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Knight Riders take aim for Pietersen

The disappointing finish in the first edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL), it seems, has given a big jolt to the Kolkata Knight Riders management.

They now seem to be on a wooing spree to build the best possible side for the next edition.

And one won’t be surprised if Shah Rukh Khan-owned KKR pips Mukesh Ambani’s Mumbai Indians in the fight to get hold of two top English players — Kevin Pietersen and Andrew Flintoff.

If sources in the KKR are to be believed, they have sounded out both for the next season and the players too look keen to play for the Kolkata side, though KKR CEO Joy Bhattacharya says nothing has been finalised yet.

Kolkata captain Sourav Ganguly, who is currently in London for his father’s treatment, is believed to have spoken to both Pietersen and Flintoff. The buying price, one learns, is something around $1.5 million for each player.

“A team can only express its willingness to include a player, or a player can reciprocate, but for finalization of matters, we need to have the IPL guidelines first and then necessary permission from the governing body. Then only we can proceed,” Bhattacharya told DNA on Friday, adding that they are still in the dark about the salary cap which will be determined by the IPL governing body.

But sources claim both Pietersen and Flintoff have shown interest in the KKR offer and are eagerly waiting for the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) to announce its decision on allowing or not allowing its players to take part in the cash-rich Twenty20 league. The ECB has already come under fire in the past for not allowing its centrally contracted players to participate in the IPL.

It’s also believed that KKR is banking on a few of its overseas players, like David Hussey and Chris Gayle, to get some new faces from their countries.

“Since they have played one season with us, they will be in a better position to explain and convince players from their countries to play for KKR,” the source said.

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