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Kolkata Knight Riders break the bank for Cummins, but will it be enough?

Kolkata Knight Riders break the bank for Cummins, but will it be enough?

Pat Cummins celebrates taking an England wicket on August 23, 2019© Reuters
Getting underway on March 29, 2020, the Indian Premier League really started up on December 19, 2019 with the IPL auction.

Taking place in Kolkata, all eyes were on the fast bowlers with six of the eight IPL teams requiring some top-class pace in their attack. Aussie duo Glenn Maxwell and Pat Cummins were expected to go for big bids, with the West Indies' Sheldon Cottrell, England's Chris Woakes and Chris Morris of South Africa also in the mix.

The first set of auctions (batsmen) saw the hosting team, the Kolkata Knight Riders, steal the show by forking out ₹525 for England's short-form captain Eoin Morgan.

At the start of set two (all-rounders), Glenn Maxwell was the subject of a heated bidding war between the Delhi Capitals and the Kings XI Punjab, with Punjab coming out on top with a ₹1075 bid. Chris Woakes then went for his reserve price of ₹150 to the Delhi Capitals.

Pat Cummins was the third to be auctioned in the second set, holding a reserve of ₹200. Once again, the Capitals were seeking some heat, going toe to toe with the Royal Challengers Bangalore.

At ₹1475, the Royal Challengers appeared to have won the bidding, but then Kolkata swept in to keep the bidding going.

Just two bids later, the Knight Riders laid down ₹1550 to land Pat Cummins as the record auction price for an overseas player. The IPL cheque eclipses that of the previous record-holder, England's Ben Stokes, who went for ₹1450 in 2017.

The Knight Riders certainly added some class to their team in the auction, with Morgan, Cummins, Rahul Tripathi, Manimaran Siddharth, and Chris Green coming to Kolkata in March. But will their record signing be enough?

Pat Cummins: One of the best bowlers in the world

When he first joined the IPL in 2014 – also for the Kolkata Knight Riders – Cummins was tipped as one of the most promising bowlers in the world. Over the last six years, he has grown into this potential and has become one of the best fast bowlers in the world.

Pat Cummins is most-prized for his work in test cricket. The Aussie currently stands a long way at the top of the ICC bowling rankings for test cricket, and he just picked up the Test Player of the Year award.

He also proved himself to be a valuable weapon during Australia's run to the semi-finals of the 2020 Cricket World Cup. During the tournament, Cummins took 14 wickets through ten matches, and also scored 51 runs.

The IPL is, of course, a T20 cricket tournament – a format in which Cummins also fares well. Through 25 matches, the Aussie pace bowler has notched 17 wickets with an economy of 6.78.

In the IPL, Cummins has only featured in two tournaments. He played one game for the Knight Riders in the 2014 season, being a part of the IPL-winning squad.

In 2017, Cummins returned to the IPL to play for the Delhi Daredevils, taking 15 wickets in 12 matches. He was due to play in the 2018 IPL but had to pull out due to injury.

In the three years since his 2017 IPL showing, Cummins has gone from strength to strength, refining his skills to earn his way to being the top Test bowler, fourth-best ODI bowler, and 21st best T20 bowler, per the ICC rankings.

Most recently, Pat Cummins claimed the Allan Border Medal after a superb showing in the 2019 Ashes series, finishing as the top wicket-taker with 29 from the five matches.

Will Cummins be enough to bring Kolkata glory?

The Kolkata Knight Riders have been up with the best teams since winning the tournament in 2012. Now with two IPL victories and two third-place finishes in 2017 and 2018, Kolkata have gone all in to land two of the best players at auction to get a third victory.

Pat Cummins and Eoin Morgan coming to Kolkata has had a huge impact on the team's chances of winning the IPL. While the Chennai Super Kings, Mumbai Indians, and Sunrisers Hyderabad are the favourites, Asiabet expects the Kolkata Knight Riders to reach the playoffs, sitting at longer odds to the former three to win it all.

There's certainly a lot going for the Knight Riders, with Morgan and Cummins joining the likes of Andre Russell, Dinesh Karthik, Sunil Narine, Tom Banton and the intriguing Chris Green.

Kolkata look to have top-class weapons and players with plenty of potential within the team ranks, and so they could be one of the dark horses to go all the way in 2020.

That said, even with the record-signing Pat Cummins in the attack, it will still be an uphill battle for the Knight Riders to compete with the likes of Mumbai and Chennai.

As always, the IPL will prove to be one of the most exciting cricket tournaments of the year, especially as the Kolkata Knight Riders appear to have tooled up with the aim of taking on the league's elite and win the tournament.

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