Kolkata Knight Riders(KKR) is a cricket franchise based in Kolkata that competes in the Indian Premier League (IPL). Adhering to its motto ‘Korbo Lorbo Jeetbo Re’ (we will perform, fight and triumph), the club has been a testament to the passion of its local cricket frenzy fans.
While Eden Gardens remains the heart and soul of the club, JSCA stadium, Ranchi has also been adopted as their second home stadium. It has regularly hosted home games for the club since 2013.
Kolkata tanked in magnanimous first three editions but a sea change in the core team in 2011 auctions made them a well gelled unit. They have qualified for the playoffs five times since then. KKR lifted the IPL title in 2012 and 2014 under the leadership of Gautam Gambhir.
When BCCI approved of a franchise based T20 league in India in 2007, Kolkata was included in the list of mega cities to feature. Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan owned Red Chillies Entertainment won ownership rights along with Juhi Chawla and Jay Mehta.
KKR has always had a huge fan base owing to the immense popularity of its owners. The think tank was led by coach John Buchanan and local cricketing icon Sourav Ganguly.
The first memory of IPL is of Brendon Mccullum adorning the black and gold of KKR and tonking RCB bowlers enroute to 158 not out. This allowed the tournament to get a massive popularity boost in its nascency.
Local boy Manoj Tiwary scored the title winning runs in 2012 which sparked wild celebrations. Finally, the team had overcome their past failures to become the champions.
They won it again in 2014, which made them the joint most successful team of that time. They also reached the finals of the 2014 Champions League but failed to beat CSK and ended as runners up.
History of KKR can be divided majorly in two eras- the pre 2011 and the post 2011. Sourav Ganguly was the most influential player of the pre 2011 team, but the team failed to do well majorly due to administrative failures and and ageing bench strength.
Post 2011 era has seen KKR achieve many heights. Gautam Gambhir marshalled the side to two IPL titles. Along with Robin Uthappa, he became batting mainstays for the team. On the other side, the bowling department was led by Sunil Narine, while all rounders like Yusuf Pathan, Shakib al Hasan and Andre Russell became major game changers.
The record for fastest IPL fifty is jointly held by Sunil Narine and Yusuf Pathan, both achieving while playing for KKR. Players like Jacques Kallis, Chris Lynn, Piyush Chawla, Kuldeep Yadav, Umesh Yadav etc. are some other players to have made an impact for KKR in different editions.
The first three seasons were a massive failure for KKR at many levels. KKR lost out on a semis spot due to inconsistent results in the inaugural season. Fallout between coach Buchanan and Ganguly massively affected the second season. Mccullum was ascended to captaincy and there was a massive furore by the fans who wanted to see the ‘Prince of Kolkata’ to be their leader. They finished at the bottom that season.
Third season was also a disappointment as the team could not capitalize on the good performances and again failed to reach semis.
Owing to the three failed years, KKR had a revamped strategy in 2011 where they replaced the ageing core team of Ganguly, Ajit Agarkar and Brad Hodge with new faces like Yusuf Pathan, Gautam Gambhir and veterans like Brett Lee and Jacques Kallis.
KKR were able to break the jinx and qualified for playoffs in 2011, although being pipped in the eliminator by Mumbai Indians.
Following that, they won two titles in space of three years. Since then, KKR has been able to qualify for playoffs twice but have failed to go the distance.
For a team that was in shambles in 2010, it is currently the joint second most successful IPL team. KKR is valued at $58.6 million in 2017, which is 24 percent more than last year. It is the biggest and fastest growing franchise in terms of brand value.
Kolkata is a sports loving city, with cricket integral to its culture. Home games at Eden Garden usually witness huge crowds. However, the passionate Kolkata fans showed their displeasure when Sourav Ganguly was released by the team in 2011 by boycotting home games.
KKR has a huge global fanbase due to the involvement of the owners in franchises of other T20 leagues as well. Trinbago Knight Riders (Caribbean Premier League) and Cape Town Knight Riders (upcoming Global T20 league) are its umbrella franchises.
Fans stayed loyal even after constant failures and the fighting spirit was rewarded with glory. The club’s Twitter page has 3.6 million followers. Currently, with such huge brand value and fan following, KKR have become a team to beat.