May 3, 2009

Anatomy of Kolkata's disaster

How did the most glamorous team in the IPL become a cautionary tale only halfway into the season?
47

Before the IPL caught fire, before the close finishes and the big hitting, and well before Yuvraj Singh's hat-trick, all the buzz surrounding the tournament was about a blogger called Fake IPL Player. His posts, the first of which went up on day one, dealt largely - and wittily - with "life" inside the Kolkata Knight Riders camp. The jury's out on the blogger's identity and the authenticity of the posts, but this much is clear: his tales of strife, backbiting, politicking and general chaos within the team have shone light on a team that has, by coincidence or otherwise, displayed the symptoms of those diseases within out on the field.

Two weeks into the tournament, the wheels have come off the Knight Riders, arguably the most glamorous team in a glamorous tournament. They lie at the foot of the IPL points table, their season over for all practical purposes barring a Bollywood-style miracle, done in by a mixture of bad management decisions, bad cricket and plain bad luck. And with every incident, however trivial, played up in the saturation coverage of the circus that is the IPL.

When Shah Rukh Khan's Red Chillies Entertainment paid US$75 million for the Kolkata franchise a little over a year ago, it did seem a bit strange at first. The actor has no obvious connection with Kolkata, and the city itself does not have the commercial infrastructure needed to sustain such a high-profile marriage. Once the league started, though, the rationale seemed deceptively simple: Shah Rukh, the consummate entertainer, worked double shifts - as did members of his retinue - to woo and eventually wow the city and its famously passionate fans. The team didn't do that well - ending up sixth in the first season - but no one really seemed to mind. The fans - and, it appears, the players - appreciated the manner in which he threw himself into the role, whether by reading out a poem by Rabindranath Tagore, the city's ultimate hero, at Eden Gardens on the poet's birth anniversary or sending upbeat text messages to the players before and after games.

A year later that relationship lies in tatters. The city is turning against the star and his staff, the players appear confused and disjointed, their body language is negative - and the team's performance on the field is abysmal.

If it can go wrong, it will
The day after the team's 92-run loss to Mumbai Indians, Kolkata's leading newspaper, the hugely influential Bengali-language Ananda Bazar Patrika, delivered a scathing verdict. In an article titled "Don't feel anger, feel pity", their cricket writer Gautam Bhattacharya likened the side to Bollywood strugglers who famously live on the pavements of downtown Mumbai dreaming of success and scrabbling for their shot at it. Only a handful make it. The Knight Riders, Bhattacharya wrote, are as delusional about success in the IPL.

To an outsider, it looks as though the side has been hit by Murphy's Law: Whatever could go wrong has gone wrong. On the field the team has lost six out of seven games, including one by the season's highest margin of defeat in terms of runs and another in terms of balls left (Deccan won with 41 balls to spare). The match against Rajasthan Royals was in their pocket till they had it picked by Yusuf Pathan in the Super Over. Brad Hodge's 73 against Mumbai on Friday was, incredibly, the team's first half-century of the tournament; Brendon McCullum, the captain, who was in fine form just weeks ago against India, now has 31 runs in six innings. Their best bowling in an innings was by an allrounder, Laxmi Ratan Shukla, who didn't get an over in the next game.

That, though, was more by design than accident, a recurring theme for KKR this season. There is no legislating for form on the field, but some decisions seem plain bizarre. Shukla didn't bowl against Bangalore despite his performance in the previous game; neither did Ashok Dinda, a specialist bowler. Instead, Chris Gayle was used for his full quota - including the crucial final over, where the match was lost. If a spinner was to bowl, why was Ajantha Mendis not picked in the playing XI?

In Kolkata the feeling is that the team owners completely failed to figure out the Ganguly phenomenon and what he means to the city. He could have been kicked upstairs, utilised as an icon in the true sense of the word, placated into playing a more mentorial role instead of what seemed like a public humiliation

Multiple captains and other off-field ailments
It's not just match-day performances, however, that are causing headlines. The Knight Riders have been as much newsmakers off the field, and given the fishbowl that is the IPL, one decision instantly affects another. The season was prefaced by the controversial "multi-captaincy" plan, announced by John Buchanan at a press conference in Kolkata, alongside a visibly upset Sourav Ganguly, last season's captain. Not the most tactful decision, as the city, the fans and the media worked themselves into a lather. Ganguly did little to douse the flames; days after Buchanan's announcement, he said the theories were "opinions". Then added, for good measure: "Tomorrow I can jump out and say we need four batting coaches, four John Buchanans, and Shah Rukh Khan can say we need six Andy Bichels." This precipitated an ugly and public war of words through the media, with lines drawn down the middle, but when the dust had settled one thing was clear: Buchanan had Shah Rukh's backing. The theory was eventually discarded, but when the captain for the season was named - from the safe distance of a training camp in South Africa - it was not Ganguly.

Was the single captain a climbdown or was the "multiple captaincy" plan a smokescreen to ease Ganguly out? In any case it spawned yet another raft of conspiracy theories, and that, as Australians before Buchanan have found out when dealing with Ganguly, can be unsettling for any team he's in. In Kolkata, among Ganguly's peers and former team-mates, the feeling is that the team owners got it horribly wrong - they completely failed to figure out the Ganguly phenomenon and what he means to the city. He could have been kicked upstairs, utilised as an icon in the true sense of the word, placated into playing a more mentorial role instead of what seemed like a public humiliation.

"From the very beginning, there has been no clear demarcation of roles between Ganguly and Buchanan," said a former Ranji team-mate. "Ganguly called the shots in the beginning [of last season], and when the team started losing, Shah Rukh turned to Buchanan." It was also, he pointed out, a clash between Ganguly's instinctive style of captaincy and Buchanan's laboriously prepared homework and planning.

Once the season started, other problems ensued. Trouble, often stirred up by the media, followed the team around and minor issues were exaggerated. The "Fake IPL Player" became more than an irritant when the seemingly innocuous act of sending home two players surplus to requirements - Aakash Chopra and Sanjay Bangar - was initially interpreted as a sign that the blogger had been "outed" and expelled. When that was clarified as being a purely cricketing decision, fingers were pointed at the large coaching staff. The fact, as Buchanan and his assistant Matthew Mott stressed, was that several staff members had been hired as talent scouts and not for the team itself. Five staff members left, as planned, though that was seen as an admission of wrong.

Out in the middle, McCullum's elevation to the captaincy appears to be a step too soon. There have been few inspired decisions, and his own woeful form doesn't help. To be fair, his handing Mendis the ball for the Super Over would probably have been hailed as a stroke of genius had the team won, but such are the margins in the game today.

All of this led to speculation - fuelled, invariably, by the media and the mystery blogger - that the team was turning against itself. Buchanan admits to tension in the ranks. "It isn't skill, ability or character, but for whatever reason - some out of our control, some not - it has been pretty evident that some of the players have been tense. We obviously have a high expectation of ourselves, and when things don't go your way, players can start to play with less freedom."

Mott says the personalities at play haven't been a distraction. "There are big personalities involved in a lot of the franchises. I don't think they're a distraction. When you're not winning, these are the sort of [reports] that tend to surface. We just need a good few games to get rolling."

Sins of selection
Easier said than done, perhaps, given the way the team is playing. For that, critics put much of the blame on last season, even going as far back as the first auction. "The team think-tank failed to get the team combination right in the first place," says a veteran Kolkata cricket administrator. "The selection of India discards like Chopra and Ajit Agarkar defied common cricket wisdom, as did that of [Sanjay] Bangar this year." Shoaib Akhtar, out of practice and clearly overweight, was an emotional pick by Shah Rukh and Ganguly, for reasons other than strict deliverability. The final team selection, he says, reflected the confusion - there was nobody stepping back and looking at the team composition as a whole. Though the team had several top foreign batsmen - McCullum, Ricky Ponting and Gayle - it lacked any big-name Indian batsman familiar with the format. As a result, the team selection, given the restriction on foreign players, has inevitably been handicapped.

They had a chance to redress that balance in the second auction, earlier this year; instead, they shelled out $600,000 for Bangladesh allrounder Mashrafe Mortaza after an absurd bidding war with Kings XI Punjab that seemed, at the time, to be nothing more than an ego battle (or an expensive in-joke) between Shah Rukh and his Bollywood co-star Preity Zinta. Mashrafe is yet to play a game this season.

There's been bad luck too. Ponting and Gayle were not available last year, one for part and the other for the whole, and Ponting pulled out this year too. Ishant Sharma seemed a smart pick, but he's not been up to his high standard in the past few months. McCullum has been out of sorts. Cheteshwar Pujara, among the runs in the warm-up games, has a knee injury that has kept him out of the tournament so far.

What seems down to more bad planning, though, and seems to have hurt the team the most is the absence of young Indian talent - like KP Appanna for Bangalore, Rajasthan's Kamran Khan, or Mumbai's Dhawal Kulkarni. Dinda had a fair season last year but he's off the boil this year, and in any case at 25 he's no spring chicken. The ultimate irony came last Wednesday, when Bangalore beat Kolkata. Bangalore's highest scorer was Shreevats Goswami, not yet 20, born and bred in Kolkata and a regular in the Bengal Ranji side.

It's just a handful in the squad of 20 who are firing. Take away Gayle - who may play on Sunday but will miss the rest of the season - and you lose the obvious match-winner.

It doesn't help that the IPL schedule - brutal even by contemporary standards - allows no time for a team to play itself back into form. Buchanan, no stranger to punishing schedules, describes the pressure and intensity of coaching in the IPL as greater than anything he has experienced in a Test or one-day series.

The Shah Rukh factor
In all this, Shah Rukh Khan has been the one constant - constantly on the TV screens, or in the headlines, exhorting his boys, praising "Dada", spinning things more than any of his slow bowlers. Last year he was tireless, in the stands for almost every game, even in the searing summer heat, leading his personal pack of celebrity cheerleaders. This year the pack is smaller, the man himself has been hampered by a shoulder injury. Last year his frequent messages invigorated the team; this year the novelty has worn off, the lengthy texts deemed "preachy".

But if his detractors see him as interfering and in-your-face, the team management sees him as a committed owner. After the mauling by Mumbai, says Mott, the team had a get-together - on McCullum's suggestion - as a way of bonding. "Shah Rukh came down and had a really good chat with the boys. He said that he could see that we were all hurting, and that he was still behind us 100%. I think the boys took a lot of heart out of that."

Shah Rukh returned to Mumbai last week to vote in the national elections - saying he would return to South Africa "only when they [his team] play well and win" - and his return was accompanied by media reports that he plans to sell his entire stake in the team. Shah Rukh subsequently denied such plans, but one report in the respected Business Standard quoted an official of the Sahara group, one of the purported buyers, as saying they hadn't been approached but would be happy to buy the team if they were.

So, at this mid-tournament stage, what's the prognosis for Kolkata Knight Riders? The cynics will say things can only get better - there really is nowhere to go but up. Buchanan admits that Gayle - whenever he leaves - will be a loss. Mott, though, sees the positives and takes heart from the team currently top of the league table. "You look at the way Deccan struggled last year, and the way they've been able to turn it around here. That is a bit of inspiration for us. Everything happens so fast and the schedule is so tight in this tournament that one good week can put you right back up there. That's what all the chat is about in our camp. We know we haven't played to our potential yet, but no one has given up."

(With inputs from Ajay Shankar and Alex Brown)

Jayaditya Gupta is executive editor of Cricinfo in India

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • rahulStillHeaded on May 5, 2009, 20:11 GMT

    Hi Guys, seems like a hell lot of people are angry with KKR. Guys, winning and losing are part of this game and lets not forget that KKR have lost some very close ones. In this tight schedule, there is hardly any time with SRK to think over and rectify the mistakes. He is a human being and he deserves respect. See how Deccan have changed their fortunes this time.

    Please don't forget that SRK also wants his team to win, so whtever call he is taking is based on some rationale. He might be making mistakes but he also wants the team to win.

    Real KKR fans should not be angry but sympathetic in these hard times.

    Lets hope KKR learns and next time they keep their cricket simple and instinctive.

  • janakivallabhan on May 5, 2009, 16:42 GMT

    Ganguly, one of the best captains India has produced, has not been given proper treatment by the coach,who played only 7 first class matches during 78-79. It is unfair on the part of Khan to employ this coach and blame Ganguly for the failure.It is of course the players have to play and produce the result.But the Aus. coach should be asked to resign or he should be sacked for not motivationg the players properly.

  • fataquie on May 5, 2009, 16:30 GMT

    It may sound harsh, but as coach, Mr. Buchanan has ten times more faith in the overseas (specially Australian, Kiwi, and S. African) players than Indian players, which is utterly wrong. Buchanan's is a "make process utterly complicated" type coaching which no one seems to understand, which is contrary to Shane Warne's keeping things simple and build confidence. Shane Warne is probably an excellent captain that the world never got to see in tests and ODIs. Buchanan, on the other hand, is full of rubbish theories who just happened to be at the right place with a team full of legends (Aussies in the '90s and '00s). Mr. Buchanan has until not done things only to deter his team's confidence as well as destroying the spirit within the team. Would he want a team to be led by a young Indian if it was Aussie T20 and the team had an icon, never say die, player like Steve Waugh....well that is Ganguly for India........

  • dhaka-sydney on May 5, 2009, 16:23 GMT

    i think kolkata have the problem from grassroots. westindies domestic cricket have got some real hard hitter from where they can buy some player. the selection of domestic criketer is absolute absurd. sanjay bangar, akash chopra they are not the type of 20-20 player, they are classical test player.. how they can even thought of taking those players. jhon buchanan, what to say about this man. may be he was 1 of the best coaches in the world. but don't 4get he was coaching the best cricket team in the history. and shane warne did comment that this team can still dominate without coach which is crystal true. then MASRAFE MORTAZA, a dashing allrounder but kkr and jhon have no idea that what this guy can do in his day. henriques,mendis fail to deliver but still ahead of mash. then y buy him 4 6m.

  • KTiwari on May 4, 2009, 21:03 GMT

    This season is gone for KKR and mark my words, I don't see any way for them even for next reason. The whole team combination is wrong because they don't have strong Indian player except Ganguly and Ishant.Because...

    1. Ganguly has been captain which India has produced and KKR replace him with 2nd choice NZ captain. Not a smart move. 2.Most of the players are on three year contract so they will not be able to change team composition until 2011 3.A froeign captain will find really hard to communicate with India juniors and new comes 4.A froeign captain will find hard to spot & inspire Indian talent unless you are Shane Warne

  • jishubhai on May 4, 2009, 13:53 GMT

    I do not agree with the comments: ''and the city itself does not have the commercial infrastructure needed to sustain such a high-profile marriage" Kolkata did everything to embrace the Knight Riders as their own. But unfortunately the management should balme themselves for breaking so many hearts in this passionate city. Shane Warne has proved his great cricket brain in every match Rajasthan Royals played. He is very critical about Buchanan. I think he is right. In this season KKR has shown us a team without planning,spirit,captain(real) and most of all it has fielded a team which can not put up a fight!! The whole management is responsible for this and in a way the owner too. Buchanan should go, he did not do anything good for the team. If you can not play with your brain,play with your heart but I think this coach has stabbed the heart of this team. Kick him out...

  • hasib9 on May 4, 2009, 13:47 GMT

    Here are a few of the many reasons why KKR failed:

    1. You can have a maximum of 4 international players in a match. Even if you have the best 4 in your side, you still need to have 7 good Indian cricketers. Ishant is more like a test player to me, and Ganguly is obviously too old for T20, can't even make it to the Indian ODI side. You need players like the Pathans in your side to win matches.

    2. Coach has bad relationship with some of the players. In order to win, a team must be united. Personal performances most of the time doesn't matter. it's the team-work that matters at the end of the day.

    3. Bad selectors. Ishant obviously doesn't have a new-ball partner. Mortaza should have always been included in the side.

    4. Sahruk Khan doesn't know much about cricket. He is playing a big role in selecting the 11 players, which is why Agarkar bowls one over every match, gives away 17 runs, and is still selected for the next match.

    They need Mortaza if they are to win a match.

  • RSG476 on May 4, 2009, 10:51 GMT

    It is ironic to see Mr. Gupta quote AnandaBazarPatrika. The English publication, The Telegraph, of the same group, had waxed eloquent on how the choice of multiple captains was reflective of a move from a fedual Indian cricket setup to a management driven one- what a load of bunkum. KKR completely mishandled Ganguly - if they wanted a new captain, given Ganguly's age and retirement, they should have taken him into the loop, planned it out and made sure that oddball theories were not circulated to facilitate such a change. That would have given Ganguly the needed respect, would have been direct and would have won KKR respect. And maybe that would have rubbed off the team. We now have mystifying policies (if Dinda is not bowled, why does he play), poor cricket all around, and a coach who would not know Sun Tzu if it jumped up and bit him on his behind. This season is perhaps gone. Try some planning for the next, with core cricket skills and less of management idiocy dressed up in jargon.

  • Delhiwala on May 4, 2009, 8:56 GMT

    I have a clear thing to say.

    Shahrukh Khan does not understand cricket as a whole--including Twenty-20! Just look at his team combination this year, after the disastrous first year. One may have enough reasons to pint fingers at some players and ask: Oh my God, why on earth they are selected! And the way he has been constantly humiliating Sourav has harmed both Sourav's perormance as well as his fans. The entire saga of the team's captaincy has been a pathetic joke. And finally, Mashrafee, an all rounder who has been the key figure behind some of the remarkable victories of Bangladesh against other teams (including India in the West Indies world cup), is still warming the reserve bench! DInda gave 23 runs in 2 overs in the last match, and yet Mashrafee is not allowed to play! Can you imagine? The whole management of KKR is a comprehensive joke.

  • Looch on May 4, 2009, 7:35 GMT

    Stop blaming the coach, it's the performance of the 11 blokes out on the field that counts. Also it just goes to show that you can't buy success.

  • rahulStillHeaded on May 5, 2009, 20:11 GMT

    Hi Guys, seems like a hell lot of people are angry with KKR. Guys, winning and losing are part of this game and lets not forget that KKR have lost some very close ones. In this tight schedule, there is hardly any time with SRK to think over and rectify the mistakes. He is a human being and he deserves respect. See how Deccan have changed their fortunes this time.

    Please don't forget that SRK also wants his team to win, so whtever call he is taking is based on some rationale. He might be making mistakes but he also wants the team to win.

    Real KKR fans should not be angry but sympathetic in these hard times.

    Lets hope KKR learns and next time they keep their cricket simple and instinctive.

  • janakivallabhan on May 5, 2009, 16:42 GMT

    Ganguly, one of the best captains India has produced, has not been given proper treatment by the coach,who played only 7 first class matches during 78-79. It is unfair on the part of Khan to employ this coach and blame Ganguly for the failure.It is of course the players have to play and produce the result.But the Aus. coach should be asked to resign or he should be sacked for not motivationg the players properly.

  • fataquie on May 5, 2009, 16:30 GMT

    It may sound harsh, but as coach, Mr. Buchanan has ten times more faith in the overseas (specially Australian, Kiwi, and S. African) players than Indian players, which is utterly wrong. Buchanan's is a "make process utterly complicated" type coaching which no one seems to understand, which is contrary to Shane Warne's keeping things simple and build confidence. Shane Warne is probably an excellent captain that the world never got to see in tests and ODIs. Buchanan, on the other hand, is full of rubbish theories who just happened to be at the right place with a team full of legends (Aussies in the '90s and '00s). Mr. Buchanan has until not done things only to deter his team's confidence as well as destroying the spirit within the team. Would he want a team to be led by a young Indian if it was Aussie T20 and the team had an icon, never say die, player like Steve Waugh....well that is Ganguly for India........

  • dhaka-sydney on May 5, 2009, 16:23 GMT

    i think kolkata have the problem from grassroots. westindies domestic cricket have got some real hard hitter from where they can buy some player. the selection of domestic criketer is absolute absurd. sanjay bangar, akash chopra they are not the type of 20-20 player, they are classical test player.. how they can even thought of taking those players. jhon buchanan, what to say about this man. may be he was 1 of the best coaches in the world. but don't 4get he was coaching the best cricket team in the history. and shane warne did comment that this team can still dominate without coach which is crystal true. then MASRAFE MORTAZA, a dashing allrounder but kkr and jhon have no idea that what this guy can do in his day. henriques,mendis fail to deliver but still ahead of mash. then y buy him 4 6m.

  • KTiwari on May 4, 2009, 21:03 GMT

    This season is gone for KKR and mark my words, I don't see any way for them even for next reason. The whole team combination is wrong because they don't have strong Indian player except Ganguly and Ishant.Because...

    1. Ganguly has been captain which India has produced and KKR replace him with 2nd choice NZ captain. Not a smart move. 2.Most of the players are on three year contract so they will not be able to change team composition until 2011 3.A froeign captain will find really hard to communicate with India juniors and new comes 4.A froeign captain will find hard to spot & inspire Indian talent unless you are Shane Warne

  • jishubhai on May 4, 2009, 13:53 GMT

    I do not agree with the comments: ''and the city itself does not have the commercial infrastructure needed to sustain such a high-profile marriage" Kolkata did everything to embrace the Knight Riders as their own. But unfortunately the management should balme themselves for breaking so many hearts in this passionate city. Shane Warne has proved his great cricket brain in every match Rajasthan Royals played. He is very critical about Buchanan. I think he is right. In this season KKR has shown us a team without planning,spirit,captain(real) and most of all it has fielded a team which can not put up a fight!! The whole management is responsible for this and in a way the owner too. Buchanan should go, he did not do anything good for the team. If you can not play with your brain,play with your heart but I think this coach has stabbed the heart of this team. Kick him out...

  • hasib9 on May 4, 2009, 13:47 GMT

    Here are a few of the many reasons why KKR failed:

    1. You can have a maximum of 4 international players in a match. Even if you have the best 4 in your side, you still need to have 7 good Indian cricketers. Ishant is more like a test player to me, and Ganguly is obviously too old for T20, can't even make it to the Indian ODI side. You need players like the Pathans in your side to win matches.

    2. Coach has bad relationship with some of the players. In order to win, a team must be united. Personal performances most of the time doesn't matter. it's the team-work that matters at the end of the day.

    3. Bad selectors. Ishant obviously doesn't have a new-ball partner. Mortaza should have always been included in the side.

    4. Sahruk Khan doesn't know much about cricket. He is playing a big role in selecting the 11 players, which is why Agarkar bowls one over every match, gives away 17 runs, and is still selected for the next match.

    They need Mortaza if they are to win a match.

  • RSG476 on May 4, 2009, 10:51 GMT

    It is ironic to see Mr. Gupta quote AnandaBazarPatrika. The English publication, The Telegraph, of the same group, had waxed eloquent on how the choice of multiple captains was reflective of a move from a fedual Indian cricket setup to a management driven one- what a load of bunkum. KKR completely mishandled Ganguly - if they wanted a new captain, given Ganguly's age and retirement, they should have taken him into the loop, planned it out and made sure that oddball theories were not circulated to facilitate such a change. That would have given Ganguly the needed respect, would have been direct and would have won KKR respect. And maybe that would have rubbed off the team. We now have mystifying policies (if Dinda is not bowled, why does he play), poor cricket all around, and a coach who would not know Sun Tzu if it jumped up and bit him on his behind. This season is perhaps gone. Try some planning for the next, with core cricket skills and less of management idiocy dressed up in jargon.

  • Delhiwala on May 4, 2009, 8:56 GMT

    I have a clear thing to say.

    Shahrukh Khan does not understand cricket as a whole--including Twenty-20! Just look at his team combination this year, after the disastrous first year. One may have enough reasons to pint fingers at some players and ask: Oh my God, why on earth they are selected! And the way he has been constantly humiliating Sourav has harmed both Sourav's perormance as well as his fans. The entire saga of the team's captaincy has been a pathetic joke. And finally, Mashrafee, an all rounder who has been the key figure behind some of the remarkable victories of Bangladesh against other teams (including India in the West Indies world cup), is still warming the reserve bench! DInda gave 23 runs in 2 overs in the last match, and yet Mashrafee is not allowed to play! Can you imagine? The whole management of KKR is a comprehensive joke.

  • Looch on May 4, 2009, 7:35 GMT

    Stop blaming the coach, it's the performance of the 11 blokes out on the field that counts. Also it just goes to show that you can't buy success.

  • GopalBhar on May 3, 2009, 23:18 GMT

    Curse of Mortaza has befell upon KKR. It's scurrilous why on earth spending 600 grand on one of top ten ICC bowlers, he is being made to warm benches. Remember how last year Akhtar single handedly turned one of KKR's game around by taking 3 wickets is a testament that IPL is far from being a batsman's cup of panax ginseng tea. Where was I? Oh yeah....until this man is given a chance - who can I must point out pwn any teammates in one-handed pushup- KKR will continue to suffer this doom... It's risible and down right outrageous how unknown guys like Henrique gets the nod over one of the most decent players in cricket. It's tantamount to nepotism (re:Buchanan playing his teammate)....(and yes you might have guessed from my rant that I am Bangladeshi but that doesnt change the scenario).

    So bring the knight in shining kevlar in....and for once, stop with the degouttant machination if you want the curse to end.

  • shiplu20 on May 3, 2009, 22:22 GMT

    Now time has come, change should be made. Take some yound indian batsman and as bowler take mashrafee along with ishant sharma. Fire buchanon.

  • Raja.uk on May 3, 2009, 22:02 GMT

    Shahrukh clarified before the tournament that as a owner he was the only one to make decison.True, but all of us ordinary KKR fans who dont have the cash investement,do have an emotional investment in the team as it represents our home town, and it is perhaps ordinary people like us who ultimately own the team. I have been a big fan of Sourav Ganguly for his neversay die spirit,but he has left his best days behind him But the biggest reason KKR has not done well is John Buchanan. Is he such a good coach and the ultimate cricket expert? With the kind of talent the Australian team had ,a monkey would have made them a champion. Pray why play Akash Chopra or Sanjay Bangar and then send them home after one innings. What did that one innings prove? Things which we all non experts knew? That they are not good enough to be in the playing eleven.Why is Brendon Mcullum still playing? Why did Cheteswar pujara not play last year? Where are the Indian talents?Mr Buchanan please leave to save KKR.

  • bangladesh_blaster on May 3, 2009, 21:17 GMT

    Its hard to understand why they are keeping Mashrafi on bench when they spent that much on him? He is a clean hitter, a good medium fast bowler, a talisman who can inject life on this seemingly lost side, not to mention his bengali connection to Kolkata. He may fail, but why arent they trying him when there is nothing to lose? Does Buchanan have an issue with him, if yes, SRK should better step in. Buchanan's personal dislike of Mashrafi shouldnt go unchallenged.

  • libranavi2009 on May 3, 2009, 20:55 GMT

    Problem is with their selection and captain who doesn't know his team strength. Today they had 3 wicketkeepers playing in (Mcullum, Van Wyk and Saha). This must be first time in a match where 3 wicketkeepers were playing. This was the reason why Saha dropped 2 catches of KingsXI opener before he was settled, this made Dinda lose confidence, as he is not use to field in outside. Even though he caught absolute blinder later on. he should be replaced by Pujara (if he is still in team). He is one most consistent player in India. Murali Kartik is not being used properly. He is the bowler who never what he deserves. Team Management should know that he is the one who has lot of T20 experience, after he played important part in the Middlesex being champions of English T20.

  • gromell on May 3, 2009, 20:35 GMT

    The worst selection blunder was not playing Mashrafe Mortaza. He is a very smart and effective bowler for shorter spells and also a very handy batsman who can hit better than any lower middle order/lower order batsman and in some cases, upper order batsmen in KKR team. I do not know why they bought him for 600,000$ and not playing him now?! The chap could have bowled already if he were in Punjab! I feel it was John Buchanan's decision not to play him. This guy must be sacked. And what with the assistant coach?! Look at rajasthan! They have coach, assistant coach, captain all in a single man and they are the reigning champions. This format does not need coaches. It needs a gambler captain and some cheerleaders.

  • moni22 on May 3, 2009, 20:09 GMT

    I just hope that someone from the KKR camp is following this on cricinfo and happens to read this. I am not from Kolkata but still a huge fan of KKR. Its just a matter of one win and then you will have the momentum. Just like the Deccan Chargers last year you have been unlucky to be on the wrong side of close games. You can win 5 out of the next 6 games and could make it to the semis. I know it sounds absurd just now but we all fans are 100% behind you. I have been watching all your games and would like to propose some changes based on pure cricketing terms. 1. Replace McCullum as captain and player. Give him time off to sort things out in his mind. Make Ganguly captain. 2. With Gayle and McCullum out, you can have 2 foreign players in Henriques and Mendis/Langeveldt. 3. Ganguly needs to inspire people like Saha, Yashpal Singh and Laxmi Shukla like Jayawardene had a talk with Yusuf Abdulla after their first match! After all, primarily the Indian players have to fire.

  • jahan123 on May 3, 2009, 20:02 GMT

    all i have to say kkr player selection is very strage ,they losing every match still the same player they r trying ,they have option to change like mortaza the nodail express sitintg in the bench ,he is a real allrounder ,its very sad and very unfortunate ,evry match we expecting mortaza will play but... if the selection like that there is no hope won singlemacth.best of luck kkr and shahruk khan

  • fhcdac on May 3, 2009, 19:41 GMT

    What to Say about KKR performance , nly one thing can do , I can just stop to watch the KKR match...Nothing to say ... But one thing must say ...

    What is the Name of the coach ( One or Three , SRK Knows That ) of KKR ? ohhh BUKA NON , for all of your information The word BUKA NON means NOT A IDIOT !!!! But Originally he is a IDIOT , Mean in Bangla , BUKA ( BOKA ).

    Why they Grab Mashrafee Bin Murtaza ? Whats the problem ? He is Far better then Ishant / Dinda / Ajanta mendis and Agarkar .....

    Atleast he can BAT well then all the name i mentioned here , SRK u already paid lot of money , now u can higher me as ur Adviser for ur KNR.

    Still u have chance , fight with properly with a good Player and still u hv chance to make semi Final.......

  • prabackar on May 3, 2009, 19:37 GMT

    Next IPL edition it is better SRK make things clear whether they want Ganguly or not. Make Ganguly the coach.

  • morcache on May 3, 2009, 19:36 GMT

    Mr Gupta, I am surprised by your arrogance by comparing Mortaza with nothing. How can you say it was a battle of ego? Mortaza is a talented bowler with some frequent flashes of batting knowledge. Im surprised that your opinion is also published here. Btw,just in case ur thinking, I am from UK. Before commenting what players they bought, try to look at what players they are selecting for the matches.

  • prabackar on May 3, 2009, 19:34 GMT

    I don't why Buchanan created all this drama. Everyone knows Ganguly is getting old. If KKR is looking for a new captain it would have been better to talk with Ganguly. Now you see Ganguly is unhappy the whole state West Bengal is unhappy. It is tough to turn things when one is against all those negative vibrations unless a clear thinking and a better vibrant captain is there(like Dhoni). McCullum with no experience as a captain was the wrost choice by Buchanan whom I think is a over-rated coach. If Buchanan was a good coach/SRK a better owner a smooter transition between KKR captain would have happened.

    Finally It is better they choose a better team. Leaving Ajantha Mendis, Mashrafe Mortaza(very accurate) again proves to be a worst decision by the current captaina and coach. Drop McCullum, Ajit Agarkar and pick Ajantha Mendis, Mashrafe Mortaza. If Ganguly is given the captaincy KKR might manage a respectable end.

  • cricket4shafiq on May 3, 2009, 19:19 GMT

    Get Umer Gul, Salman butt, Shoaib actor and hafeez back in the team---and dada as captain......calcutta will start winning

  • die_hard_for_cricket on May 3, 2009, 18:30 GMT

    I am doing MBA from XLRI. In a recent analysis of Organizational Structures, the Professor dissected the multicaptain theory of KKR and clearly showed that the structure is flawed. In fact if an organization was found to be in that situation, it immediately should start doing 'integration'. It was surprizing that Buchanan intentionally wanted to go for a flawed structure. Note: The professor is not a Bengali :)

    It only points to one disturbing fact. Buchanan must have gone for it for a reason other than improving KKR's performance. The decision is inspired by something else (sidelining Ganguly ?).

    If Buchanan really wanted to improve KKR's performance, he should consult a seasoned manager who is familiar with organizational structures. Buchanan is a crickter and he should focus on that. He should not mess with organizational dynamics. Had the multicaptain plan been implemented, KKR would have collapsed and Buchanana wouln't even know the reason behind it. Ignorance is not bliss.

  • sumit1982 on May 3, 2009, 16:16 GMT

    sack Matthew Mott & Buchanan and bring the Indian flavor in the team... since these is ipl not nri premier league . Bring dada as captain he saw able to utilize our domestic talents rather than any foreign deputies .

  • Koushik_Biswas on May 3, 2009, 15:39 GMT

    The blog that has taken the IPL following by storm, though an "unofficial" account of what is going on inside the KKR team, actually reveals a lot. It is fakeiplplayer dot blogspot dot com. One of the most recent posts "Battle of the losers" does indicate that Sourav was offered the captaincy recently, and he declined - why pick up the responsibility when others have done the damage already and sign up for the post of losing captain? The blog uses made up names, Lordie refers to Ganguly.

  • Aveek21 on May 3, 2009, 15:32 GMT

    This was such a shady performance honestly. First and foremost we lost today's match because of so many fielding lapses. Saha, Gayle, Dinda, Ganguly, Mc Cullum...the list goes on forever. What the hell is John Buchanan thinking about his team selection? 3 wicketkeepers in a team of 11 players, and blowing line packed up with Agarkar, Dinda and Laxmi Ratan Shukla whose economy rates are all 9 runs an over. How can you win a match like that? We need Mortaza and Mendis back in the team. And bring back Shoaib Akhthar and Umar Gul. $650K was paid to Mortaza, for what...warming the benches? And tell me, where is Mr Buchanan now with all that talk about Multiple Captains theory? I really want an interview of that guy.

  • ShadowsLight on May 3, 2009, 14:53 GMT

    What is strange to me, is that Kolkata have employed one of South Africa's greatest One Day/Twenty20 bowlers, Charl Langeveldt, and have not used him. Graham Smith would kill to have him over at the Royals and yet he languishes in the depths of the Knight Rider camp. His Super Over in the South African Twenty20 Semi-final was superb, as he only allowed 4 runs to come off it (he dismissed Jayasuriya off the first ball). Imagine what having him in the side would have done if he had been given the Super Over instead of Mendis?

    I think it is a crime not letting him play.

  • Ulio on May 3, 2009, 12:46 GMT

    This team like someone else said needs young national talents. So much money has been spent on junk players. I wonder why Mortaza is not playing with the amount of money spent on him, they should certainly try him out. With all due respect, I think Ganguly should stop playing cricket, he should leave IPL starting next session, he was good, yes he was GOD. But not anymore, only thing he can bring to a team is bad chemistry and problems. He is always crying about something. After the performance they had last year, he knew this was coming, he knew he won't be the captain anymore. He should consider himself happy that he is still around.

    Further KKR got no good players from Indian National Team. Ishant has been a failure in T20, he is not made for T20. KKR all in all is a fail team. Everything has gone in the wrong way. Sack Ganguly and John Buchanan.

  • HarrY-101 on May 3, 2009, 12:42 GMT

    It is quite sad to see that no one pointed out the missing players from KKR's last IPL bunch.They(KKR) are certainly missing a decent new ball partner with Ishant Sharma and that was Umer Gul,he was statiscally as well as practically KKR's best bowler in the first season.Moreover,Captaincy should never have been taken away from Ganguly,he should atleast have been given the first 5 games to prove his worth as KKR's captain.Shoaib Akhtar is fit and doing a decent(not great) job against Australia in UAE.He would have made a handy contribution keeping in mind the conditions in South Africa. Pakistani players should have been there in this edition of IPL,And as unfortunately they can't be due to worsening Indo-Pak relations KKR should have looked to recruit some good pace bowlers to fill the gaps left by Gul and to an extent a fit Shoaib Akhtar.

  • Eshon on May 3, 2009, 12:31 GMT

    Well,after 7 matches KKR have played;they can at least do some good by concentrating a bit more on the team selection now.A captain who not even has managed to score 50 in 7games should be replaced straight away and Ganguly should get back the captaincy.Tell me one thing who is a clean hitter in kolkata for last 5 overs???apart from chris gayle,it is Mashrafee Mortaza,who is a prolific pacer as well,previously done well in south african conditions.He should be in the team as a strike bowler with ishant sharma.i guess mashrafee is regreting y he is not in kings XI punjab who was a competitor in bidding and also require a qulaity fast bowler so bad...still there is time.now gayle is gone as well.so..fingers crosssed...lets c if dey can mangae to finish even 6th this season..

  • MIchael_Knight on May 3, 2009, 11:19 GMT

    Well this is what happens when you choose a stupid name for your team and do not follow it through. Perhaps they would have had a chance if they each had a bat with a red light moving up and down it and referred to it as "Kitt". They have seriously let the Hoff down here. Still, on the plus side, at least the team isn't named after a cigarette brand I suppose.

  • pattu2 on May 3, 2009, 10:18 GMT

    The most simple and ovious reason for the KK's poor show is not showing the due respect to one of the most outstanding Indian Captains we have ever seen. Its very funny to even suggest another name for captaincy when Ganguly is in the team; its like discussing who will open when you have Gavaskar! The next reason is about Rolling Captainship which will not be able to maintain a Captain's due authority or the team's integrity as well.

    pattu

  • karthikk on May 3, 2009, 10:06 GMT

    Basic errors - what is a slow-scoring ex-test opener like Akash Chopra doing in a T20 side? What credentials does McCullum have to show for being picked as captain over a successful, accomplished and experienced on like Ganguly (who is, not to mention, the icon as well)? What is Mortaza, an accurate, effective and quick bowler, and a useful batsman, doing warming the bench? KKR was bound to fail and whoever thought of these decisions deserved to end on the losing side.

  • thunderstormm on May 3, 2009, 9:18 GMT

    Dear SRK

    Cricket is not about filmmaking or acting. There are no retakes in cricket. SRK - forget this year; KKR is trounced and whipped mercilessly and effortlessly by other teams merely because they play with great finesse.

    Start preparing for the next season. Foremost sack Coach Buchanan and appoint Sourav Ganguly as the coach and manager of the team. His arrogance and audacity can bring back pride to Kolkatta and help KKR write a winning script. Remember he did a remarkable job as captain of India.

    It's time for the Prince of Kolkatta to don a different cap and to bring back smiles to the city of joy - Kokatta and his fans. This is a big responsibility and he will be under pressure to deliver. If he fails he will fall from grace and there will be no saviour.Ganguly belongs to Kolkatta and Kolkatta is home to KKR.

    Pass on the Baton to the Prince and put your ego and arrogance to rest. You may be the Badshah of Indian Films Industry but this is cricket.

  • Prats6 on May 3, 2009, 8:01 GMT

    They just dont have the side to beat anyone .. It will be one hell of a shocker if KKR beat someone. If the other team plays bad cricket then KKR can dream of wining. The team selection is horrible. Add to it McCullum's form. He has also been affected by the captaincy and cant play his game as well. If Saurav has to play in every game, then why not just make hin the skipper. They need it pretty bad. Atleast McCullum would play freely and team might unite as well. Making the semis is out of question but atleast they need some wins for sure.

  • Sudhirhk on May 3, 2009, 7:55 GMT

    Yeah, Saurav Ganguly had to be given the captaincy. Who is more experienced and passionate and can gel the team than Ganguly? I reiterate again, Brendon McCullum is a one match IPL wonder. He is a big flop along with his fellow countrymen as Ryder and Taylor. I still see no rationale for making McCullum the captain when you have the tried, tested and successful in the highest form of the game in Ganguly. This same Buchanan was ridiculed by his own countryman Shane Warne and our people have brought him in and have given him free reign to do whatever stupid things he wants along with his cronies. KKR can say tata bye-bye to this edition of IPL and better learn from this fiasco and act smartly for the next IPL.

  • Subra on May 3, 2009, 7:48 GMT

    As Holmes would say the KKR's problems are elementary. 1 Get rid of Buchanan. 2 Make Dada the captain. 3 SRK please give clear indications of what you want to the team and tell them to work out the stategy and win. Give them a fixed period. Sack them if they don't perform, but don't micro-manage the team. Siva from Singapore

  • jamrith on May 3, 2009, 6:37 GMT

    The problems affecting the Kolkata team run deep and could leave a lasting negative impact on young national players like Ishant Sharma--witness his over-the-top reaction to being no-balled in KKR's last match for bowling a full toss above waist height. It must be the cancerous atmosphere in the KKR dressing room that is making him lose his cool so easily.

  • dhruvnz on May 3, 2009, 6:18 GMT

    srk said he would not return jokingly, he wasn't serious.

  • mk49_van on May 3, 2009, 5:52 GMT

    In 75 years of Indian Cricket Bengal has produced 1 cricketer of note. Yes - one. And with due respect Saurav da would probably not make it in most lists of top 10 greatest Indian batsmen. KKR does not do well - no big surprise - phoren babas notwithstanding.

  • GnaneshwarTayalur on May 3, 2009, 5:43 GMT

    Shah-Rukh-Khan's indulgence and over-emotional approach has effected the teams' performance in IPL1 and the second edition as well. Given the fact that there is huge amount of investment involved by the franchisee, he should have given coach and the management the guidelines and left the rest for them to take the decision. The management should have had their heads on their shoulders and taken the decisions to suit their local flavor and urge to win. Hoping the team would regroup for a good fight back, if not for qualifying for the finals.

  • Ronithkumar on May 3, 2009, 5:35 GMT

    I think DADA should have full control of the team... He can change the things for knight riders.. Bcoz McCullum is a gud batsman and he had miserably failed which is bcoz of the Extra burden which he is not familiar with. My sincere request for the management is to give McCullum the breathing space and his batting territory and DADA his own frontier which he is an expert i believe and To REMOVE Buchanan from coaching the side.He is only fit for controversies.

  • dhruvnz on May 3, 2009, 5:22 GMT

    The caption for SRK's picture on this article is misleading: "Crying inside: Shah Rukh Khan has said he won't be back in South Africa till his team start winning". SRK said this in a JOKINGLY and the media are trying to make it sound serious when he said it. Nice try cricinfo.

  • Dominic_Strauss_Kahn on May 3, 2009, 4:42 GMT

    Fan should accept that this season is gone. Next season sort out things one by one. Kick John Buchanan out. Get back Dada as Captain and recruit young desi talent. Dada is a fighter and he will prove that he is still dada.

  • prakhar1 on May 3, 2009, 4:23 GMT

    Kolkata = Epic Fail.

    They seem to fall to shambles every time they take the field. I think Shah Rukh Khan has hurt them more than he has helped them. The players are faced with constant distractions and can't focus on playing the game.

  • ALLROUNDCRICKET on May 3, 2009, 3:31 GMT

    Dada should've been given the reins. He is an Instinctive cricketer who plays his game with passion. When Chappel and Buchanan, whose calibre Warne compares unfavourably to his grandmother, tried to rein in this instinctiveness, it is rather plain that the ensuing result is lack of clarity. The other obsession with promoting McCullum or anyonw without captaincy skills has been exposed to be fatally flawed, and in all honesty in terms of sheer number of runs scored, Ganguly has outscored McCullum the skipper's whole IPL tally in one single innings agains the royals. It is time that we realised true leadership and got a seasoned captain in. Look what Kumble has done....Snatched victory from the jaws of defeat against a rampant Punjab team, unlike KP who seemed to stutter and fall and then stutter some more. Time to abandone this curious and fatally flawed subservience to the colonial masters, and acknowledge the merits in our own lads. GO DADA!

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  • ALLROUNDCRICKET on May 3, 2009, 3:31 GMT

    Dada should've been given the reins. He is an Instinctive cricketer who plays his game with passion. When Chappel and Buchanan, whose calibre Warne compares unfavourably to his grandmother, tried to rein in this instinctiveness, it is rather plain that the ensuing result is lack of clarity. The other obsession with promoting McCullum or anyonw without captaincy skills has been exposed to be fatally flawed, and in all honesty in terms of sheer number of runs scored, Ganguly has outscored McCullum the skipper's whole IPL tally in one single innings agains the royals. It is time that we realised true leadership and got a seasoned captain in. Look what Kumble has done....Snatched victory from the jaws of defeat against a rampant Punjab team, unlike KP who seemed to stutter and fall and then stutter some more. Time to abandone this curious and fatally flawed subservience to the colonial masters, and acknowledge the merits in our own lads. GO DADA!

  • prakhar1 on May 3, 2009, 4:23 GMT

    Kolkata = Epic Fail.

    They seem to fall to shambles every time they take the field. I think Shah Rukh Khan has hurt them more than he has helped them. The players are faced with constant distractions and can't focus on playing the game.

  • Dominic_Strauss_Kahn on May 3, 2009, 4:42 GMT

    Fan should accept that this season is gone. Next season sort out things one by one. Kick John Buchanan out. Get back Dada as Captain and recruit young desi talent. Dada is a fighter and he will prove that he is still dada.

  • dhruvnz on May 3, 2009, 5:22 GMT

    The caption for SRK's picture on this article is misleading: "Crying inside: Shah Rukh Khan has said he won't be back in South Africa till his team start winning". SRK said this in a JOKINGLY and the media are trying to make it sound serious when he said it. Nice try cricinfo.

  • Ronithkumar on May 3, 2009, 5:35 GMT

    I think DADA should have full control of the team... He can change the things for knight riders.. Bcoz McCullum is a gud batsman and he had miserably failed which is bcoz of the Extra burden which he is not familiar with. My sincere request for the management is to give McCullum the breathing space and his batting territory and DADA his own frontier which he is an expert i believe and To REMOVE Buchanan from coaching the side.He is only fit for controversies.

  • GnaneshwarTayalur on May 3, 2009, 5:43 GMT

    Shah-Rukh-Khan's indulgence and over-emotional approach has effected the teams' performance in IPL1 and the second edition as well. Given the fact that there is huge amount of investment involved by the franchisee, he should have given coach and the management the guidelines and left the rest for them to take the decision. The management should have had their heads on their shoulders and taken the decisions to suit their local flavor and urge to win. Hoping the team would regroup for a good fight back, if not for qualifying for the finals.

  • mk49_van on May 3, 2009, 5:52 GMT

    In 75 years of Indian Cricket Bengal has produced 1 cricketer of note. Yes - one. And with due respect Saurav da would probably not make it in most lists of top 10 greatest Indian batsmen. KKR does not do well - no big surprise - phoren babas notwithstanding.

  • dhruvnz on May 3, 2009, 6:18 GMT

    srk said he would not return jokingly, he wasn't serious.

  • jamrith on May 3, 2009, 6:37 GMT

    The problems affecting the Kolkata team run deep and could leave a lasting negative impact on young national players like Ishant Sharma--witness his over-the-top reaction to being no-balled in KKR's last match for bowling a full toss above waist height. It must be the cancerous atmosphere in the KKR dressing room that is making him lose his cool so easily.

  • Subra on May 3, 2009, 7:48 GMT

    As Holmes would say the KKR's problems are elementary. 1 Get rid of Buchanan. 2 Make Dada the captain. 3 SRK please give clear indications of what you want to the team and tell them to work out the stategy and win. Give them a fixed period. Sack them if they don't perform, but don't micro-manage the team. Siva from Singapore