Indian Premier League 2011 April 7, 2011

Solid nucleus for new-look Kolkata

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Big picture

The IPL has not been a happy hunting ground for Kolkata Knight Riders. Despite the glamour of Shah Rukh Khan and the leadership of Sourav Ganguly, the franchise struggled on the field and was dogged by a string of controversies off it (who can forget the Fake IPL Player?). It was clear something had to be done to inject optimism and excitement into an increasingly frustrated fan base.

In the offseason, the owners hired a new chief executive, who proceeded to use the January player auction to remake the team, essentially starting over. Ganguly, Kolkata's icon, is gone. So are the other international stars - Chris Gayle, Brendon McCullum, Shane Bond. Stepping into their shoes are Gautam Gambhir, the new captain, Yusuf Pathan, Jacques Kallis and Brett Lee. Kolkata splashed out 62% of its $9 million budget on the first three of those players (50% on Yusuf and Gambhir alone), showing that they are serious about winning, at least in the auction room. It could well turn out to be money shrewdly spent though, as the foursome gives the franchise a nucleus of players who are unafraid of the big stage and have a habit of performing when it matters the most.

Key players

The big four of Gambhir, Yusuf, Kallis and Lee. Gambhir could bring a more laidback approach to captaincy than the passionate and often confrontational Ganguly, while Kallis provides reliability with both bat and ball. Yusuf and Lee supply the firepower, with bat and ball respectively.

Big name in

Gambhir may be the team's most expensive player and Kallis is an all-time great, but Yusuf Pathan is the game changing addition to the squad. His ability to hijack a match from the opposition, no matter what the situation, is priceless in this format. And if he can add a touch of consistency to his breathtaking hitting, Kolkata could well be challenging for the title come the end of May.

Big name out

Sourav Ganguly. The Prince of Kolkata found himself an unwanted orphan after the January player auction, ignored not just by his home team, but every other franchise as well.

Below the radar

The IPL could be the perfect stage for allrounder Iqbal Abdulla to display his many talents. Though only 21, Abdulla is no stranger to the pressure of expectations, having learnt his trade playing for Mumbai, the most demanding of India's domestic teams. Being around the likes of Gambhir and Kallis day in and day out for six weeks can only be good for his development.

Abdulla comes into the IPL on the back of a stellar Ranji Trophy season. He made 382 runs at an average of 47.75, notching up his maiden first-class hundred in the process. He was also his team's leading wicket-taker, picking up 27 wickets at an average of 22.11 with his left-arm spin. He was somewhat less successful in the Syed Mustaq Ali Trophy, India's domestic T20 tournament, averaging just 11 with the bat, but did take seven wickets at a strike rate of 16.20 and an economy rate of 4.84.

Last three seasons

Kolkata fans might want to look away as their team's results make for ugly reading. They have finished sixth, last and sixth in their three seasons, winning no more than seven games in a single season. The nadir came in 2009, when they won just three of their 14 games. That performance, coupled with the controversy surrounding the captaincy, led to the sacking of coach John Buchanan. The team was better in 2010 than the sixth-place finish suggests, and will look to move to the head of the class this time.

Tariq Engineer is a senior sub-editor at Cricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • damnhomie_1 on April 8, 2011, 14:09 GMT

    I just have to say that I cannot support KKR without Ganguly in the team...No I am not a bengali but still KKR without Dada....

  • on April 8, 2011, 12:31 GMT

    good on ya gambhir.....................................

  • Jaazz on April 8, 2011, 12:24 GMT

    in the previous 3 seasons also kkr looks good in the paper, but what they achieved????? after the last IPL it seems to be they are building up a great team, then the fools calling themselves as management throw it all. They should need to keep dada and other good players with new ones.They had no great luck as others, that is the problem, only dada kept the nerve in the last IPL.the magnificent knocks from Jayawardane and Uthappa in the last season taken 2matches from them otherwise they will enter the 2nd stage.

  • ravikumarsinha on April 8, 2011, 12:19 GMT

    formidable what??? Nothing is changed at all. Same team like 2010. Yusuf Pathan is the key... but can he deliver? Also the captaincy... how Gambhir takes all. Also the balling unit who will take onus after Brett Lee. Not looking good....Still in hands of destiny.....

  • blondblackberry on April 8, 2011, 11:00 GMT

    kkr is looking formidable because of "no ganguly".this year they will do better than previous editions.i'm a csk fan good luck to both teams.

  • mksreeram on April 8, 2011, 10:27 GMT

    Raina - 520 in 16 inns, M Vijay - 458 in 15 inns. Both became big hero for T20. The great DADA with 493 in 14 inns is nowhere in the scene. I wonder why...

  • mksreeram on April 8, 2011, 10:22 GMT

    This team sucks. No DADA is bad for KKR. He was the highest scorer for KKR last year and 4th highest among all the players last year. I don't understand why he was not picked.

  • adidaskiddo on April 8, 2011, 9:18 GMT

    ComeOn KKR Just do it nd Rockz the Ipl 2011.*.*

  • CricEshwar on April 8, 2011, 8:24 GMT

    Well everyone says KKR is looking good on paper this year. What happened to previous years? Ganguly, McCullum, Gayle are some of the biggest game changers available at the time. However, main problem with them was the expectations they raised with their first couple of performances in the inaugural edition and went on to chase the same which they couldn't. Added to that, the controversies, the fake ipl player, John Buchanan, Shahrukh's ego (though positive, still a little on the higher side than the amount preferred in sports). They have made the right call to bring a new look team when the opportunity arose. I wish all the best to them for better results this year after CSK and MI.

  • sweetspot on April 8, 2011, 7:08 GMT

    KKR look pretty good on paper, that's for sure. Just like SRK looks good in the posters, but many of his movies suck. Kallis will eat up a lot of balls with his steady but low strike rate. Morgan will have to innovate like mad, along with Doeschate. That leaves only one foreign player to play, and that will be Lee. Who's going to do the bowling against Vijay, Mukund, Bhadri, Dhoni, Raina, Albie and Hussey? Those thieves can get any score. They already have crossed 220 three times!

  • damnhomie_1 on April 8, 2011, 14:09 GMT

    I just have to say that I cannot support KKR without Ganguly in the team...No I am not a bengali but still KKR without Dada....

  • on April 8, 2011, 12:31 GMT

    good on ya gambhir.....................................

  • Jaazz on April 8, 2011, 12:24 GMT

    in the previous 3 seasons also kkr looks good in the paper, but what they achieved????? after the last IPL it seems to be they are building up a great team, then the fools calling themselves as management throw it all. They should need to keep dada and other good players with new ones.They had no great luck as others, that is the problem, only dada kept the nerve in the last IPL.the magnificent knocks from Jayawardane and Uthappa in the last season taken 2matches from them otherwise they will enter the 2nd stage.

  • ravikumarsinha on April 8, 2011, 12:19 GMT

    formidable what??? Nothing is changed at all. Same team like 2010. Yusuf Pathan is the key... but can he deliver? Also the captaincy... how Gambhir takes all. Also the balling unit who will take onus after Brett Lee. Not looking good....Still in hands of destiny.....

  • blondblackberry on April 8, 2011, 11:00 GMT

    kkr is looking formidable because of "no ganguly".this year they will do better than previous editions.i'm a csk fan good luck to both teams.

  • mksreeram on April 8, 2011, 10:27 GMT

    Raina - 520 in 16 inns, M Vijay - 458 in 15 inns. Both became big hero for T20. The great DADA with 493 in 14 inns is nowhere in the scene. I wonder why...

  • mksreeram on April 8, 2011, 10:22 GMT

    This team sucks. No DADA is bad for KKR. He was the highest scorer for KKR last year and 4th highest among all the players last year. I don't understand why he was not picked.

  • adidaskiddo on April 8, 2011, 9:18 GMT

    ComeOn KKR Just do it nd Rockz the Ipl 2011.*.*

  • CricEshwar on April 8, 2011, 8:24 GMT

    Well everyone says KKR is looking good on paper this year. What happened to previous years? Ganguly, McCullum, Gayle are some of the biggest game changers available at the time. However, main problem with them was the expectations they raised with their first couple of performances in the inaugural edition and went on to chase the same which they couldn't. Added to that, the controversies, the fake ipl player, John Buchanan, Shahrukh's ego (though positive, still a little on the higher side than the amount preferred in sports). They have made the right call to bring a new look team when the opportunity arose. I wish all the best to them for better results this year after CSK and MI.

  • sweetspot on April 8, 2011, 7:08 GMT

    KKR look pretty good on paper, that's for sure. Just like SRK looks good in the posters, but many of his movies suck. Kallis will eat up a lot of balls with his steady but low strike rate. Morgan will have to innovate like mad, along with Doeschate. That leaves only one foreign player to play, and that will be Lee. Who's going to do the bowling against Vijay, Mukund, Bhadri, Dhoni, Raina, Albie and Hussey? Those thieves can get any score. They already have crossed 220 three times!

  • NickyBangkok on April 8, 2011, 2:55 GMT

    Who is the keeper now?? Haddin is playing in Bangladesh

  • on April 8, 2011, 2:25 GMT

    KKR is looking quite formidable this year!

  • on April 8, 2011, 2:21 GMT

    KKR has a good team on paper, it will be very difficult for them to click as an unit. Ganguly is an icon in indian cricket, and will always be. Its a shame that SRK treated him very shabbily.Yousef Pathan is the key to their chances and has to bat at no later then No 5 in the batting order. If they keep him to late then he will fail as he has to take a lot more chances then he will have to take at No 05. He needs a little time to get into a groove. Yousef has never been effective when he has a few overs to hit , cause he is very tentative in his mind either to attack or to take his time and it has led to his downfall. Well he is at his best when he knows what he wants to do. In quality Chenai and KKR is equally matched, but I believe that Chenai will win because they jell well as a team and they have a proven leader full of confidence who leads a team with aplomb. We hope we have a good match- I am a neutral but my money is on chenai, hoping that KKR proves me wrong.

  • peterss on April 8, 2011, 1:28 GMT

    KKR stand no chance. The signings they made are ridiculous. Of all people why Yusuf and gambhir? Paying so much for gambhir is absurd. CSK is gonna get off to a rolicking start by whipping KKR. SRK is concentrating on Ra.one and not KKR. Anyways, Ra.one cant match Robot by Rajini. Robot will be far more superior.

  • saugata on April 8, 2011, 0:52 GMT

    Ganguly is not anything different from the tag Kolkata, he is the biggest icon, and should always be there in the team. Atleast proper respect should be shown to him. If you have do business stop the act like a true professional and don't try to play with the emotion of kolkata by your k...k...k....kiron overacting!!!!!!!!

  • saugata on April 8, 2011, 0:49 GMT

    It's definitely important to have a good team, but in club type tournaments like IPL you need to have local players. This team contains a very few of them. I agree this is a good team but if I have to support a good team why not Chennai or Mumbai? I think KKR should exclude the Kolkata tag from their name. We are not going to take their loosing responsibility any more.

  • ShuvRo.Kazee on April 7, 2011, 22:31 GMT

    @donda....why nt? shane arne won the trophy in the first season with the weajkest team mates....at the age of 41

  • on April 7, 2011, 21:46 GMT

    i think IPL was da best think dat happened to cricket...... Like NBA in the USA(basketball) it helped all cricket lovers to unite.... hopefully there wont be any tlk of different countries but the teams it self....KKR i hope all da players do well and hope they win it all.

  • naziia on April 7, 2011, 19:11 GMT

    i will be missing DADA so much. KKR got all the big players this year IPL so i want them to start with winning the game and they should stay with the winning habbit. Shakib Al Hassan won't be playing for the first few games. i want Y Pathan to fire up through out the tournament.

  • donda on April 7, 2011, 18:25 GMT

    Hi hi hi. Old is not gold in IPL, Dada is too old for IPL now, he can be good fit for a coach position in any frenchise. Dada is definately price of Kalkata but old is not gold in IPL. Its all money and performance dears.

  • on April 7, 2011, 18:25 GMT

    it is the best team of t20........

  • on April 7, 2011, 17:55 GMT

    watch out for varun aaron, hes going to be the next big thing

  • xylo on April 7, 2011, 17:26 GMT

    The only weak link in the team is SRK.

  • Cpt.Meanster on April 7, 2011, 16:42 GMT

    Dada, Dada, Dada. C'mon guys you can do better than that. Ganguly WAS a wonderful player for India and a much loved son of Kolkata BUT he cannot keep playing all his life. He should have gracefully retired from all forms of cricket following KKR's failures the past 3 seasons. I ridicule all those who keep whining about his absence. This is a professional cricket league with professional players playing for their clubs. I can't see why Ganguly should ALWAYS be there in the mix. This is the basic weakness in India when it comes to regional bias. They need someone of their own ethnic or lingual origin to do something; be it sports, science or political. Get a life Ganguly fans.

  • TeamSelector on April 7, 2011, 16:31 GMT

    1-Gautam Gambhir, 2-Brad Haddin, 3-Rajat Bhatia, 4- Jacques Kallis, 5-Manoj Tiwary, 6-Shakib al-Hassan, 7-Yusuf Pathan, 8-Brett Lee, 9-Iqbal Abdulla, 10-Laxshmi Balaji, 11-Jaidev Unadkat.

  • pritam_nd_pomi on April 7, 2011, 16:14 GMT

    Sure shot semi finalist.........

  • on April 7, 2011, 16:01 GMT

    loyalty and support for the local team are very important factors in any club based tournament..I'm afraid, KKR has already lost 80% of the home support...I think same goes for RCB too..We can't support a team who claims to be representing Kolkata but doesn't care about the very pulse of the city...What was done with Ganguly is a very shameful act..

  • mafiasam on April 7, 2011, 15:49 GMT

    @ Sudhakar Janne, I think SRK lived up to his promise, they way ganguly plays now, he might be well over a 100.

  • mafiasam on April 7, 2011, 15:49 GMT

    Hey writer, you forgot to mention the likes of Eoin Morgan, to me he is the key to KKR's chances. The lynchpin as you would like to say. I am so confused about which team to support this year. Being a Delhiite it was easy for me to support Daredevils till last year, when Gambhir was in the team, but now I fancy the chances of KKR, but SRK being the owner of the team, i have to think million times before supporting KKR. Here's wishing for the success of Gambhir, Pathan and Morgan, and hoping SRK doesnt take any limelight

  • on April 7, 2011, 14:45 GMT

    All the outrage over Dada not being in the team earlier, I wonder if any of the fan base remember any of that after the CWC win.

  • samedwards on April 7, 2011, 14:17 GMT

    without dada,there is no kkr,just a bunch of highly paid mercenaries.

  • SudhakarJanne on April 7, 2011, 14:02 GMT

    What happened to SRK saying that Ganguly will be captain of KKR till he is 99 years old.... :-)

  • souravsinha on April 7, 2011, 13:55 GMT

    KKR has a good team this year but they will be missing 4 of their foreign recruits for the first 2 matches. That can hurt them. But they have very good allrounders in their team which augers well for them. Lets start the Dhum Dhadaka dhumdhadaka.in

  • ChandrashekharLimit on April 7, 2011, 13:44 GMT

    Good to see that you forgot to mention Shakib. He is gonna make a much bigger impact than Pathan.

  • on April 7, 2011, 13:40 GMT

    KKR must perform!!...Korbo lorbo am thr with u!!

  • on April 7, 2011, 12:45 GMT

    story will b d same........as is srks baseless luv stories......they shud hv invsted smartly

  • Assasinator_007 on April 7, 2011, 12:43 GMT

    Pathan Power!!!!! all the way.

  • Nervewrecker on April 7, 2011, 12:42 GMT

    KKR have tried changing their jersey, coach, support staff, captain and now the entire squad, but their fate won't change. Will be a tough contender for the wooden spoon.

  • on April 7, 2011, 12:10 GMT

    Add Morgan & Tendo into it and its a bigger nucleus... Team to watch out for...

  • on April 7, 2011, 12:08 GMT

    Don't count out RTD either, if he is selected he promises a lot

  • dr.saubhik on April 7, 2011, 11:44 GMT

    there are hardly any local players from bengal bihar n the eastern states...only 4-5 i guess...its a joke that the team is called kolkata knightriders n a delhi ite will b leading it....with dada gone n not many local names in the team theres very little inspiration to support kolkata this time....m sure even gautam gambhir in some corner of his mind wud have liked to play for delhi n not for kolkata....after all its his home town....i just dont undertand how do such decisions motivate people...theres no doubt all those playing in ipl are professionals...but at the end of the day...just think gauti making a century against delhi n winning it for kolkata...how awkward feeling is dat!!!! its much like allan donald,the bowling coach of the kiwis watching south africa's exit in the world cup losing to the kiwis!!!!

  • Prasanthvm on April 7, 2011, 11:38 GMT

    all the best to KKR for this IPL-IV season....

  • Nuxxy on April 7, 2011, 11:35 GMT

    For me the strength of Kolkata is not just from the big names, but also from the stellar support crew: Shakib al Hasan, Ryan ten Doeschate, Eoin Morgan...all are potential match-winners. They also have a good mix of flashy and dependable.

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  • Nuxxy on April 7, 2011, 11:35 GMT

    For me the strength of Kolkata is not just from the big names, but also from the stellar support crew: Shakib al Hasan, Ryan ten Doeschate, Eoin Morgan...all are potential match-winners. They also have a good mix of flashy and dependable.

  • Prasanthvm on April 7, 2011, 11:38 GMT

    all the best to KKR for this IPL-IV season....

  • dr.saubhik on April 7, 2011, 11:44 GMT

    there are hardly any local players from bengal bihar n the eastern states...only 4-5 i guess...its a joke that the team is called kolkata knightriders n a delhi ite will b leading it....with dada gone n not many local names in the team theres very little inspiration to support kolkata this time....m sure even gautam gambhir in some corner of his mind wud have liked to play for delhi n not for kolkata....after all its his home town....i just dont undertand how do such decisions motivate people...theres no doubt all those playing in ipl are professionals...but at the end of the day...just think gauti making a century against delhi n winning it for kolkata...how awkward feeling is dat!!!! its much like allan donald,the bowling coach of the kiwis watching south africa's exit in the world cup losing to the kiwis!!!!

  • on April 7, 2011, 12:08 GMT

    Don't count out RTD either, if he is selected he promises a lot

  • on April 7, 2011, 12:10 GMT

    Add Morgan & Tendo into it and its a bigger nucleus... Team to watch out for...

  • Nervewrecker on April 7, 2011, 12:42 GMT

    KKR have tried changing their jersey, coach, support staff, captain and now the entire squad, but their fate won't change. Will be a tough contender for the wooden spoon.

  • Assasinator_007 on April 7, 2011, 12:43 GMT

    Pathan Power!!!!! all the way.

  • on April 7, 2011, 12:45 GMT

    story will b d same........as is srks baseless luv stories......they shud hv invsted smartly

  • on April 7, 2011, 13:40 GMT

    KKR must perform!!...Korbo lorbo am thr with u!!

  • ChandrashekharLimit on April 7, 2011, 13:44 GMT

    Good to see that you forgot to mention Shakib. He is gonna make a much bigger impact than Pathan.