricket. His inability to deliver yorkers or use his variations as consistently and as effectively as some of his counterparts and colleagues would make Knight Riders think about trading him. If they do that, it would also release a good chunk of money and they can probably obtain some good T20 specialists in his place.
Sheldon Jackson is an experienced domestic performer who has scored loads of runs for Saurashtra over the years. He was drafted by KKR ahead of the 2022 season as a wicketkeeper batter in a hope that he would use his experience in the middle order to bail the team out in moments of crisis. However, Sheldon failed to deliver on the promise when he got an opportunity in crunch situations for his team.
He played 5 games in the 2022 season and scored 23 runs with an average of 5.75 and a strike rate of just 88.46. Also, with age not on his side, Kolkata might try to look at some young wicketkeeper batters who can be more dynamic with the bat too. Sheldon Jackson’s performance in the 2022 Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy was also not up to the mark where apart from one knock of 64 runs against Kerala, the veteran batter failed to get going.
Baba Indrajith has been a prolific run-scorer for Tamil Nadu across formats for quite a few years now. However, it took a long time for the right-handed batter to break into an IPL team. He finally got an opportunity for Kolkata in 2022 but in the limited opportunities he got, Baba Indrajith failed to impress. He could score only 21 runs in the three matches he played.
Now, with a new coach coming in and given the struggles of Kolkata’s batting line-up last season, Baba might face the axe and can be traded ahead of this season. Also, the fact that Baba Indrajith is more of an accumulator and not a power-hitter can go against him as Kolkata might look at other talented options available in the Indian cricket circuit at the moment.
These are the five players Kolkata might trade ahead of the 2023 IPL season and we might see them targeting top-order batters and wicketkeeper batters along with death bowlers to fine-tune their squad.
3 Players that KKR can Target for the 2023 IPL Season
The young batter is an explosive top-order batter who has scored plenty of runs for his domestic side Punjab in recent times. He is a wicketkeeper too and would fit quite well into the KKR squad are looking for a top-order batter as well as a wicketkeeper.
This young and exuberant top-order wicketkeeper batter also can destroy any bowling attack when he is in full flow. In the 2020-21 Mushtaq Ali season, Azharuddeen became the first T20 centurion from Kerala as he hammered a brilliant 37-ball ton against Mumbai. So, expect Kolkata to target him for the IPL 2023 season.
David Wiese is a genuine seam-bowling all-rounder who can change the game with the bat and ball on his day. He has the experience of playing franchise cricket all around the world and can become that utility player for Kolkata who can deliver in crunch situations with his all-around skills.
Thus, this trading window and the upcoming auction in December 2022 are a great opportunity for KKR to re-energize their spirits by chalking out a new blueprint for the 2023 IPL season. A clever use of the trading window by filling the gaps in their batting department and death bowling can usher in a new successful era in KKR history under the coach-captain duo of Chandrakant Pandit and Shreyas Iyer.