'Slow starters' KKR have come a long way in T20 cricket
Since the inception of the Indian Premier League, Kolkata Knight Riders were one of the most popular franchises in the cash-rich tournament. The format was a new one for the Indian cricket fans and it being owned by the extremely popular Shah Rukh Khan and led by Sourav Ganguly, only added to its fan base. Despite having some of the most talented cricketers from across the world, the team lacked consistency in the initial few years which hurt the fans who had high expectations.
In the first three years, KKR let down a lot of their fans with inconsistent performances. The second edition was nothing less than a nightmare where they ended up being at the bottom of the points table, a season where they also suffered nine consecutive defeats.
But ever since the team witnessed a revamp in 2011, where Gautam Gambhir was appointed as the new skipper of the team, the team has shown significant improvement. Under the southpaw's leadership, KKR won two IPL titles in just four years. KKR defeated the mighty Chennai Super Kings to lift their maiden title in 2012 and after a one-year gap, defeated Kings XI Punjab – the most consistent franchise in IPL 2014, for their second title.
After winning nine consecutive matches at IPL 2014, including the win in the final against Kings XI Punjab, KKR continued their winning streak even in the Champions League Twenty 20 where they took their unbeaten streak to 13 matches. Unlike other tournaments, where they needed several matches to get going, CLT20 2014 was an exception as KKR stormed into the semis having won all their four matches.
The best part about this squad is that each and every member is making a contribution. While Robin Uthappa and Gautam Gambhir were on a superb run in IPL 2014, the spinners have been the real heroes in CLT20 as they have flummoxed the top batsmen with their variation. Sunil Narine and Piyush Chawla were already a lethal combo, and the inclusion of Kuldeep Yadav has only strengthened KKR's spin armory.
The team management has also started backing the youngsters, who are willing to take more responsibility. There is a new belief within the team and the never-say-die attitude is something they lacked in the previous seasons. In CLT20 2014, the team found itself in dire straits on several occasions, but they emerged victorious as a result of a team performance.
Under Gambhir's captaincy, the team now looks like a very balanced side. The only criticism which Gambhir has faced of late, is his serious attitude on the field. Being competitive on a cricket field is good, but one might wonder whether the 32-year-old is enjoying his cricket. In one of the instances in this year's CLT20, he was seen arguing with the on-field umpire regarding a decision, and even though he apologised for it in the next match, he should probably refrain himself from indulging into any sort of controversy.
The left-hander might not be in reckoning for a comeback into the Indian team, but as far as the success of KKR is concerned, he is making sure it becomes one of the most formidable teams in the shortest format of the game.