The franchise – KRR – has been consistent throughout all these years. Seven years, two trophies and five years of top 4 finish, but their journey in this tenth IPL edition has been topsy and turvy. They started well with some great performances but as the tournament progressed, the team stumbled a bit and were knocked out by Mumbai Indians comprehensively.
The latter part of the tournament saw KKR struggle as far as performances are concerned. KKR finished in top four with a positive run-rate. And even though they beat Sunrisers Hyderabad in the eliminator on Wednesday night, they failed to overcome Mumbai’s challenge on Friday.
Kolkata Knight Riders ensured that, having released key fast bowlers and a ban on Andre Russell, they began IPL 2017 with a strong squad that can help them challenge for IPL title.
They needed death bowlers and some quality all-rounders to make for what they lost and they did just that as they picked the players that they wanted, went for them with surgical precision and ended up with everyone that they wanted to have a settled and balanced squad ahead of the tenth edition of the tournament.
In total, they bought nine players at the Auction in Bengaluru and have a squad of 23 players to choose from going into IPL 2017, with the maximum of nine overseas players and also INR 5.4 crore in the bank.
Trent Boult and Chris Woakes were added and for a combined fee that was less than what RCB paid for Tymal Mills.
Nathan Coulter-Nile added depth as did Rishi Dhawan, who is an Indian all-rounder, of which there aren’t many.
They also got in two West Indians in Rovman Powell and Darren Bravo for their base price.
KKR never had any individual hero. The players played like a team. The season started off with Gambhir upgrading Narine to open the batting order along with Lynn, that made a lot of teams out there stressed. The duo delivered well but after Lynn’s fastest fifty in the first match, he got injured which led Narine came along to open with the captain. In next match, Kolkata Knight Riders produced another devastating run chase to thrash Kings XI Punjab by eight wickets and end their unbeaten IPL start. Narine scored 37 off 18 balls with captain Gautam Gambhir (72 not out) who anchored the innings superbly.
Umesh Yadav (4-33) took three wickets in the space of four deliveries late in the Kings XI knock as a promising start was checked to leave the hosts a changeable target. Narine’s 37 was his second-highest score in any form of cricket and 76-1 represented KKR’s best powerplay total in IPL history.Then who can forget about the match against RCB?
The Play of the Day definitely belonged to Sunil Narine for setting the tone of the game. Interestingly, he makes it not for his bowling but for his scintillating batting.
At the Eden Gardens, Virat Kohli called the toss right and chose to field first. He would have believed everything went his way as he quelled a brilliant start from KKR to limit them to just 131 after they were 65 for 1 in only the 6th over.
Nevertheless, RCB made a mess of the chase, falling like nine-pins in the face of some serious pace bowling on a lively wicket at Kolkata. RCB lost the match by 82 runs, all out for 49, the lowest total ever in IPL history.
HOW IT ENDED:
From losing against SRH and then again versus RPS, the team lost confidence. Kolkata never could regain their initial blitz. Until now they were in a race of top two but with a loss to Pune and Hyderabad, they ended in the fourth position, The team failed as Narine was found out in the later part of the tournament as he failed to deliver and the team also lost services of Uthappa. Yusuf was terribly out of form, that he got replaced by Ishank Jaggi in the second eliminator. Though KKR won in the first Eliminator.
In the first eliminator, Gautam Gambhir asked the defending champions to bat first and got it spot on as they could only muster 128 in 20 overs. The rain gods, however, had other ideas as the game was delayed. After a delay of 2 and half hours, the match began, but the target was set at 48 runs from 6 overs!
The Sunrisers put a doubt in the Knight Riders’ minds after the first couple of overs, but the latter managed to reach the promised land with 7 wickets to spare.
Nathan Coulter-Nile defied the trend and bowled superbly to put a serious dent in Hyderabad’s hopes of making the semis after the first innings itself.
When the KKR captain came to the pitch, his team was reeling at 7/2 after just 4 balls! He relieved the pressure straight away with a four over point.
But, they lost against Mumbai again in the second eliminator. Krunal Pandya (45*) guided Mumbai Indians to a six-wicket win over Kolkata Knight Riders in the second qualifier of IPL 2017 at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium. Karn Sharma claimed four wickets while Jasprit Bumrah took three for MI to limit KKR to 107.
Suryakumar Yadav (31) top-scored for Kolkata. What made him the top scorer was that their batsmen got dismissed for 107, no one could play a heroic knock when needed.
Though next year bids are going to be fresh, but the KKR franchise must look for good buys and also utilise them well during the games. They don’t take many risks and this year they could have utilised their bench strength, but an Ishank Jaggi came late and also other players like Powell, Rishi Dhawan was not put into the game.
Gautam Gambhir (C), Sunil Narine, Colin de Grandhomme, Kuldeep Yadav, Manish Pandey, Suryakumar Yadav, Piyush Chawla, Robin Uthappa (WK), Shakib Al Hasan, Chris Lynn, Umesh Yadav, Yusuf Pathan, Sheldon Jackson (WK), Ankit Rajpoot, Trent Boult, Chris Woakes, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Rishi Dhawan, Darren Bravo, Rovman Powell, Sayan Ghosh, R Sanjay Yadav, Ishank Jaggi.