Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) is a Kolkata-based IPL franchise owned by the famous Bollywood actors Shahrukh Khan and Juhi Chawla under their companies, Red Chillies Entertainments, and Mehta Group. Due to the presence of these celebrity owners, they were the most popular franchise during the initial stages of the Indian Premier League. Back then they had the biggest fan following among all 8 teams. But they failed to live up to the expectations in terms of the on-field performances. Later they qualified for the playoffs for the first time in 2011 and then later went on to win their first title in 2021. They repeated this feat in 2014 by then becoming the only second team to win the IPL title twice after Chennai Super Kings. Right now, they are led by England’s world cup winning captain Eoin Morgan and are coached by one of their former players and the legend of the game Brendon McCullum.
KKR’s journey so far is more or less like a cinematic narrative. They were the most hyped about the team before the start of the tournament. The presence of India’s biggest superstar Shahrukh Khan added with the aura of Sourav Ganguly, the prince of Kolkata leading the Kolkata team made them even more likable for everyone. The team had several superstars of the game including Ricky Ponting, Brendon McCullum, Chris Gayle, and many more. They played the first-ever match of the IPL against RCB in 2008 and inaugurated the mega event in style. Brendon McCullum scored a magnificent 158 in that opening match to kick start the IPL. But despite that performance, KKR was probably the worst team among eight teams at the end of the first three seasons, failing to qualify for the play-off at least once. After such three horrific seasons, they completely revamped their squad and even let go of the Prince of Kolkata, Sourav Ganguly which led to massive protests and even affected their fan base. But this move helped them to find their feet in the IPL.
From 2011 onwards they appointed Gautam Gambhir as captain, and this changed their fortunes. He led them to title wins in 2012 and 2014, where they defeated Chennai Super Kings and Kings XI Punjab respectively to claim the prestigious IPL title. They also managed to qualify for the playoffs in the majority of the seasons under Gambhir’s captaincy. Gambhir decided to move on from KKR in 2017. And from 2018, KKR was led by Dinesh Karthik and new dawn began for the Knights. They qualified for the playoffs in 2018 but failed to repeat the feat in 2019 and 2020. In the middle of the IPL 2020 season, Dinesh Karthik handed over the captaincy to Eoin Morgan.
IPL 2021 is one of the worst seasons for KKR in its entire history. They are right now at the penultimate position in the points table with just 2 wins from 5 matches played so far. None of their players have been consistent in IPL 2021. Pat Cummins’s heroics with the bat and ball was the only positive for them from the entire season. And the fact that he won’t be available for the remainder of the season makes their case even worse.
KKR’s team performance in IPL 2021 has been way below their potential. Starting from their captain Eoin Morgan to the local Indian players, all performed way below the expected lines. The team decided to bench star young Indian players like Kuldeep Yadav, Kamlesh Nagarkoti, and Shivam Mavi to make way for the veteran Harbhajan Singh. Apart from a game or two, this move hasn’t helped the team in any sense. They may have to rethink this decision if they are to do well in the remainder of the season.
The other area affecting KKR is the batting department. The top Indian batsmen including Shubman Gill and Nitish Rana have to provide a lot more to their team for the kind of trust the team has put in them. So does their captain Eoin Morgan. His batting average of 15.33 in IPL 2021 doesn’t do them any good rather than just wasting one overseas spot.
In IPL 2021 KKR’s batting and bowling performance has been pathetic, to say the least. They haven’t performed up to the potential that their squad boasts off. Nitish Rana is the top run-scorer for KKR in IPL 2021 with 201 runs from 7 matches. Rahul Tripathi is in the second spot with 187 runs. All the rest of their top Indian and international players failed to deliver with the bat in the first half of the tournament.
As far as the bowling is concerned Pat Cummins leads the chart with 9 wickets from 7 matches. The fact that he won’t be available for the rest of the tournament will affect them for sure. Indian pacer Prasidh Krishna has the second most wickets for KKR this season. He has picked up 8 wickets from 7 matches.
KKR has won the IPL twice in 2012 and 2014 respectively. Gautam Gambhir was the captain of the team on both occasions. They defeated the then two-time champions Chennai Super Kings in their own den in 2012 final to prevent them a hat-trick of title wins. Later in 2014, the Gautam Gambhir led side under the coaching of Trevor Bayliss repeated the feat by defeating Kings XI Punjab for their second title.
England captain Eoin Morgan will once again lead KKR in IPL 2021. He is available for the second leg and hence there won’t be any change in captaincy.
As per the current standings of the IPL 2021 points table. KKR has very little chance to qualify for the play-offs. They just have 2 wins from 7 matches played so far and would need a minimum of 6 wins from the remaining 7 matches to make the cut into the last four. With some of their star players like Pat Cummins unavailable for the second half of the league, KKR is most likely to finish in the bottom four.
IPL 2021 started on the 9th of April 2021. Royal Challengers Bangalore defeated the defending champions Mumbai Indians by 2 wickets to win the first match of the season. It was curtailed due to the presence of Covid-19 among players inside the bubble. KKR’s Varun Chakravarthy reported the first-ever Covid case in IPL 2021. The tournament is set to restart on 19th September.
KKR’s next match of IPL 2021 is against their arch-rivals Royal Challengers Bangalore on 20th September 2021, at the Sheik Zayed cricket stadium in Abu Dhabi. RCB had the better of KKR the last time they played in IPL 2021.
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