Kolkata Knight Riders – IPL 2021 Preview

Kolkata Knight Riders – IPL 2021 Preview
22.03.2021,13:03 130 0

Kolkata Knight Riders, famously known as KKR, is one of the key franchises in the Indian Premier League, representing the city of Kolkata. The franchise has been in the news since its inception in 2008, as it is owned by Bollywood actor Shah Rukh Khan, along with his friend and actress Juhi Chawla and her husband Jay Mehta. Their official theme song is “Korbo, Lorbo, Jeetbo re” – meaning work, fight and win. In 2019, KKR’s brand value was estimated to be around INR 629 Crore (US$ 88 million). Let’s find out more about KKR, their records, key players and the results achieved during the recent auction.

Through the Years in IPL

Sourav Ganguly, former Indian captain and current President of the BCCI, was the icon player for the team and he led the side in the 2008 and 2010 seasons. Brendon McCullum led the franchise in the IPL 2009. The Knight Riders play their home matches at the iconic and oldest stadium in India – Eden Gardens.

KKR thrashed Royal Challengers Bangalore in the inaugural match of the Indian Premier League in 2008 by 140 runs. The match will always be remembered for Brendon McCullum’s (also KKR’s current coach) breathtaking knock of 158 runs from 73 deliveries, and posting a humongous total of 222 runs in 20 overs. In response, RCB got all out for just 88 runs in 15.1 overs. However, the rest of the season did not go as expected, as they ended being sixth managing just 6 wins from 14 matches. The next two seasons were equally disastrous. They finished eighth in 2009 and sixth in 2010.

Under Gautam Gambhir’s leadership, the Knight Riders finally found their way to the playoffs in the IPL 2011 by winning 8 of their 14 group stage matches. However, they were outclassed by Mumbai Indians in the Eliminator match. Gambhir led the side between 2011 and 2017 and under him, KKR became the IPL champions twice, in 2012 and 2014. In 2012, they grabbed their maiden silverware by beating the defending champions Chennai Super Kings in a thriller. KKR chased down a stip target of 191 with just two balls remaining and five wickets in hands. The Player of the Match Manvinder Bisla and one of the best all-rounders Jacques Kallis were instrumental in their success in the final. After a slump in 2013, they grabbed the IPL trophy for the second time in 2014, once again chasing down a challenging total of 199 runs put up by Kings XI Punjab (now Punjab Kings) thanks to Manish Pandey’s heroic innings of 50-ball 94 under pressure. KKR entered the playoffs in the next three seasons – 2016, 2017 and 2018. They finished fifth in the 2019 and 2020 IPL editions.

Overall, between 2008 and 2020, KKR played 192 matches and they won 99, lost 93 matches. Going by their winning percentage (52.08) they are ranked fourth among 13 different franchises, following CSK, MI and SRH.

Top Players

Apart from Sourav Ganguly and Gautam Gambhir, an array of outstanding national and international players have been part of KKR from 2008 to 2021: Sunil Narine, Andre Russell, Brendon McCullum, Dinesh Karthik, Jacques Kallis, Chris Gayle and Shakib Al Hasan.

Overall, Gautam Gambhir has been the top player for KKR scoring 3346 runs. Robin Uthappa is the second-best batsman with 2649 runs, followed by Yusuf Pathan (2061 runs). McCullum’s 158 not out against RCB in the IPL 2008 is the most by any KKR batsman in the history of the IPL.

Spinners Piyush Chawla and Sunil Narine are the top two bowlers of KKR. Narine tops with 127 wickets from 120 matches. Narine’s best bowling figures in the IPL was in 2012 against Kings XI Punjab when he took 5-for-19 for KKR. Chawla has taken 71 wickets playing for KKR and overall in the IPL, he has taken 156 wickets from 164 matches, with the best bowling figures of 4/17.

IPL 2021 Auctions

KKR needed back-ups for overseas players Sunil Narine and Andre Russell, in case they are unavailable. They targeted all-rounders like Glenn Maxwell, K Gowtham and Daniel Christian but couldn’t outbid other franchises due to their budget. They got Shakib Al Hasan for INR 3.2 crore, their highest purchase, and Ben Cutting for INR 75 lakh. They also bought experienced spinner Harbhajan Singh for INR 2 crore.  KKR also got Karun Nair, who scored a triple hundred playing for India and all-rounder Pawan Negi for 50 lakh each.

Kolkata Knight Riders spent INR 81.80 CR from the total kitty and they still have INR 3.20 crore. The other purchases are Sheldon Jackson, Venkatesh Iyer, Vaibhav Arora. Though KKR needed an experienced Indian seamer, they couldn’t fill up this position.

Let’s take a look at the players retained and released by the franchise for the IPL 2021.

Players RetainedPlayers Left out
Eoin Morgan, Andre Russell, Dinesh Karthik, Kamlesh Nagarkoti, Kuldeep Yadav, Lockie Ferguson, Nitish Rana, Prasidh Krishna, Rinku Singh, Sandeep Warrier, Shivam Mavi, Shubman Gill, Sunil Narine, Pat Cummins, Rahul Tripathi, Varun Chakravarthy, Ali Khan, Tim Seifert.Chris Green, Harry Gurney, M Siddharth, Nikhil Naik, Siddhesh Lad and Tom Banton.

Here’s the list of players bought by KKR for the IPL 2021.

Players Bought (Price INR)
Shakib Al Hasan (INR 3.2 crore), Harbhajan Singh (INR 2 crore), Ben Cutting (INR 75 lakh), Karun Nair (INR 50 lakh), Pawan Negi (INR 50 lakh), Sheldon Jackson (INR 20 lakh), Venkatesh Iyer (INR 20 lakh), Vaibhav Arora (INR 20 lakh).

KKR Full Squad

The full squad of Kolkata Knight Riders for the IPL 2021 is listed below.

Eoin Morgan (capt), Andre Russell, Ben Cutting, Dinesh Karthik, Harbhajan Singh, Kamlesh Nagarkoti, Karun Nair, Kuldeep Yadav, Lockie Ferguson, Nitish Rana, Pat Cummins, Pawan Negi, Prasidh Krishna, Rahul Tripathi, Rinku Singh, Sandeep Warrier, Shakib Al Hasan, Sheldon Jackson, Shivam Mavi, Shubman Gill, Sunil Narine, Tim Seifert, Vaibhav Arora, Varun Chakravathi, Venkatesh Iyer.

Important Players in IPL 2021

In the IPL 2021, Kolkata Knight Riders would heavily depend on skipper Eoin Morgan, Shakib Al Hasan, Kuldeep Yadav and Shubhman Gill. Of course, if Sunil Narine and power-hitter Andre Russell make themselves available and play for KKR in the IPL 2021, they will be a much stronger side.

Australian vice-captain and fast bowler Pat Cummins would lead the bowling attack. In 30 T20Is, he has taken 37 wickets with an economy rate of just under 7 and an average of 20.6. In the IPL, he has been slightly expensive but his performance in the IPL 2021 can set the tone for KKR. Shakib Al Hasan can be handy with the bat and ball. He has taken 59 wickets and scored 746 runs in 63 IPL matches. He can score a few quick runs, his strike rate is over 120 in Twenty-20 format. Shubhman Gill would look to propagate his recent form playing for India against England and Australia in the Test series. In 41 IPL matches, he scored 939 runs with an average of 33.5 and a strike rate of 125.2. Kuldeep Yadav too with his spin variations could play a crucial role. He has taken 40 wickets in 45 IPL matches and his best bowling figures are 4 for 20.

Conclusion

Kolkata Knight Riders, the two-time champions, could not reach the top-four in the previous season despite winning the equal number of matches (7) as the third- and fourth-ranked teams (SRH and RCB). In the auctions, they could not get the players of Glenn Maxwell’s calibre, however, their current squad is well balanced, solid and strong. They have some of the great T20 players in the squad, as well as very good domestic and capped players to back them. KKR have shown in the past how to rise to the occasion and win big matches. If they make it to the playoffs, they will be one of the strongest contenders for the title.

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