IPL 2013: From defending champions to ‘KKR’umblers

By Suyash Srivastava | Updated: May 22, 2013, 16:44 PM IST

MS Dhoni has often been asked about the secret behind the grand success of Chennai Super Kings in IPL. While he has always reiterated the fact that they play as a team and take every game as it comes, one cannot neglect the fact that the two-time IPL winners never forget how to enjoy their cricket. From Suresh Raina to Dwayne Bravo and Murali Vijay to Ravindra Jadeja, all the players have their own way of relieving their team off the pressure every now and then.

Chennai Super Kings have some of the best players from across the world, but despite what is happening in the game, they have players who run all over the field to cheer each other. When a bowler picks a wicket, Suresh Raina is often the first one to congratulate the bowler. In one of the matches this year, he went all the way from square leg to third man just to cheer one of his teammates who dropped a tough chance.

On the other hand, despite having several match-winners in their squad, Kolkata Knight Riders proved to be a major disappointment in this year’s IPL. They were led by Gautam Gambhir, who had once been India’s captain in waiting and following a series of dismal performances was finally axed from the side ahead of the Australian series. Right through the series, Gambhir looked desperate to prove a point to the Indian selectors. And during all of this, he got into unnecessary fights which further dented his image.

The Kohli-Gambhir spat was one of the ugliest scenes in IPL 6. While Kohli is known for his expletives, Gambhir being the senior player could have handled the situation in a better manner instead of provoking Kohli further. But Gambhir looked ready to pick a fight every now and then.

Gambhir had an excellent opportunity to prove that he was still India’s top opener, something which could have helped him seal his berth for the South African series. He scored two consecutive half-centuries in IPL 6, but after that, he was yet again short of confidence and was regularly seen trying to score runs at third man region rather than playing convincing strokes straight down the ground.

Even after a victory, he was probably the only skipper in the tournament who didn’t have a smile on his face. I was therefore surprised to see a wide smile on his face that lasted for a few seconds in KKR’s last league match.

Mumbai Indians have Harbhajan Singh who has ways to lift the team’s spirit. On the other hand, Chennai Super Kings have almost half a dozen cricketers who are entertainers. ‘Sir Jadeja’ jokes are, by now, a big hit and even the left-hander himself has said that he was comfortable with them as it kept the team in a happy mood.

Just like CSK, Kolkata Knight Riders were never short of match-winners. Apart from Shakib Al Hasan, this year, they had all the players who won them their maiden IPL title last year. Like other teams, KKR need players who can help the team in pressure situations. This year, they probably paid for playing too much of ‘Gambhir’ cricket.