Consistency is the name of the game as far as Kolkata Knight Riders are concerned. No team has won more IPL titles than them and they have built that around the same successful model that CSK employed in the first few seasons of the IPL and brought them so much glory.
At least for the start of the IPL 2017 campaign, KKR can't stick to their formula. Andre Russell has a one-year ban he is currently serving, Umesh Yadav has been advised rest and Shakib Al Hasan is currently playing in the T20I series against Sri Lanka.
For the opener against Gujarat Lions, KKR will have to make a few changes to compensate for the players that aren't available. Here's their possible XI that could take to the field for the clash against Suresh Raina's side.
Gautam Gambhir (Captain)
If there is one player who exemplifies the virtues that KKR are trying to extol it is their captain, Gautam Gambhir. Ever since he moved from Delhi Daredevils to the Kolkata Knight Riders, he has overseen the franchise's most successful period in the IPL, leading them to two IPL titles in the process.
The dependable opener has a lot of things going for him. Although he might not be the dashing opener that gets sides off to a fast start from which they can go for a huge total, his style is one that makes perfect sense for a power-packed KKR middle-order.
As he ensures that there isn't too many wickets lost, KKR get off to a steady start from which their middle-order takes over to get them to a comfortable score.
Robin Uthappa (Wicketkeeper)
His partner-in-crime is someone who has mastered the art of scoring runs at the top of the innings in T20s. Although he hasn't played too many times for India in the shortest format of the game that is due to misfortune rather than his form in the IPL, which has been incredibly consistent since he moved to KKR.
Ahead of IPL 2017, however, there are a few question marks surrounding him. Not least his fitness, which kept him out of a large chunk of the domestic season for Karnataka, who suffered a blip as a result. With the Champions Trophy not too far away, he will be hoping for a strong season that could propel him back into the national side.
Manish Pandey may be in and out of the Indian limited-overs set-up, but as far as the KKR are concerned, he is one of the batting mainstays. Ever since he became the first Indian to score a century in the IPL the spotlight has always been on the stylish right-hander to replicate his initial exploits.
One look at his numbers for India might suggest that he hasn't managed to do so but his form in the IPL is a completely different animal. Capable of both marshaling an innings or going berserk depending on what the situation needs him to do, he is the ideal No.3 but he might have to be slightly more flexible this season with Lynn likely to play a major role in their campaign.
With the Champions Trophy in June, he will look to shine in order to secure his place in the Indian side that will fly to England.
After his exploits in the BBL, where he simply destroys bowling attacks for fun, there have been plenty of questions as to why he hasn't played as much as he should have for KKR. When he did, he has delivered. Even if it wasn't with the bat, he has pulled off a couple of stunning catches in the field.
Ahead of IPL 2017, though, his incredible form, coupled with the unavailability of key players means that he is finally likely to get a consistent run in the side. As he showed from his time with Brisbane Heat, no ground is big enough, if he hits the ball cleanly. With the newly re-laid track at the Eden Gardens, which is expected to offer plenty of bounce for the seamers, he will fit right in, like a duck to water and could be their key player in the tenth edition of the tournament.
In a team that is stocked with international stars and veteran Indian performers who have won major tournaments, Suryakumar Yadav almost sneaks under the radar. His numbers don't make for great reading when compared to the top-order and he doesn't contribute with the ball as well. Yet, he is an integral part of this KKR side because of the flexibility that he provides.
An immensely gifted batsman who should be batting a lot higher than what he usually does for KKR, Suryakumar Yadav is the quintessential modern Indian batsman who is adept at switching gears and formats with ease. Capable of innovative strokes that make him an invaluable asset at the death while also having a repertoire of conventional strokes that give him plenty of run-scoring opportunities if he comes in early as well.
Even when Yusuf Pathan made the switch from Rajasthan Royals, few would have expected the all-rounder to be as important to Kolkata Knight Riders as he has proved to be. He was always thought of as a big-hitter and someone who wasn't always consistent. While there was no question about his talent or his ability to take the game away in an instant, many doubted if he would ever be consistent enough to be an asset rather than a liability.
But then along came KKR and Yusuf Pathan was suddenly a transformed player. While he continued to remain true to his big-hitting instincts, he was far more consistent than anyone could have predicted.
He reined in when the situation called for and won numerous matches for his side. And that is why he is still an integral part of Gambhir's plans ahead of IPL 2017 even if he is 34.
With Andre Russell out of the picture, KKR knew that they had big shoes to fill. Gambhir admitted it himself ahead of the tournament when he said: " "Either we can see Russell's absence as a challenge or look at it as an opportunity in bold letters. I as an individual and KKR as a group are looking it as an opportunity."
One of those players who will look to make the most of that opportunity is England all-rounder Chris Woakes. One of KKR's big signings during the auction, the Englishman provides Gambhir with the option of playing a bowler or batsman light, due to his all-round abilities. While he is in many ways, more of a bowling all-rounder, he has shown that he can hit the bowlers to all corners of the ground if the need arises.
While his batting is likely to be a bonus, his bowling is what KKR will be counting on. Capable of swinging the new ball and nailing his yorkers at the death, he is the ideal replacement for Russell, the bowler as he provides them with flexibility.
Impressive performances for KKR under the able guidance of Brad Hogg and in the domestic circuit, helped Kuldeep Yadav earn his maiden India cap during the final Test of the series against Australia in Dharamsala. He finished it with the best figures by a chinaman on his debut Test innings and will be hoping to take that form into the IPL.
With Brad Hogg no longer with the side, Kuldeep will have to show more maturity and showcase more consistency as he is likely to be a regular starter in IPL 2017. With the Eden Gardens track likely to assist the pacers, the youngster's variety could prove to be the difference and provide Gambhir with a mystery option.
Sunil Narine may not be the bowler he was before his re-modelled action but he certainly has the support of his captain, Gautam Gambhir. Ahead of IPL 2017, there were questions as to whether the West Indian spinner will be a regular feature in the KKR side, especially given the fact that he hasn't been as good recently.
But Gambhir was quick to dismiss those comments, as he said: "You can't expect a golfer, who has changed his swing to be the same force from day one on the greens. Give Sunil some time and some space and he will show you his wares again".
Given the KKR captain's statements, barring injury, Narine is a certain starter in the KKR line-up and the spinner will be hoping to repay the faith that has been shown in him by the skipper and management with plenty of wickets.
The void left by Morne Morkel is one that Trent Boult will be looking to fill. Even though Morkel was an integral part of the KKR set-up during their title-winning campaign, they decided to release the South African fast bowler who has had fitness concerns hanging over his head.
The New Zealand fast bowler hasn't been completely fit in the build-up to the tournament either. But the left-arm pacer is expected to be fit and he will need to get off to a great start if he is to maintain his place in the side. For the return of the likes of Shakib Al Hasan and Umesh Yadav might force a rethink from the KKR management.
But for the start at least, it looks like the Kiwi pacer will get the chance to prove himself unlike last year at SRH, where he didn't get too many chances in a side that already had three left-arm pacers in Barinder Sran, Ashish Nehra, and Bhuvneshwar Kumar.
With Umesh Yadav currently recuperating from a long home season, the onus of being the Indian fast bowler will fall on Ankit Rajpoot's shoulders. He has been in brilliant form during the domestic season and will come into the tournament high on confidence, hoping to impress and be a regular fixture in the KKR side.
The 23-year-old fast bowler will likely cede the new ball to the experienced duo of Chris Woakes and Trent Boult but he has proven that he doesn't need the new ball to work his magic. In fact, much of his good work for Uttar Pradesh came during the middle and the death overs.