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IPL 2020 Team Profile – Kolkata Knight Riders

The Kolkata Knight Riders have arguably been the most popular franchise in the Indian Premier League ever since its inception back in 2008. Although the city of Kolkata is known for its raucous support towards sport in general.

KKR’s popularity has primarily got to do with the fact that the majority shareholder in the franchise is none other than the King Of Bollywood Shahrukh Khan, arguably one of the most popular Indian individuals all over the world. The franchise is known to be extremely unpredictable on the field, and has endured several roller coaster seasons. So let’s take a look at this franchise in detail and rate their chances of success in the upcoming season.

Kolkata Knight Riders Franchise History

Kolkata Knight Riders are one of the original franchises of the IPL, active since the very first day of the league. They were also part of the first ever IPL match, against the Royal Challengers, under the lights, at the Chinaswamy Stadium on 18th April 2008.

Shahrukh Khan had got his entire entourage to support his team, with many prominent celebrities in attendance and they were visibly overjoyed with the opening ceremony. Kiwi opener Brendon McCullum though, had other ideas. He made the night his own. Sent in to open the innings with the legendary Sourav Ganguly at the other end, McCullum proceeded to indulge in the sort of big hitting the Indian crowds had never seen before. Shattering several records on the night, McCullum ended the night with a mammoth score of 158* off just 73 balls, wowing everyone in attendance and introducing the IPL to the world in style. He rained an unbelievable 13 sixes, instantly earning legendary status. His team comfortably won that match by a huge margin.

This match not only ensured that the IPL was here to stay, it also signalled that Kolkata Knight Riders would emerge as one of the major forces of the league, and it wasn’t long before they got their hands on the trophy multiple times.

The Kolkata franchise has always boasted of some world class players, ever since they played their first match. The original 2008 squad was absolutely star-studded, with the Prince Of Bengal Saurav Ganguly as their captain and icon player, followed by legends such as Ricky Ponting, Chris Gayle and Brendon McCullum. Among the Indian stars, Ishant Sharma, Murali Karthik and Ajit Agarkar strengthened their bowling.

However, the big names did not perform as expected, and KKR endured 3 back to back poor seasons, not even breaking into the top 5 even once. In 2011, however, the franchise revamped aggressively, as they ditched their iconic skipper Saurav Ganguly, and proceeded to sign Gautam Gambhir for a record fee from Delhi Capitals.

This changed the franchise’s fortunes as under Gambhir’s impeccable leadership they qualified for the play-offs for the first time in 2011, and then proceeded to win the title in 2012, amid wild celebrations in the city of joy. They repeated this feat again in the summer of 2014, emerging as champions after a dominant campaign, with their squad boasting of world-class talent like Kallis, Sunil Narine, Eoin Morgan and Shakib Al-Hasan. The 2014 season saw them add Chris Lynn, Pat Cummins and Morne Morkel, all of whom played a huge role in their title-winning season.

These additions set up a really solid core for the side for the seasons ahead, as KKR never once finished outside the top 5 since 2014, establishing themselves as one of the forces to be reckoned with in the league. The big-name additions continued, with the likes of Mitchell Starc, Mitchell Johnson, Jason Holder all joining the ranks. Gambhir was eventually replaced by Dinesh Karthik as captain in 2018, and the team finished 3rd in his first season, but could only muster a 5th placed finish the following season.

SeasonLeague standingFinal standing
20086th out of 8League stage
20098th out of 8League stage
20106th out of 8League stage
20114th out of 10Playoffs
20121st out of 9Champions
20137th out of 9League stage
20141st out of 8Champions
20155th out of 8League stage
20164th out of 8Playoffs
20173rd out of 8Playoffs
20183rd out of 8Playoffs
20195th out of 8League stage

Ownership

The Kolkata Knight Riders were purchased by Red Chillies Entertainment, the production company of Bollywood superstar Shahrukh Khan, in partnership with the Mehta Group, which comprised of Bollywood actress and former Miss India Juhi Chawla and her husband Jay Mehta, for a price of $75.09 million back in 2008. In 2015, the KKR board purchased a majority stake in a CPL team and renamed it to the Trinbago Knight Riders. The KKR board has been widely appreciated for their aggressive approach during the IPL auctions, which has led to some of the biggest names in world cricket turn out for them over the years.

Kolkata Knight Riders Legends And Records

The Kolkata Knight Riders have had some of the best players to have graced this league over the years.

Gautam Gambhir is the franchise’s highest run scorer with 3035 runs in 108 innings between 2011 and 2017. His batting average was 31.05 and he struck a massive 27 half-centuries. He is also the most successful captain in KKR’s history, with 61 wins in 108 matches for a win percentage of 55.94%. He was instrumental as the franchise lifted 2 titles under his able leadership, and emerged as one of the strongest sides in the league throughout his tenure.

Sunil Narine completely changed the fortunes of KKR ever since he joined the side back in 2012. He is their highest wicket-taker in IPL history with 113 wickets in 91 matches, at an exceptional average of under 20. He is also a very handy batsman, often opening the innings and providing some blistering starts, which make him a very valuable asset for the side.

The legendary Brendon McCullum owns the record for the highest individual score in a match, with his blistering opening day knock of 158* yet to be beaten.

Apart from these players, many other legends of the game such as Ponting, Kallis, Ganguly, Gayle, Morgan and Brett Lee have all turned up for this franchise at some point.

Kolkata Knight Riders 2019 IPL Performance Review

Last season, the Kolkata Knight Riders did not have an exceptionally good auction, which is a rarity, as their only notable purchases were Carlos Brathwaite and Lockie Ferguson, both of whom did not play much across the season.

The failure to make quality additions to the squad before the season ended up affecting their chances of qualifying for the play-offs. Despite a very strong start where they won 4 out of the first 5 matches, KKR endured a horrible end to the season as they lost 7 of their next 9 matches, to finish 5th on the league table.

Andre Russell, however, had a dream season, and was rightly adjudged as the MVP for the 2019 season. He was KKR’s top scorer with 510 runs in just 13 innings at an astonishing strike rate of above 200, as well as their highest wicket taker, with 11 wickets in 14 matches.

Kolkata Knight Riders were effectively a one-man team, and whenever Russell failed to perform, the team collapsed, hence it was a disappointing season for them.

Kolkata Knight Riders IPL 2020 Auction

The Kolkata Knight Riders arguably had the best auction window of all franchises at the 2020 IPL Auction, continuing with their tradition of adding some of the biggest names in the cricket world.

Australian quickie Pat Cummins was the most expensive player in this auction, with KKR splashing out Rs 15.5 crores on him. The Knight Riders also signed two of England’s most influential T20 batsmen in Eoin Morgan and Tom Banton, which will go a long way into replacing Chris Lynn, who was inexplicably released along with Robin Uthappa.

The signing of leg-spinner Varun Chakravarthy for a whopping Rs 4 crores now seems like a good investment as he has turned out to be a crucial bowler for them so far this season. While Rahul Tripathi for Rs 60 lakhs is an absolute bargain, as he seems to have solved their opening troubles, with a match-winning knock recently.

Kolkata Knight Riders Current 2020 IPL Squad

Kolkata Knight Riders have a brilliant squad on paper, with plenty of big international names complemented by some top under-rated Indian talent. This squad has the perfect balance of power and talent, although a bit light in the opening department as well as the spin-bowling department considering the poor form of Kuldeep Yadav.

Top Order

The top-order has been one of KKR’s weak spots initially, but they seem to have found the right solution of late.

Shubman Gill – One of the finest young batsmen in Indian cricket currently, Gill has been an absolute gem in the KKR locker room. With remarkable consistency despite being played out of position throughout last season, where he still managed to score 296 runs in 13 innings, Gill is now their primary opener, and is currently their top scorer this season.

Rahul Tripathi – The youngster came into the limelight after a brilliant season for the Rajasthan Royals a few seasons ago, however, he had completely disappeared ever since. KKR took a gamble and purchased him for a meagre amount of Rs 60 lakhs, he has repaid them with 2 brilliant innings in consecutive matches, including a match-winning 81 against CSK as an opener.

Sunil Narine – The most experienced campaigner in the KKR lineup currently, Narine is known for his explosive starts at the top of the batting order as well as being a very tricky bowler to face in the middle-overs. He is still a big asset for KKR and would be looking for this first big innings this season to get things going.

Middle Order

KKR have a strong and balanced middle-order to support the often inconsistent top-order. .

Nitish Rana – The young and dynamic middle order batsman can single-handedly win games for his side, as he has done several times for MI and KKR both in recent seasons. He can also be a very handy 6th bowler, and is known to be an expert at breaking long partnerships. His consistency combined with his big hitting are priceless for KKR.

Eoin Morgan – The all-time highest run-scorer for England in ODIs and T20Is, Morgan is a modern-day legend of the game, and the current limited overs captain of the England National Team, fresh from lifting the ICC Cricket World Cup last year. He is an exceptional batsman who can stabilize the innings as well as turn on the slog mode, with a penchant for hitting mighty sixes on the leg side, specifically over mid-wicket.

Dinesh Karthik – Karthik is a true IPL veteran, having been an integral part of every franchise he has played for since Delhi Daredevils in 2008. He has always fetched some huge prices at the auction, as was the case when KKR spent big on him in 2018, and promptly made him their captain. Huge expectations are there for the experienced keeper, to stabilize the batting order as well as explode at will.

All-Rounders

Andre Russell – Arguably the best all-rounder in T20 cricket, Russell is the most destructive batsman in world cricket right now. Chris Gayle can give him competition in that regard but cannot match his consistency. Russel was KKR’s highest scorer as well as highest wicket-taker last season, highlighting his importance to the side, and they will again heavily rely on him to produce the goods.

Pat Cummins – The most expensive player at the 2020 IPL auction, Cummins in a fiery strike bowler known for taking big wickets and his searing pace. Cummins is also a very handy batsman lower down the order, and can strike some big blows to emerge as a very important player overall for any side he plays for.

Bowlers

The most amazing aspect of KKR’s bowling attack this season has been the triumvirate of Indian youngsters taking charge. Shivam Mavi, Kamlesh Nagarkoti and Varun Chakravarthy have impressed everyone who has been watching KKR games this season. Mavi and Nagarkoti’s impressive energy and pace has rattled opposition batsmen, while Varun’s unpredictable leg spin is extremely difficult to score off.

The Coaching Staff

KKR’s head coach is their iconic legend Brendon McCullum. Who better to coach them than the one player who brought them on to the world stage in their first ever match? He is ably supported by David Hussey, another former KKR player who is now their mentor. Former IPL player Abhishek Nayar is the assistant coach, while former NZ pacer Kyle Mills is the bowling coach.

Season Expectations And Predicted Lineup

With no dearth of quality in batting as well as bowling, predicting a starting XI for the Kolkata Knight Riders is quite a tricky prospect, but we will still give it a shot.

  1. Sunil Narine
  2. Rahul Tripathi
  3. Shubman Gill
  4. Eoin Morgan
  5. Nitish Rana
  6. Dinesh Karthik
  7. Andre Russel
  8. Pat Cummins
  9. Varun Chakravarthy
  10. Kamlesh Nagarkoti
  11. Shivam Mavi
  • Sunil Narine and Rahul Tripathi can be an explosive pair at the top, with both batsmen capable of hitting all over the park.
  • In at number 3, Shubman Gill will then have the opportunity to control the tempo of the innings and explode at will, depending on the situation. After an explosive top 3, we have two consistent and stable batsmen in Nitish Rana and Dinesh Karthik, who can build partnerships and stabilize the innings to set the stage for the big man to come in with his fireworks. Eoin Morgan is probably their biggest middle-order asset who can score quick-fire runs to build huge totals.
  • At number 5, it’s the danger man Andre Russell, who can take the game away from the opposition within a couple of overs with his mighty sixes. He is also a very prolific bowler and the biggest asset in KKR.
  • KKR bat deep with both Pat Cummins and more than capable of striking the ball well and build important partnerships in the death overs.
  • The bowling attack comprises of the 2 fiery young Indian pacemen Mavi and Nagarkoti, who would want to continue their hot streak in this tournament.
  • This side looks incredibly balanced, with 7 bowling options and 9 players who can bat, and if everyone performs as expected it will be very difficult to stop this Kolkata side.

KKR finished last season in 5th position, something they would be extremely disappointed by, considering their usual standards. However, considering they have now got their combinations sorted, as well as had a brilliant auction window, we expect them to do much better than last season.

Betting Tips

KKR to win the title has odds of 6.00 on LeoVegas, and could be a tempting proposition, considering the team has just returned to form and seems to have found the perfect combination.

KKR to reach the final has odds of 3.40 as per LeoVegas, which is a bit of a gamble, but can certainly not be ruled out based on their squad depth and form.

Shubman Gill to win the Orange Cap – KKR’s primary batsmen has been in brilliant nick so far in the tournament, and is their current top scorer. A couple of more big innings could see him on the top of the run scoring charts, and become a favourite for the Orange cap.

Pat Cummins to win the Purple Cap – Cummins had a slow start to his KKR career, however he has now bounced back with some crucial wickets in recent matches, and is likely to be their top wicket-taker.

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Akshay Malhotra

28 year old former professional cricketer at youth levels with a burning passion for sports. Experienced football writer with over 8 years of experience.