Head coach Brendon McCullum confirmed wicketkeeper-batsman Dinesh Karthik has retained the Kolkata Knight Riders captaincy, despite the arrival of England World Cup-winning captain Eoin Morgan.
Morgan was bought by the Kolkata franchise for INR 5.25 crores at Thursday's Indian Premier League player auction. Australian fast bowler Pat Cummins was also among the Knight Riders' purchases for the biggest price of the day – INR 15.50 crores.
“Dinesh is definitely our captain,” said McCullum, who succeeded former Knight Riders coach Jacques Kallis earlier this year. “We wanted to get as much experienced leadership as possible and Eoin is one of the very best leaders going around currently in our game.
“A perfect lieutenant for Dinesh and Morgan will also fill the gap at number four in the order. He is in the form of his life. He is going to be a fine asset coming back to KKR.”
The recruitment of Morgan and Cummins will certainly boost the Knight Riders' push for a third IPL title. They won the tournament in 2012 and 2014 – and are among the early favourites to win the 2020 final. Bet365 have KKR at 4/1 in their markets for an outright win.
The left-handed Morgan represented KKR in 2011, 2012 and 2013 before moving to the Kings XI Punjab and later the Sunrisers Hyderabad. His record for Kolkata isn't great, with just 444 runs scored in 26 matches.
He currently occupies 11th position in the International Cricket Council's rankings for T20I batsman, flanked by Indian Virat Kohli and New Zealander Martin Guptill in 10th and 12th position, respectively.
Cummins, meanwhile, looked forward to partnering West Indian duo Andre Russell and Sunil Narine at KKR. Russell is particularly important to the odds of KKR winning the IPL in 2020. He sits among thei top 10 run-scorers and top 10 wicket-takers in the history of KKR. Narine is the franchise's highest wicket-taker overall.
Top 10 Wicket-takers for the Kolkata Knight Riders
- Sunil Narine (West Indies)
- Piyush Chawla
- Andre Russell (West Indies)
- Umesh Yadav
- Shakib Al Hasan (Bangladesh)
- Jacques Kallis (South Africa)
- Kuldeep Yadav
- Lakshmipathy Balaji
- Morne Morkel (South Africa)
- Rajat Bhatia
“I am absolutely pumped to be back at KKR. It is where I played my first couple of years of IPL cricket. I can't wait to work with McCullum, Morgan, Andre and Sunil,” enthused Cummins via Twitter.
Kolkata finished in 5th position in IPL 2019, but are already looking well resourced enough to end significantly higher than in IPL 2020. They will also have England batsman Tom Banton for IPL 2020.