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

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

  • Devashish 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

  • Dummy4 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....

  • Dummy4 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!

  • Dummy4 on May 22, 2013, 11:52 GMT

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

  • Dummy4 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.

  • KH. RAFIQUE 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...

  • Dummy4 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!!!

  • P 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.

  • Dummy4 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.

  • R 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.

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