Kolkata Knight Riders IPL 2014 review June 1, 2014

Knight Riders complete perfect turnaround

After a forgettable start, Kolkata Knight Riders built strong with foundations brick by brick and withstood the Kings XI Punjab storm to emerge winners again

Nine wins in the row lifted Kolkata Knight Riders to their second title © BCCI

Where they finished

Winners, for the second time in three years

What went right

After what seemed a customary start, everything. Match by match, brick by brick, Kolkata Knight Riders built themselves into a formidable team with rock-solid foundations, something they needed to withstand the rampaging Kings XI Punjab team in the final. To win nine games on the trot was no mean feat; to do so after losing five games out of seven was truly special.

Knight Riders' bowling prowess was never in dispute. With Sunil Narine continuing to be the mystery he has been in the two previous seasons, the team only gives their opposition a maximum of 16 hittable overs. That is 10% of the game in your hand even before the start of the match. Add to that the potency that Shakib Al Hasan's left-arm spin has brought to the team this season and it's easier to see why even a team like Kings XI Punjab have struggled against them. With an economy of 7.51, Knight Riders were the most difficult attack to score runs against.

It was Knight Riders' batting ability that was under some doubt and the results in the first seven matches only accentuated it. Unlike most other teams, they didn't have any explosive players. But unlike other teams, they didn't need that too much because of their strong bowling. What they needed was consistency, some clarity on their batting orders. And it came when the team landed back in India. Gautam Gambhir had shaken off his misery at the start of the tournament and was scoring runs and Robin Uthappa's promotion to the top totally swung things around.

After two losses in their first two games on the India leg, Knight Riders rode along with Uthappa to chase down five targets in five matches - all of them with ease. Among those five, the six-wicket win against Mumbai Indians was the tightest one, showing the high note their batsmen had hit. Uthappa piled on runs with unheard of consistency; the rest rallied around him to soon make it eight wins in a row as Knight Riders marched to their second final in three years.

In the final though, Uthappa failed, so did Gambhir after their bowling had already cracked under Kings XI Punjab's onslaught. Faced with the gargantuan task of chasing down 200, Knight Riders eventually quelled the doubts about their big-hitting capability. Manish Pandey and Yusuf Pathan powered 10 sixes between them during a 71-run stand between them. Then just at the right time, Piyush Chawla hooked Mitchell Johnson for a six too, rounding off a perfect campaign.

Key stat

Seven of Knight Riders' nine wins came batting second. It was no wonder they chose to bat second in the final and even though it looked like the plan had backfired, they managed to pull it off.

Best player

When the league had moved back to India, Robin Uthappa, with 97 runs from five matches, was 23rd in the list of leading run-getters in the season, 203 behind Glenn Maxwell. In the next 10 matches though, Uthappa added 558 from 10 matches, driving past everyone else in the race and assuming the lead position. It has been some acceleration from Uthappa, who was thought to be a spent force in the IPL circuit. His remarkable run though not only brought rewards on a personal level - he is back in the national team for the tour to Bangladesh - but it also lent Knight Riders concrete-like solidity. With a lowest score of 40 in 10 innings (before the final), Uthappa became to batting what Narine was to Knight Riders' bowling.

Poor performer

For someone who smashed the ball around to register the fastest IPL fifty, it would probably be a bit harsh to say he was the weak link in the team. But it is not actually. Take out that 72 and all Yusuf Pathan has to show are 196 runs from 11 innings. He threatened to play an important role in the final, but left the team in lurch after giving them hope. In four season with Knight Riders, Yusuf has received so much support from his team management but has only had a spike or two to show for it. When Knight Riders were struggling to start well in the early stages, a lot depended on Yusuf to take the team to safety. However, he continued to falter game after game. Gambhir turned around his poor run, but not Yusuf. In India, he had the advantage of strong starts, but still couldn't fire, continuing to live up to the billing of the promise that never was.

Surprise package

For someone rated as one of the best allrounders in international game, Shakib Al Hasan had played smaller, defined roles in the Knight Riders set-up in the past. Bowling has been his stronger suit, but this year Shakib raised the stakes as a batsman. His 227 runs gave the fragile middle-order some girth and his ability to ramp up the pace of scoring lent much-needed intent. It all came together in the match against Royal Challengers Bangalore when he partnered Uthappa in a 119-run stand for the fourth wicket that took less than 12 overs and scored 60 off just 38 balls. Shakib's all-round form kept Jacques Kallis, a proven stalwart, out of the Knight Riders' XI.

Memorable moment

Chris Lynn's acrobatic effort at the boundary in the match against Royal Challengers helped Knight Riders sneak out a two-run win has to be the wow moment. It was a catch that one cannot rehearse during practice and is likely to remain part of cricket's freak moments show reel. As he moved to his left, Lynn slipped, then steadied himself on his one knee, kept eyes on the ball, dived backwards and managed to keep the composure to stay inside the boundary. The catch won Knight Riders an important match during the early stages when their batting was suffering collapses in almost every game.

Unused players

Veer Pratap Singh, Sayan Mondal, Kuldeep Yadav and Debabrata Das

Devashish Fuloria is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dysan25 on June 3, 2014, 8:37 GMT

    Gambhir did a fantastic turnaround after 0001. Cannot imagine any other player coming out of that situation with such confidence.

  • dummy4fb on June 2, 2014, 20:55 GMT

    What drama. What an incredible (and unlikely) script. It's been a joy to watch the spirit of this team grow through the season. The big difference between KKR and the rest? - a mature, determined and communicative captain, a selfless squad, and no egos. Yes Big Show, and the Yellow Men - are your ears burning?

  • dummy4fb on June 2, 2014, 15:56 GMT

    Aaaahhhh, what an effort, what a Chase. Go KKR go

  • nmnaleem on June 2, 2014, 14:06 GMT

    I wonder why the Punjab bowlers didn't use yorkers to restrict the KKR...even Johnson bowl short ball at the dead end over, and chawla took the maximum from it..anyway congrats to KKR.......

  • ShahJR on June 2, 2014, 11:34 GMT

    It has been a wonderful campaign by KKR. Every single player, including Yusuf. And I mean every single one. Gauti led exceptionally. Robin I feel was the real MVP. Manish and Yusuf played important roles in the middle. Shakib came out of his shell with the bat and joined Sunil, Morne and my new favourite Indian Piyush in a frightening bowling line up that includes my personal surprise package in Umesh. Chris & Tendo were magical fielders and important with the bat. No one can take away Pat's delivery against Smith, and Vinay was humble and big hearted with his efforts. Who can forget Jacques Kallis? The lion heart, and Andre the giants hilarious bowl to Watson. Even Manvinder got in on the act and is a forever hero after the first final. I feel we should have beaten RR in both games, but who cares - we are the CHAMPIONS! And every single player is a Champion. Every single one!

  • android_user on June 2, 2014, 11:30 GMT

    Hearty Congratulations to KKR! well done, mine always favorite.Few things has to be retuned, undoubtedly rayan is fine player but his big hitting sixes has to be corrected.Many a times in as many matches he's always caught in deep.

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