Kolkata Knight Riders have brought in veteran Australian batsman Aaron Finch as a replacement for Alex Hales. The 35-year-old Finch, who guided Australia to T20 World Cup glory last year, was unsold at the original auction, but Hales’ decision to withdrawal from the tournament citing bubble fatigue has given the Victorian another chance, with KKR snapping him up for his base price of 1.5 crore INR.
Kolkata also become Finch’s 9th IPL franchise- he’s a well-travelled player on the circuit. Finch started his tournament career with Rajasthan Royals and played for Delhi before joining the now defunct Pune Warriors franchise. Moves to SRH, Mumbai Indians, Gujarat Lions and Kings XI Punjab followed (in that order) before he played for RCB in 2020. The KKR switch means that Finch has effectively played for all the original IPL franchises with the exception of the Chennai Super Kings. Interestingly enough, the opening game of the 2022 IPL will be played between KKR and CSK at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai.
As defending champions, it comes as no surprise that CSK are the favourites for this game in the Parimatch IPL betting. The franchise mostly stuck to buying back those players who had done well for them in their run to the title last season, and also added some astute buys like Black Caps batsman Devon Conway and promising India U19 star Rajvardhan Hangargekar.
That being said, Hales’ absence will certainly hurt KKR’s planning- the Englishman scores at a fair clip, and takes lesser time to get going than Finch. An explosive batsman at the top of the order to partner Ajinkya Rahane is what KKR would’ve ideally wanted- Finch doesn’t quite fit that bill.
Finch can certainly play the Shubman Gill role (keep one end going at a SR of 110-120) but KKR already have another similar batsman in Rahane to perform that job, and with Rahul Tripathi also leaving the franchise, the team look a little short on explosive firepower at the top. That puts a lot of pressure on newly appointed captain Shreyas Iyer, although his recent form for India suggests that the batsman is well up to the challenge. Some KKR fans were thinking their side would’ve been better off picking Finch’s Australian compatriot Chris Lynn or even Paul Stirling, but Finch’s leadership experience probably tipped the scales in his favour.
KKR have a tough draw too– they’ll have to play Mumbai, Delhi, Lucknow, Rajasthan and Hyderabad twice. Newbies Lucknow did quite well in the auction and have the makings of a solid squad, as do Hyderabad after last season’s failure. Rajasthan have Sri Lankan legends Lasith Malinga and Kumar Sangakkara working together and with the likes of Shimron Hetmyer, Rassie van der Dussen, Jos Buttler and Ravi Ashwin playing for them, will be no pushovers.