As the seventh edition of the Indian Premier League gets underway, we preview the teams in contention, analyse their past performances and look at the key players in the franchise. In this piece, we look at 2012 winners Kolkata Knight Riders
Past performances: One of the most high-profile franchises in the event, Kolkata have mostly disappointed in the tournament over the years in spite of having the best of resources at their disposal. But, in 2012, they got their act together and put up a terrific all-round performance to clinch the championship. If you keep aside the 2012 event, they haven’t done a lot to be proud of in the other seasons. In 2008, they were 6th in the group stage, and the next year even worse, finishing last. In 2010, they continued to struggle, ending up 8th again. They qualified for the playoffs in 2011, and ended up fourth. Last year, they finished a disappointing 7th in the group stage.
Sunil Narine: In many ways, the West Indian spinner has been the trump card of the franchise. When he has performed well, KKR have seldom lost. Narine has such amazing control over his bowling that opponents have very rarely managed to go after him. In the recently concluded World T20, he made even Shane Watson look like a tailender with his mystery balls and variations. Narine had a big part to play in KKR’s triumph two seasons back. In 20 overs cricket, even his four overs can be game changing. How Narine performs this season will have a major impact on KKR’s chances as always.
Gautam Gambhir: His international career may have hit a roadblock for now, but the left-hander remains an integral part of KKR’s line- up. He is after all the captain of the side apart from being one of their most experienced batsmen. Both as opener and leader, Gambhir will have a lot on his plate. He has a lot of experience in this format. Gambhir was a key player when India won the World T20 in 2007 and also contributed handsomely to KKR’s triumph in 2012. Unlike in international cricket, Gambhir’s technique doesn’t get exposed a lot in the IPL, which why he has been able to play those fiery innings at the top. KKR would be looking forward to some flyers at the top of the order if they hope for an encore of 2012.
Shakib Al Hasan: In a 20-over contest, Hasan is a priceless asset to have in your side. He is capable of bowling his overs without conceding many runs, can play crucial cameos with the bat, and is a livewire in the field. There are few better utility players in the world when it comes to T20, and KKR are lucky that they have Hasan in their side. Can he live up to expectations again is what needs to be seen.
Other important players: Jacques Kallis, Morne Morkel, Manvinder Bisla, Robin Uthappa
Men who matter off the field
Owner: Shah Rukh Khan, Juhi Chawla, Jai Mehta
Coach: Trevor Bayliss
Assistant coach: Vijay Dahiya
Bowling coach, mentor: Wasim Akram
Batting advisor: W.V. Raman
--By A Cricket Analyst