Kolkata Knight Riders 2013 review May 21, 2013

Narine stands tall amid the ruins

Many of Knight Riders' big names stumbled in a season where the defending champions were also-rans
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Where they finished
Seventh. After winning the title last year, marked by a celebratory open-top bus ride through their home city, Kolkata Knight Riders were happy with the squad they had, buying only two players at the auction this season - spinner Sachithra Senanayake and seamer Ryan McLaren. That confidence proved misplaced though, as their batting failed to fire, and the bowling support for Sunil Narine wasn't adequate. The defending champions struggled for consistency, and it wasn't till the final week of the league phase - when they had only a remote chance of qualifying - that they managed to string together two wins in a row.

What went wrong
What didn't? Right at the start of the tournament, Knight Riders were deprived of two important overseas players. Australia fast bowler James Pattinson, who has the sheer pace and hostility to scare most batsmen in the IPL, was ruled out due to an abdominal problem. Shakib Al Hasan, the Bangladesh allrounder who could have been useful on the slow surfaces in Kolkata and added balance to the side with his batting contributions was unavailable due to the Zimbabwe tour.

The batting was disastrous: Gautam Gambhir began brightly but eight of his final nine innings were scores under 15, Jacques Kallis plodded along at less than a run-a-ball, Yusuf Pathan showed traces of form towards the latter part of the tournament but didn't replicate the match-deciding form that he showed at Rajasthan Royals, and Manoj Tiwary had a disappointing season.

The fast bowling was nothing to boast about either. Kallis had an acceptable season, but L Balaji leaked two runs more per over than he did last season, Brett Lee was a fringe performer and the pacy Shami Ahmed got surprisingly few opportunities.

What went right
A topic under which there was slim pickings for Knight Riders. Their spin department, when they played Narine and Senanayake in tandem, rivalled the best in the competition. Otherwise the faithful at Eden Gardens had little to cheer about.

Best player
Knight Riders' best investment over the last two seasons has been Sunil Narine, on whom they took a big punt in the 2012 auction though he was a little-known player. In his first year, Narine walked away with the Man-of-the-Series award; there was no second-season syndrome in 2013, nor was his mystery decoded as he remained a strong contender for the purple cap through much of the season. He was the only bowler to send down the full quota of 64 overs in the league phase, finishing with a bounty of 22 wickets and a tournament-leading economy-rate of 5.46 (min. 10 overs).

Poor performer
A wide selection to pick from, but in a tournament where young Indian batsmen are the most sought-after, Manoj Tiwary has struggled to make an impact. Much was expected from the chhota dada - the most high-profile player from Bengal - but he could only muster 146 runs in 10 matches as Knight Riders' middle order dithered.

Tiwary had missed out a large chunk of the home domestic season with injury, and was left out of India's Champions Trophy squad. The IPL presented the perfect opportunity to convince the selectors of his limited-overs prowess, but he it is a chance he has wasted.

Surprise package
At the time of the auction, Sachithra Senanayake was just another of the many spinners trying to establish themselves in the Sri Lankan side. It took virtually everyone by surprise when he was bought for a hefty $625,000 but he showed he was worth the money by emerging as Knight Riders' second-best bowler, constantly tricking batsmen with his variations. He played only half the matches this season, as Narine had already cornered one overseas spot, and playing two specialist imported spinners would hamper a squad needing cover in several other departments.

Recommended for retention
Sunil Narine, Gautam Gambhir

Siddarth Ravindran is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Knight_Rider_11 on May 22, 2013, 19:51 GMT

    Considering this season is all over, I would like to place a few pointers for next years strategy ... If the retention policy is in place, as the article suggests KKR should retain only 2 players GG n Sunil Narin .... but they should take a leaf out of CSK's book n try n buy most of the same players ... I say this because no one would anyways be going after Yusuf n Kallis next year ... so KKR can buy the same players for very cheap n buy some other players to fill the void ... I m sure Pathan will never get picked for nywhere close to 2.1 Mil next year ... Key is creating a core of atleast 7-8 players n building your team around that .... This is how CSK did it n its worked pretty well for them so far

  • on May 22, 2013, 19:22 GMT

    believe it or not... more use of RYAN TEN DOESCHATE instead of yusuf pathan could give KKR good result. NO doubt, there was a huge missing of SHAKIB AL HASAN through out the tournament. but nothing they could do much about that as SHAKIB was unavailable for his national duty. yet I tell u something... If u can remember in 2012 IPL , KKR was not using SHAKIB in the beginning of the tournament and they were losing. then, kolkata people and newspapers suddenly started to talk about shakib for not being picked up in the playing squad. then KKR picked him in the squad and shakib banged with his bowling. kkr started to win. then KKR had lost their momentum in the midway of the tourny. again they picked shakib. he did it again for KKR contributing in 2 important matches by bat and ball ( vs RAJSTHAN ROYALS & PUNE WORRIORS) and also became the man of the match in both the matches....

  • on May 22, 2013, 11:52 GMT

    Now they all understood of the importance of absence of Shakib, whereas the authority of KKR has underused him last season, but whenever they used him, the result came out good! Now its time to give the captaincy to Shakib next season and see the magic!

  • on May 22, 2013, 11:52 GMT

    Make Shakib captain and take Tamim, Nasir & Mushi next season and see the magic!

  • on May 22, 2013, 11:51 GMT

    Agree with 'pradave17' Narine was in a wrong team and if RCB got him, they should have to be in the play offs. "Gayle, AB, Virat, Dilshan, Narine", if you this 5 in your team, a great team to watch.

  • Rafelgibt on May 22, 2013, 8:59 GMT

    Looks like KKR doesnt realize that last year it was SHAKIB AL HASAN who played a very vital role (Along with Narine,Lee,Kallis,Abdullah) of winning the trophy but they or the captain never admitted that....They were confident about retain the trophy but the result is front of all...

  • on May 22, 2013, 4:49 GMT

    Coach has the effect,,, last season Wasim Akram was the KKR Coach,, and he makes it for KKR and this season he left KKR and they are disarrayed!!!

  • squarepeg on May 21, 2013, 21:04 GMT

    The magic element brought in by Wasim Akram was missed. KKR looked always too tense, like those disaster years when Ganguly was leading. When a captain is under threat like Gautam's India career is, there can be too much tension, irritation and lack of self-belief in the team. KKR always lacked good Indian batting beyond Gambhir, for in my view, Pathan, Bisla and Tiwary are too inconsistent even at their best. I'd pick Shukla over Tiwary any day. With poor batting form of Kallis and Gambhir, the best KKR composition would have been Bisla, Gambhir, Kallis, Morgan, ten Doeschate, Shukla, Bhatia, Iqbal Abdullah, Sami, Narine, Balaji - not still good enough to win the IPL. Too much hope on McCullum who after that first IPL innning has done notihng, and some rather second-grade players like Dogra, Das, Sangwan, Ladda... players who can't make to their state teams - result of poor auction strategy of Dahiya who loves players from the north zone.

  • on May 21, 2013, 20:22 GMT

    KKR, now you have to realize what do you miss for your team. the great Bangladeshi Al-rounder Shakib al Hasan. Although you didn't use Shakib last IPL, you had won it. But, this IPL you are looking like a ship without it's sail. Now, you should think about Shakib next year. If he plays, that will be fortunate for your team . Shakib, all the best.

  • ROXSPORT on May 21, 2013, 17:33 GMT

    KKR floundered in not playing Tendo right through, preferring Kallis instead. That was their biggest mistake. You gotta be able to spot talent & give them opportunities. I don't know what the think tank was thinking.

  • Knight_Rider_11 on May 22, 2013, 19:51 GMT

    Considering this season is all over, I would like to place a few pointers for next years strategy ... If the retention policy is in place, as the article suggests KKR should retain only 2 players GG n Sunil Narin .... but they should take a leaf out of CSK's book n try n buy most of the same players ... I say this because no one would anyways be going after Yusuf n Kallis next year ... so KKR can buy the same players for very cheap n buy some other players to fill the void ... I m sure Pathan will never get picked for nywhere close to 2.1 Mil next year ... Key is creating a core of atleast 7-8 players n building your team around that .... This is how CSK did it n its worked pretty well for them so far

  • on May 22, 2013, 19:22 GMT

    believe it or not... more use of RYAN TEN DOESCHATE instead of yusuf pathan could give KKR good result. NO doubt, there was a huge missing of SHAKIB AL HASAN through out the tournament. but nothing they could do much about that as SHAKIB was unavailable for his national duty. yet I tell u something... If u can remember in 2012 IPL , KKR was not using SHAKIB in the beginning of the tournament and they were losing. then, kolkata people and newspapers suddenly started to talk about shakib for not being picked up in the playing squad. then KKR picked him in the squad and shakib banged with his bowling. kkr started to win. then KKR had lost their momentum in the midway of the tourny. again they picked shakib. he did it again for KKR contributing in 2 important matches by bat and ball ( vs RAJSTHAN ROYALS & PUNE WORRIORS) and also became the man of the match in both the matches....

  • on May 22, 2013, 11:52 GMT

    Now they all understood of the importance of absence of Shakib, whereas the authority of KKR has underused him last season, but whenever they used him, the result came out good! Now its time to give the captaincy to Shakib next season and see the magic!

  • on May 22, 2013, 11:52 GMT

    Make Shakib captain and take Tamim, Nasir & Mushi next season and see the magic!

  • on May 22, 2013, 11:51 GMT

    Agree with 'pradave17' Narine was in a wrong team and if RCB got him, they should have to be in the play offs. "Gayle, AB, Virat, Dilshan, Narine", if you this 5 in your team, a great team to watch.

  • Rafelgibt on May 22, 2013, 8:59 GMT

    Looks like KKR doesnt realize that last year it was SHAKIB AL HASAN who played a very vital role (Along with Narine,Lee,Kallis,Abdullah) of winning the trophy but they or the captain never admitted that....They were confident about retain the trophy but the result is front of all...

  • on May 22, 2013, 4:49 GMT

    Coach has the effect,,, last season Wasim Akram was the KKR Coach,, and he makes it for KKR and this season he left KKR and they are disarrayed!!!

  • squarepeg on May 21, 2013, 21:04 GMT

    The magic element brought in by Wasim Akram was missed. KKR looked always too tense, like those disaster years when Ganguly was leading. When a captain is under threat like Gautam's India career is, there can be too much tension, irritation and lack of self-belief in the team. KKR always lacked good Indian batting beyond Gambhir, for in my view, Pathan, Bisla and Tiwary are too inconsistent even at their best. I'd pick Shukla over Tiwary any day. With poor batting form of Kallis and Gambhir, the best KKR composition would have been Bisla, Gambhir, Kallis, Morgan, ten Doeschate, Shukla, Bhatia, Iqbal Abdullah, Sami, Narine, Balaji - not still good enough to win the IPL. Too much hope on McCullum who after that first IPL innning has done notihng, and some rather second-grade players like Dogra, Das, Sangwan, Ladda... players who can't make to their state teams - result of poor auction strategy of Dahiya who loves players from the north zone.

  • on May 21, 2013, 20:22 GMT

    KKR, now you have to realize what do you miss for your team. the great Bangladeshi Al-rounder Shakib al Hasan. Although you didn't use Shakib last IPL, you had won it. But, this IPL you are looking like a ship without it's sail. Now, you should think about Shakib next year. If he plays, that will be fortunate for your team . Shakib, all the best.

  • ROXSPORT on May 21, 2013, 17:33 GMT

    KKR floundered in not playing Tendo right through, preferring Kallis instead. That was their biggest mistake. You gotta be able to spot talent & give them opportunities. I don't know what the think tank was thinking.

  • Survivor4you on May 21, 2013, 17:23 GMT

    I think, yes Shakib was obvious option and perfect all rounder, Yusuf should have played as opening pair, he frightens the bowler till he is there, Gambhir was big disaster, Kallis bowling was totally miserable at times. KKR should retain Kallis, Narine, Yusuf, Gambhir as per IPL Auction norms max 4 players, and should look for new cream of 2013-2014 international and domestic players.

  • cricket-india on May 21, 2013, 14:04 GMT

    can't see how GG could be recommeneded for retention; the writer himself says 8 of his last 9 innings were disastrs where he scored less than 15 runs each. GG's template innings is a constant desire to run the ball down to third man for singles, a few good cover drives interspersed with panic running between the wickets and the inevitable edge that's taken behind the wicket. it was only a matter of when and not if the bowlers worked him out, and when they did in the second half of KKR's campaign the results for GG were disasters. as a captian too, GG did nothing remarkable, unless you count the outbursts against balaji and dravid. KKR's win last yr was due to shakib, kallis, lee, balaji and of course bisla in the final when GG flopped. sorry, but it appears downhill for GG from here unless he gets back into the reckoning along with viru by virtue of strong ranji performaces.

  • adam02 on May 21, 2013, 12:56 GMT

    KKR lacking player who could cheer the rest of the team .Most of the KKR looks like too tensed & it also reflected in their captain's attitude .Its like no one was enjoying the match cz of the added pressure ..maybe there is where players like sakib comes handy in hand ..who is confidence ,cheering other mates ..its always feels good to have a good performing int player on your side cz now KKR looks like they are with players who are not playing for their national team anymore or been kicked out before IPL ..so int match confidence matter

  • alawi1234 on May 21, 2013, 12:54 GMT

    i think kkr should retain senanayaka and kallis

  • pradave17 on May 21, 2013, 11:02 GMT

    I think it is not nice to criticize GG for his contribution to the Team. He timely started well and lead the team well got failure at the end though. He is the leading run scorer for KKR at the end. For their wrong selection of players, both GG and the management should be responsible. Kallis contributed some times but that is not in acceptable amount. Narine was in a wrong team and if RCB got him, they should have to be in the play offs. They surprisingly kept Macullum on the bench again and again. Morgans ability was ill used. And out from the ground the moral support was not enough. I bet SRK can't bat or bowled but at least he should have to come and give the moral support to his players. In that sense, Preity Zinta was great and both players and spectators were delighted by her emotional addiction to the sport.

  • on May 21, 2013, 10:55 GMT

    I don't think KKR guys have seen the recent T-20 forms of Ryan TD in different countries. He could have a match-winner if he was given more opportunities and more time to bat with. Also I believe KKR tinkered with the team too much.

  • A.Ak on May 21, 2013, 10:47 GMT

    KKR failed simply because of over relying on YPathan to do miracle, which he always did only in one out of 10 games on average throughout his career, and under using of talented overseas players like McCullam and Tendo.

  • contactsai123 on May 21, 2013, 9:55 GMT

    KKR was the IN-FORM team for the first four seasons, however they were off colour and out-of-form last year. Good to see them to back in the form again.

  • on May 21, 2013, 9:54 GMT

    If i review the IPL 2013 for KKR that, they would had missed sakib Al hasan. They were unable to use of Yusuf pathan, he is fit to open and all has know that when the rajisthan royal was crown at that time yusuf was used to open the innings.

  • MAYURESHmagic on May 21, 2013, 9:36 GMT

    Belive me or not but the missing link was Shakib. He was the allrounder who completes the KKR squad in 2012 if he was available, he would play instead of Senanayke and might won 4 matches for them to qualify.

  • Tapash on May 21, 2013, 9:29 GMT

    KKR should seriously think to add some local batsman for middle order. We have seen Yousuf, Tiwary, & Shukla failed to support their team. Even Gambir also failed to support at the later part of the tournament. We believe among the overseas players, Sakib Al Hasan and Ren Ten Doeshete would be good choice for KRR for the next year IPL.

  • Shah71 on May 21, 2013, 9:28 GMT

    The problem was they had lost Shakib Al Hasan .

  • on May 21, 2013, 9:26 GMT

    @Edassery--- I think there were no issues with Gambhir's captaincy skills... The biggest failure for KKR was their batting!... No-one clicked... Not playing Brendon McCullum, one of the best batsman in T20, Bisla, Tiwary, Kallis all flopped as far as batting is concerned!... Their bowling was brilliant, which we all know folded RCB below 120, but because of batting it became hard for them to chase down that total!...

  • ravi_hari on May 21, 2013, 9:25 GMT

    The burden of defending champs has got on to KKR. Whenever they stepped onto the cricket field, they felt like they are champs and nothing can stop them from winning. After a brilliant start - first ball wkt by Lee, they just did not team up to give a performance to note. Even against weak teams they struggled. Their key players ditched them and there was no new talent which came across. Gambhir, Kallis, Pathan, Balaji, all faded after every match and the disappointment showed very clearly on Gambhir's face. The frustration got on to Gambhir and he showed it on opposition captains - Kohli, Dravid. I think the pressure of SRK is high on the players and they are unable to cope up with that. Though he was not present at most of the matches, his intervention looked obvious. KKR should go in for a re-jigg and should look for some fresh talent from the domestic circuit. They could pick someone like Dilshan or Mahela next season to bolster their batting. A genuine pacer is a must.

  • phunny_game on May 21, 2013, 9:16 GMT

    They did not play well at all, and they will admit that. The batting was the problem, while the bowlers, though not exceptional, were doing their job right. Kallis was the go - to man when wickets were needed, and narine was mysterious as ever. Senanayeke was a good pick as well. But yusuf, bisla, and tiwary were the reason they could never have any stability in the batting. When the Indian batsman in your team are not performing, you can never be too far from the wooden spoon.

    They are likely to retain GG, Narine, BMac or Morgan. I hope the last few performances from Pathan have not taken over the sanity of the owners, and they don't retain him. As mentioned on Cricinfo, he is the impact player minus impact.

  • on May 21, 2013, 9:16 GMT

    Amazingly, thanks mainly to the not-outs in the last few matches, Yusuf Pathan tops the batting averages! Yes, he was nowhere near expectations, but one must consider the fact that his position was rotated from 1 to 2 to 3 to 4 to 5 to 6 to 7.

  • Edassery on May 21, 2013, 9:08 GMT

    Sunil Naraine ended up in the wrong team lead by a poor captain. Be it IPL, domestic or International cricket - the captains need to be matured and behave like leaders. That's the mistake both Kohli and Gambhir committed and alas they are both gone!

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  • Edassery on May 21, 2013, 9:08 GMT

    Sunil Naraine ended up in the wrong team lead by a poor captain. Be it IPL, domestic or International cricket - the captains need to be matured and behave like leaders. That's the mistake both Kohli and Gambhir committed and alas they are both gone!

  • on May 21, 2013, 9:16 GMT

    Amazingly, thanks mainly to the not-outs in the last few matches, Yusuf Pathan tops the batting averages! Yes, he was nowhere near expectations, but one must consider the fact that his position was rotated from 1 to 2 to 3 to 4 to 5 to 6 to 7.

  • phunny_game on May 21, 2013, 9:16 GMT

    They did not play well at all, and they will admit that. The batting was the problem, while the bowlers, though not exceptional, were doing their job right. Kallis was the go - to man when wickets were needed, and narine was mysterious as ever. Senanayeke was a good pick as well. But yusuf, bisla, and tiwary were the reason they could never have any stability in the batting. When the Indian batsman in your team are not performing, you can never be too far from the wooden spoon.

    They are likely to retain GG, Narine, BMac or Morgan. I hope the last few performances from Pathan have not taken over the sanity of the owners, and they don't retain him. As mentioned on Cricinfo, he is the impact player minus impact.

  • ravi_hari on May 21, 2013, 9:25 GMT

    The burden of defending champs has got on to KKR. Whenever they stepped onto the cricket field, they felt like they are champs and nothing can stop them from winning. After a brilliant start - first ball wkt by Lee, they just did not team up to give a performance to note. Even against weak teams they struggled. Their key players ditched them and there was no new talent which came across. Gambhir, Kallis, Pathan, Balaji, all faded after every match and the disappointment showed very clearly on Gambhir's face. The frustration got on to Gambhir and he showed it on opposition captains - Kohli, Dravid. I think the pressure of SRK is high on the players and they are unable to cope up with that. Though he was not present at most of the matches, his intervention looked obvious. KKR should go in for a re-jigg and should look for some fresh talent from the domestic circuit. They could pick someone like Dilshan or Mahela next season to bolster their batting. A genuine pacer is a must.

  • on May 21, 2013, 9:26 GMT

    @Edassery--- I think there were no issues with Gambhir's captaincy skills... The biggest failure for KKR was their batting!... No-one clicked... Not playing Brendon McCullum, one of the best batsman in T20, Bisla, Tiwary, Kallis all flopped as far as batting is concerned!... Their bowling was brilliant, which we all know folded RCB below 120, but because of batting it became hard for them to chase down that total!...

  • Shah71 on May 21, 2013, 9:28 GMT

    The problem was they had lost Shakib Al Hasan .

  • Tapash on May 21, 2013, 9:29 GMT

    KKR should seriously think to add some local batsman for middle order. We have seen Yousuf, Tiwary, & Shukla failed to support their team. Even Gambir also failed to support at the later part of the tournament. We believe among the overseas players, Sakib Al Hasan and Ren Ten Doeshete would be good choice for KRR for the next year IPL.

  • MAYURESHmagic on May 21, 2013, 9:36 GMT

    Belive me or not but the missing link was Shakib. He was the allrounder who completes the KKR squad in 2012 if he was available, he would play instead of Senanayke and might won 4 matches for them to qualify.

  • on May 21, 2013, 9:54 GMT

    If i review the IPL 2013 for KKR that, they would had missed sakib Al hasan. They were unable to use of Yusuf pathan, he is fit to open and all has know that when the rajisthan royal was crown at that time yusuf was used to open the innings.

  • contactsai123 on May 21, 2013, 9:55 GMT

    KKR was the IN-FORM team for the first four seasons, however they were off colour and out-of-form last year. Good to see them to back in the form again.