IPL 2017: Evolution of Kolkata Knight Riders
The prestigious Indian Premier League grabbed the attention of cricket fans around the world in 2008. Eight teams from around the country were bought for huge sums of money but one franchise that was in the spotlight the most was Kolkata Knight Riders.
There was a big fan following for the team due to the presence of the ‘King of Bollywood’ Shahrukh Khan, who is the owner of the team.
KKR started off the IPL with a bang when Brendon McCullum scored a blistering 158 in the first ever game of the league and it kicked the tournament in the best way possible. But post that, there were several ups and downs just like what transpires in a Shahrukh Khan movie.
The Knight Riders were initially bought for a price of $75.09 million by Shahrukh Khan’s company Red Chillies Entertainment, in partnership with actress Juhi Chawla and her husband Jay Mehta.
It eventually turned out to be the second cheapest team of the league after the Rajasthan Royals who were bagged for $67 million. Sourav Ganguly was the icon player of the team and John Buchanan was roped in to be the head coach. The team attracted some of the biggest sponsors of the country that added to the buzz of the team.
The name of the team was derived from the popular American TV series from the 80s, ‘Knight Rider’. The historic Eden Gardens stadium in Kolkata is the venue that hosts the home games for KKR since the first season.
In the inaugural season, the official jersey was in black and gold, a golden helmet and Nokia being their prime sponsor. ‘King Khan’ spoke about the significance of the jersey colours and said, “golden symbolises the spirit of life and black presents the Goddess Kali.”
The logo of the side consisted of a blazing golden Viking helmet against a black background with the name of the team written in gold next to it. The ‘Korbo, Lorbo, Jeetbo Re’ theme had gained huge popularity and Shahrukh Khan was in the promotional video of the song.
But in 2010, the black colour of the jersey was replaced by purple and it has remained the same since then. The gold and purple jersey has been designed by ace Bollywood fashion designer Manish Malhotra.
The logo of the team was also changed in 2012 as the new one consisted of a blazing purple Corinthian helmet trimmed with gold, with Kolkata Knight Riders written within a shield.
Captains and tournament history
The KKR side was initially led by the Prince of Kolkata Sourav Ganguly who was one of the five icon players of the tournament. After a superb start to the league, they failed to keep the momentum and couldn’t make it to the semi-finals. They ended up in 6th place on the points table after losing 7 games out of the 14.
In May 2009, Brendon McCullum was named the new captain but things went from bad to worse as they finished last on the table having lost 10 of the 14 games. In the third season, Ganguly regained the captaincy and they put up a better show but unfortunately missed out on the final four spot by a whisker and ended up in sixth.
Ganguly was dropped from the squad before the fourth season and KKR brought in Gautam Gambhir by spending big bucks and handed him the role of leading the side. The whole squad saw a drastic change and it reflected immediately in the results as they made it to the playoffs.
They went one step ahead in 2012 and became the champions after defeating Chennai Super Kings in the final. It was a huge turnaround in the fortunes of the team after the lows of the first three seasons.
Their performances took a dip in the sixth season as they finished seventh on the points table. But the side led by Gambhir won their second title in the seventh season, this time defeating Kings XI Punjab.
In the two seasons that followed, they were halted in the league stage first but made it to the playoffs in the last season. Gambhir has remained the captain of the side since 2011 and the side currently has one of the most balanced squads with a flurry of all-rounders and specialist spinners.