Shah Rukh Khan’s team is perhaps the most mercurial unit in IPL due to their wildly fluctuating shows across the last six IPLs. Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) started coming into their own from the 2011 edition when they reached the qualifier stage and then finally in 2012 they were crowned as champions; however, they fared quite miserably as defending champions in the 2013 edition. The team was revamped completely after the shocking performances of the first three years and it seems that the new look team does have the capacity to challenge for the trophy; albeit with remarkable irregularity.
Gautam Gambhir, Sarabjit Ladda, Laxmipathy Balaji, Rajat Bhatia, Manvinder Bisla, Rajat Bhatia, Manvinder Bisla, Debabarata Das, Brad Haddin, Iqbal Abdullah, Jacques Kallis, Brett Lee, Brendan McCullum, Ryan McLaren, Mohammad Shami, Eoin Morgan, Sunil Narina, Sumit Narwal, Yusuf Pathan, Pradeep Sangwan, Sachitra Senanayake, Shakib al Hasan, Laxmi Shukla, Ryan ten Doeschate, Manoj Tiwary, James Pattinson.
KKR is without doubt a star studded squad with some of the most exciting talents in world cricket like Gautam Gambir, Eoin Morgan, Yusuf Pathan and James Pattinson as a part of their squad. Added to that, are experienced professionals like Kallis, Shakib and Lee, who lend a lot of stability to the whole playing eleven. Something that has been a revelation has been the army of spinners and slow medium bowlers that KKR now possesses and superb all round ability in players like Laxmi Shukla, Shakib and Rajat Bhatia. It is a well rounded outfit no doubt, with players to call upon in any situation.
In the first three years, the captaincy was an absolute mess at KKR with the responsibilities changing hands between Ganguly and McCullum and back to Ganguly again for the 2010 edition; not to mention the then coach John Buchanan’s infamous ‘multi captain theory’. However, with the accession of Gautam Gambhir to the role, KKR has become a much more settled unit since Gambhir leads from the front and is by far the best T20 batsman in the team. On the other hand, he is an astute captain who knows exactly how to nurture the younger players and delegate responsibility to the senior members like Kallis and Lee. Overall, KKR has a fine captain in Gautam Gambhir.
There is no doubt that the KKR is a strong team with plenty of options for each position. After all, how many teams can have the luxury of having both McCullum and Eoin Morgan in the side: two batsmen who are both specialists in limited overs cricket. However, the biggest strength of the team lies in its spin bowling options and a trio of Sunil Narine, Iqbal Abdullah and Shakib al Hasan which makes for a daunting proposition for any batting unit on Indian pitches. Over the past two seasons KKR have won majority of their games by bowling second and their strategy has revolved around their spinners, who simply do not let the opposition batsmen settle down. KKR’s strength in the bowling department is its biggest weapon.
A massive problem that the team management seems to have failed to find a solution to is the opening batting pair and considering the importance of a good start in a T20 game, it is imperative that the team had a settled pair. Another sore point has been the deplorable form of Yusuf Pathan over the past 3 seasons and due to his continued failures the team has often not been able to get bigger scores. Jacques Kallis seems to have been overburdened with his bowling responsibilities and it would do no harm if KKR goes for a few Indian fast bowlers in next year’s auctions. It is expected that Gambhir would be retained but Yusuf Pathan (who was bought for $2.2 million in 2010) would certainly find himself in the auction pool again.
By Soham Samaddar
Image Source: Kolkata Knight Riders@Facebook
Video Source: Gautam Gambhir interview-kkrofficial