Wasim Akram, the legendary Pakistani pacer and the bowling consultant of King Khan’s IPL franchise the Kolkata Knight Riders, has tipped KKR and Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) as one of the top four teams this season, and has predicted them to make it to the IPL qualifiers.
Speaking to media reporters on Wednesday, the 45-year-old former Pakistani skipper said that it is difficult to predict the top four teams. However, he did opine that based upon the bench strength of all nine teams contesting in this year’s league, Bangalore and Kolkata seem to be making the qualifiers and eliminators along with defending champions Chennai and CLT20 champions, the Mumbai Indians.
“It is difficult to predict which teams will end up as top four. The IPL has always thrown surprises and it has made or marred reputations,” said the King of swing, when asked to name his favourite teams in the IPL5.
“But looking at the team combinations and back-up staff strength, Chennai, Kolkata, Bangalore and Mumbai should go all the way till the qualifiers and eliminators,” he added further.
The 45-year-old also said that the fitness of players and the bench strength of teams will be the key during the exhausting 54-day long tournament, which will see nine teams contesting in 74 matches.
Akram said that the KKR have a balanced squad, which will be their strength in this year’s IPL. The Gautam Gambhir-led franchise had finished fourth last season and were also impressive in the 2011 Champions League T20 tournament.
Wasim Akram tipped New Zealand vice captain, Brendan McCullum as the player to watch out for in the latest edition of the tournament. Akram hopes that the 30-year-old batsman from Otago will give Shah Rukh Khan’s IPL franchise a blistering start when the KKR play the Delhi Daredevils in the tournament opener at the Eden Garden on Thursday night.
“Personally, I will like Brendon McCullum to fire for KKR,” said the KKR bowling consultant. “I am sure the pugnacious Kiwi will deliver better under Gautam Gambhir. There will be no personality clashes and both Gambhir and McCullum are professional enough to know what’s best for Kolkata,” he added further.