When the Indian Premier League (IPL) started in 2008, Kolkata Knight Riders were considered one of the most high-profile sides. Eventually, he was captained by current BCCI chief and former India captain Sourav Ganguly and owned by Bollywood superstars Shah Rukh Khan and Juhi Chawla.
Somehow, KKR could not live up to its billing in the initial years. Despite Brendon McCullum scoring 158 in the first IPL match, Kolkata failed to get out of the league stage in the first edition. The next two seasons had the same story, as the players could not rise to the occasion.
KKR’s fortunes changed well when Gautam Gambhir took over as their leader. Under Gambhir’s inspired captaincy, Kolkata had emerged victorious in 2012 and again in 2014 in the IPL. Since then, they have grown bored again.
Here is a look at the three youths who can reactivate the Kolkata campaign.
England’s Tom Banton is currently one of the most exciting talents on the T20 scene. He has played some explosive innings in English domestic cricket as well as T20 leagues in different countries. His free-spirited batting style has won many fans over him. Banton proved his qualification for the Brisbane Heat in the Big Bash League with 223 runs in seven matches at a stunning strike rate of 176.98 with three fifties.
Last year, he scored 100 out of 52 for Somerset against Kent in the Vitality Blast. He even impressed in the Abu Dhabi T10 League with two half-centuries, including a stunning 80-run knock of 28 for the Kalandars against the Karnataka Tuskers. Although he failed to make his mark in the Pakistan Super League (PSL), KKR still has high hopes from him.
Although Shubman Gill has only played two ODIs, he is already seen as one. The 20-year-old has been up for test selection for a few years now. Gill was the man of the tournament as India won the U19 World Cup under Prithvi Shaw in 2018. The youngster scored 372 runs in five matches at an average of 124 with three fifties and a strike of 112.38.
On recent India A tour to New Zealand, Gill was again exceptional in two Tests scoring 423 runs at an incredible average of 211.50 and with an unbeaten 204 best. Gill’s amazing consistency and his ability to score runs with a fluent speed made him a solid batsman in formats. In the IPL, he has scored 499 runs in 27 matches at a strike rate of 132.4. Gill would like to build on it.
Kamlesh Nagerkoti was one of the many stars of India’s victorious U19 World Cup campaign in 2018, which included captain Prithvi Shaw, Shubhaman Gill, and Manjot Kalra. He took nine wickets in six matches at an average of 16.33 and a strike rate of 28.1. Pacer’s economy rate of 3.48 was also ruled out in the tournament. Prior to his feats at the U19 World Cup, Nagarkoti claimed the first hat-trick for Rajasthan in List A cricket, in the 2017 Vijay Hazare Trophy match against Gujarat.
He was even bought by KKR for Rs 3.2 crore for the 2018 IPL. Unfortunately, Nagerkoti missed the entire season due to injury, and history also repeated itself in the next edition. When fit, Nagarkoti can bowl at speeds in excess of 140 kilometers per hour, as he demonstrated in the U19 World Cup. This is something that KKR wants from the 20-year-old as he wants his career back on track.