April 30, 2011

New-look Kolkata turn it around

From the whipping boys of the IPL to serious contenders, the Knight Riders have come a long way
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Four months ago, Gautam Gambhir's name was the first to come out of the hat at the IPL player auction. Gambhir had been a solid but unspectacular performer for Delhi Daredevils over the first three years, and while he was expected to be sought after, what happened next would surprise everyone. Gambhir's price didn't merely rise, it skyrocketed. First, it went past $1 million. Then $1.5 million. Then $2 million, the most ever bid in the IPL. When the dust settled, Kolkata Knight Riders were the last team standing, having pushed Gambhir's value to $2.4 million. Sold!

Kolkata followed that up by buying Yusuf Pathan for $2.1 million and Jacques Kallis for $1.2 million. In 45 minutes they had spent 62% of their salary cap on three players. It looked like madness. But there was a method in there; one that was intended to transform Kolkata from headline-making also-rans to actual championship contenders.

Halfway through the league stage, Kolkata sit in second place on the points table, sandwiched between last year's finalists, Mumbai Indians and Chennai Super Kings, and have been a fixture in the top four since they beat Rajasthan Royals in their third game. If they can build on their strong start, the only franchise to have never qualified for the IPL semi-finals should have every chance of erasing that record.

It had all looked so promising back in 2008. Shah Rukh Khan gave Kolkata star appeal, and with human headline Sourav Ganguly at the helm, the team seemed destined for big things. Only, somebody forgot to read the script. In their first three seasons Kolkata finished sixth, last and sixth.

Their misery was compounded by their endless ability to attract controversy. There was the Fake IPL Player blogger, who turned the franchise into a running joke; coach John Buchanan's multiple-captain theory; and Ganguly's quarrels with Buchanan and Brendon McCullum. Kolkata had all the drama and intrigue of a Bollywood blockbuster, but without the box office success.

"The team had to change," Arun Lal, former India and West Bengal opener, told ESPNcricinfo.

Only, this was no simple job. The house that Shah Rukh built needed more than a fresh coat of paint. It needed to be razed and rebuilt.

As its new head, the franchise hired Venky Mysore, who had 25 years of experience in the insurance business. Mysore had played cricket for Madras University and understood the game. The job was a way back into the sport for him. He took over as chief executive in September 2010, and quickly realised that the player auction provided the perfect opportunity for Kolkata to start over.

Mysore first asked his team to identify types of players that they wanted - gamechangers, fast bowlers, wicketkeeper-batsmen - rather than individuals. "You cannot afford to attach yourself to names when you are going with an auction strategy," Mysore told ESPNcricinfo. "It is much more the skill sets and the composition more generically."

The next step was to pick eight players for each position. Once they had assembled their wishlist, it was time to learn how to deal with auction pressure. "There is a certain panic that sets in when you get into that situation," Mysore says. To deal with that panic, the team conducted mock auctions in the weeks leading up to the event. Mysore wrote out what he thought the other teams' strategies would be and included them in their simulations.

By the end of the exercise they had a value for every player up for grabs in Bangalore. But even that wasn't good enough. Mysore wanted every edge he could find and decided to take a leaf out of a poker player's book. The best of them can read opponents, and tell from body language whether an opponent is bluffing or not. Mysore went to the BCCI, got videos of the first two auctions and studied them, looking for what are called "tells", signs that give away what another person may be thinking.

It was this detailed preparation that allowed them to feel confident about spending more than a quarter of their budget on one player. The team wanted, as part of their core, "a very good Indian player, a current international," according to coach Dav Whatmore. "There was a choice of probably four of these and we went for Gambhir."

Similarly Yusuf was someone Whatmore felt was "very important" to their plans of changing the team's fortunes, while Kallis was targeted for his proven ability in all forms of the game.

But lost in the glare of all the money being thrown around was that Kolkata bought plenty of talent on the cheap too - they picked up nine other players, each for $500,000 or less.

"Brett Lee is a case in point," Mysore says. "When we got him at base price [$400,000] I don't think too many people expected him to do what he did in the World Cup. But we had done our homework. He was training hard. He was as fit as he had ever been."

The core of Gambhir, Kallis, Yusuf and Lee was rounded out with of group of international and domestic players to fill a number of roles. England batsman Eoin Morgan and Netherlands' Ryan ten Doeschate add batting depth. Bangladesh captain Shakib Al Hasan gives the team another quality allrounder, while Brad Haddin, the Australian wicketkeeper-batsman, was to provide flexibility behind the stumps. Add the likes of Manoj Tiwary, Iqbal Abdulla and Lakshmipathy Balaji, and Kolkata had much talent and experience up and down the order.

The big decision, was, of course, letting Ganguly go. Perhaps only Sachin Tendulkar is as tied to the city of his birth as the Prince of Kolkata is. The decision, Mysore says, was based on cold cricketing logic. Any "retained" players would be locked in for two years, with the possibility of a third, and a 40-year Ganguly was always going to be a risk. A section of the fans did lash out at Kolkata for jettisoning their hero, but the team, Mysore said, always had to be more important than a single player.

Once the post-auction domestic signing frenzy had died down, Kolkata wound up with 20 names on its roster, the fewest among all the franchises. A smaller squad is easier to manage tactically and financially. "You look at a World Cup," Whatmore says. "You are playing in a tournament for roughly the same time and you have 15 players. The more you've got, the harder it is."

Lal backs up Whatmore's assessment that 20 is plenty. "I like this team," he says. "It has a lot of energy. It has great balance. It has terrific match-winners. Gautam Gambhir, Yusuf Pathan. Kallis is a great plus. Brett Lee can turn around a game on his day.

"Shakib can be very interesting. The IPL is being played in April and May on tired wickets, so you definitely need spinners."

It took the new-look Knight Riders three games to find themselves. They stumbled against Chennai Super Kings in the opener, and then barely hung on against Deccan Chargers to register their first win. But it all came together against Rajasthan. Chasing 160, Kolkata lost an early wicket but Gambhir and Kallis quelled any jangling nerves with an unhurried, unbeaten 152-run partnership.

Gambhir's leadership seems to have brought a quiet calm that was missing during Ganguly's tumultuous reign, while Kallis has provided the solidity at the top that Chris Gayle and McCullum, for all their explosiveness, lacked. They have delivered precisely the kind of goods for which the franchise shelled out all those millions.

The team followed their away win by thumping Rajasthan in the return game at Eden Gardens, and this time the bowlers were the stars. Led by Balaji, who uncorked one of the deliveries of the tournament to get rid of Shane Watson, they toppled Rajasthan for 81 and waltzed to victory. Gambhir was there at the end once again.

Having seen Kolkata demolish his team twice, Rajasthan chief executive Sean Morris needs no further convincing. He says Kolkata are a formidable side and expects them to be there at the business end of the tournament. "They have some of the best players in the world. Lots of variety in their bowling attack. They are a well-organised and well-run unit. I always thought they would be one of the top teams."

Kolkata are targeting a semi-final spot this season and Lal reckons they have a good shot at making the knockout stages. He ranks Mumbai Indians and Chennai as the best teams in the tournament, with Kolkata right behind, though he is quick to point out how unpredictable Twenty20 cricket can be. "I expected the last team to be successful. The cricketers all underperformed. Call it ill luck. Call it lack of gelling. Everything went wrong."

Kolkata stumbled against Kochi and Royal Challengers at home, but rebounded by beating Delhi Daredevils on Thursday. It was the lesser-known players who shone in the 17-run win: local boy Tiwary top- scored with 61, and Abdulla took three crucial wickets. Adbulla is now their leading wicket-taker this season with eight, the same as Yusuf, who has yet to shine with the bat but has delivered consistently with the ball. Meanwhile Tiwary has 194 runs at 97, just shy of Gambhir, with Kallis a little further ahead, emphasising the depth in this team.

The win over Delhi took Kolkata above Chennai on net run rate and into second place. Rubbing shoulders with the defending champions is a heady place for them to be, and early vindication for stripping the cupboard bare and restocking it.

Tariq Engineer is a senior sub-editor at Cricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • on May 3, 2011, 15:14 GMT

    KKR now Vs KKR (IPL1 , IPL2 ,IPL3 )=Dada & Motivated team. Bunch of shouts arouse saying , just because of Dropping DADA , KKR would fail miserably in IPL4.But ,it happened otherwise, will they be generous enough to accept that dropping DADA gave this result. Gauti is proved to be more technically sound opener(Opens in all form of cricket unlike DADA) , Yet he is willing to come down the Order ,to provide stability for the Team. Have you ever noticed this under Dada's captaincy .Even Dhoni had poor blowing attack (Except Bollinger.Aswin,who came in the later part of the IPL Installments) yet , he proved his presence. So don't support DADA for weak bowling attack he had .Statistics says , he was the highest run getterfor his team, whats the point, you play as a TEAM.Need to motivate.Agreed ,DADA was arguably one of the best captains of India, but that statistics/history cant cover-up or justify his reckless behavior during past IPL. Anyhow , all the best DADA for the come back

  • on May 3, 2011, 13:10 GMT

    Is the article premature..? I sincerely hope they make to the last 4... Having shaken of 'The Tag' KKR should shed their team jersey...its so 'Filmy- Raja-part' Pune with brand new black-outfits are turning out to be the 'Punch-Bag' of IPL-4, although KTK were destined to take up that "job".

  • on May 3, 2011, 8:03 GMT

    With every match, the team that was the butt of 90 percent of all jokes in IPL seasons 1-3 has looked more and more solid and assured. Gautam Gambhir has enjoyed the leadership role and ensured that the intensity from his troops never wanes. It has of course helped that his own form has been sparkling and he has been the best batsman in the franchise. However, one man alone can seldom carry a franchise (ask Shaun Marsh) and Gambhir has had wonderful support. Manoj Tiwary has finally started playing the way everyone expected him to, with some remarkably calm-headed batting. Jacques Kallis started the tournament well, has fallen off a bit, but will be hungry to replicate his early successes. Iqbal Abdullah and Yusuf Pathan have been revelations with the ball - both have gone at under six runs an over and are Kolkata's leading wicket-takers. Now if only Brett Lee added wickets to his name alongwith his accurate bowling and athletic fielding, Kolkata would have a full hand.

  • BONG_IN_CHENNAI on May 3, 2011, 4:35 GMT

    Yes, But it was Ganguly himself who selected that team, instructing Joy and SRK ro get players from auction, all of those who will listen to him.

    Three years back, an article specified that none of the then Indian team members want to play under SG in KKR. The story of Ishant turning from Hero to ZERO is a classic example of what the others feared and prayed to avoid the DRAMATIST.

  • JoydeepGupta on May 2, 2011, 16:58 GMT

    what do you mean by "Ganguly's quarrels with Buchanan and Brendon McCullum"...You've got it all wrong..this is not the way you write about a legend like Ganguly..Give credit to the man who won so many matches for KKR, and look at the team he had - akash chopra,agarkar,pujara,taibu,owasis shah...the list is long...!!

  • googletalk on May 2, 2011, 8:57 GMT

    @ Sohel Rahman: you are deluded. Shakib is currently No. 2 allrounder in ICC ranking just after Watson. Actually he had been at no.1 for more than two years. Did you actually watch any of KKR match? Shakib asked to bowl whenever tough going for bowlers. And I guess he is among top 10 wicket taker eventhough just played 4-5 matches out of 9. Read your post by yourself first before posting for others to read.

  • on May 2, 2011, 8:06 GMT

    A KKR team without Sourav Ganguly is always up for questions by his legion of die-hards, and the scrutiny is never more intense than it is in the cauldron called Eden. Coming into the cacophony of the most opinionated fans in the country can be a nerve wracking experience here. Fear of failure is a demon the home team will always have to slay. But so far they have done good under the bold and dutiful Gambhir and looking like a close knit unit as compared to the previous editions where they were treated as Paupers by just everybody. Leaders must foster the process of renewal; they must challenge the status quo, particularly where the old solutions are inappropriate to the new problems. By not retaining the old baggage, Venky Mysore have done exactly that. He did not want the present squad to be haunted by the ghost of the past.

  • on May 2, 2011, 7:52 GMT

    kkr think-tank has done most of the thing right this season starting from the auction. they have gone for utility player rather than fancied name. it is important that we play good cricket and the result would come automatically in place. in the last three edition kkr were treated as pauper just by everybody. this year all the teams facing kkr are showing lot of respect for them which was missing earlier. the only blemish is the notorious slow and low eden pitch which is not conducive for good cricket and the ball is turning square from the onset. if the kkr think-tank can take of this then we can expect scene-setting cricket. the bottomline is playing good competitive cricket is important which we didn't do in the past and most of the time surrendered meekly to the opponents and the performances were laughable and disgraceful to say the least

  • mishu_bd on May 2, 2011, 5:38 GMT

    @Sohel Rahman So why Shakib has been taken in IPL , while he is not from high ranking cricket nations? Listen success is not permenant. None will stay in top position forever.. Once Bangladesh will place in top position..

  • BONG_IN_CHENNAI on May 2, 2011, 5:19 GMT

    So, finaly he left the BEHALA CHOW-RASTA and landed in EDEN.

    lets hope he left back that luck and all -ve STARS, which he used to carry last 3 years. Venky has invited him to KKR box and he assured to be there next match.

    OMG !!!!!! - GOD save KKR - hope we do not start to only look down from the current 2nd position (May 02, 2011). Those bad day-horror dreams are coming back - OH NOOOOOOOOOOO.

  • on May 3, 2011, 15:14 GMT

    KKR now Vs KKR (IPL1 , IPL2 ,IPL3 )=Dada & Motivated team. Bunch of shouts arouse saying , just because of Dropping DADA , KKR would fail miserably in IPL4.But ,it happened otherwise, will they be generous enough to accept that dropping DADA gave this result. Gauti is proved to be more technically sound opener(Opens in all form of cricket unlike DADA) , Yet he is willing to come down the Order ,to provide stability for the Team. Have you ever noticed this under Dada's captaincy .Even Dhoni had poor blowing attack (Except Bollinger.Aswin,who came in the later part of the IPL Installments) yet , he proved his presence. So don't support DADA for weak bowling attack he had .Statistics says , he was the highest run getterfor his team, whats the point, you play as a TEAM.Need to motivate.Agreed ,DADA was arguably one of the best captains of India, but that statistics/history cant cover-up or justify his reckless behavior during past IPL. Anyhow , all the best DADA for the come back

  • on May 3, 2011, 13:10 GMT

    Is the article premature..? I sincerely hope they make to the last 4... Having shaken of 'The Tag' KKR should shed their team jersey...its so 'Filmy- Raja-part' Pune with brand new black-outfits are turning out to be the 'Punch-Bag' of IPL-4, although KTK were destined to take up that "job".

  • on May 3, 2011, 8:03 GMT

    With every match, the team that was the butt of 90 percent of all jokes in IPL seasons 1-3 has looked more and more solid and assured. Gautam Gambhir has enjoyed the leadership role and ensured that the intensity from his troops never wanes. It has of course helped that his own form has been sparkling and he has been the best batsman in the franchise. However, one man alone can seldom carry a franchise (ask Shaun Marsh) and Gambhir has had wonderful support. Manoj Tiwary has finally started playing the way everyone expected him to, with some remarkably calm-headed batting. Jacques Kallis started the tournament well, has fallen off a bit, but will be hungry to replicate his early successes. Iqbal Abdullah and Yusuf Pathan have been revelations with the ball - both have gone at under six runs an over and are Kolkata's leading wicket-takers. Now if only Brett Lee added wickets to his name alongwith his accurate bowling and athletic fielding, Kolkata would have a full hand.

  • BONG_IN_CHENNAI on May 3, 2011, 4:35 GMT

    Yes, But it was Ganguly himself who selected that team, instructing Joy and SRK ro get players from auction, all of those who will listen to him.

    Three years back, an article specified that none of the then Indian team members want to play under SG in KKR. The story of Ishant turning from Hero to ZERO is a classic example of what the others feared and prayed to avoid the DRAMATIST.

  • JoydeepGupta on May 2, 2011, 16:58 GMT

    what do you mean by "Ganguly's quarrels with Buchanan and Brendon McCullum"...You've got it all wrong..this is not the way you write about a legend like Ganguly..Give credit to the man who won so many matches for KKR, and look at the team he had - akash chopra,agarkar,pujara,taibu,owasis shah...the list is long...!!

  • googletalk on May 2, 2011, 8:57 GMT

    @ Sohel Rahman: you are deluded. Shakib is currently No. 2 allrounder in ICC ranking just after Watson. Actually he had been at no.1 for more than two years. Did you actually watch any of KKR match? Shakib asked to bowl whenever tough going for bowlers. And I guess he is among top 10 wicket taker eventhough just played 4-5 matches out of 9. Read your post by yourself first before posting for others to read.

  • on May 2, 2011, 8:06 GMT

    A KKR team without Sourav Ganguly is always up for questions by his legion of die-hards, and the scrutiny is never more intense than it is in the cauldron called Eden. Coming into the cacophony of the most opinionated fans in the country can be a nerve wracking experience here. Fear of failure is a demon the home team will always have to slay. But so far they have done good under the bold and dutiful Gambhir and looking like a close knit unit as compared to the previous editions where they were treated as Paupers by just everybody. Leaders must foster the process of renewal; they must challenge the status quo, particularly where the old solutions are inappropriate to the new problems. By not retaining the old baggage, Venky Mysore have done exactly that. He did not want the present squad to be haunted by the ghost of the past.

  • on May 2, 2011, 7:52 GMT

    kkr think-tank has done most of the thing right this season starting from the auction. they have gone for utility player rather than fancied name. it is important that we play good cricket and the result would come automatically in place. in the last three edition kkr were treated as pauper just by everybody. this year all the teams facing kkr are showing lot of respect for them which was missing earlier. the only blemish is the notorious slow and low eden pitch which is not conducive for good cricket and the ball is turning square from the onset. if the kkr think-tank can take of this then we can expect scene-setting cricket. the bottomline is playing good competitive cricket is important which we didn't do in the past and most of the time surrendered meekly to the opponents and the performances were laughable and disgraceful to say the least

  • mishu_bd on May 2, 2011, 5:38 GMT

    @Sohel Rahman So why Shakib has been taken in IPL , while he is not from high ranking cricket nations? Listen success is not permenant. None will stay in top position forever.. Once Bangladesh will place in top position..

  • BONG_IN_CHENNAI on May 2, 2011, 5:19 GMT

    So, finaly he left the BEHALA CHOW-RASTA and landed in EDEN.

    lets hope he left back that luck and all -ve STARS, which he used to carry last 3 years. Venky has invited him to KKR box and he assured to be there next match.

    OMG !!!!!! - GOD save KKR - hope we do not start to only look down from the current 2nd position (May 02, 2011). Those bad day-horror dreams are coming back - OH NOOOOOOOOOOO.

  • My-Name-is-Shan on May 1, 2011, 18:55 GMT

    Admire the way the KKR management went for auction. Myself being a kochi'ite, wished KTK mgmt had put 1/100th effort KKR had put before auction.

  • Moyeen on May 1, 2011, 17:45 GMT

    KKR has some really solid talent, both INt'l and local. As a Bangladehi, I only have one issue. Shakib took 7 wickets in 3 matches and on the fourth one, faced an unstoppable Gayle. While mentioning the 8 wickets by Adbulla (that's how he spelled it) and Yusuf, Shakib could have been mentioned a well. Anywho, best wishes for SRK and KKR.

  • bobbo2 on May 1, 2011, 15:10 GMT

    Can the IPL be finished soon so we can get on with real cricket? I LOVE cricket but the IPL doesn't interest me in the slightest.

    I would rather watch 4th grade club teams play than sit through an IPL match.

  • rohanblue on May 1, 2011, 15:05 GMT

    love to see srk smiling, keep smiling srk, remember whenever u look sad, it hurts millions of your fans like me, hopefully we r going 2l qualify fr the semis this time, like srk always say " inshaallah"

  • on May 1, 2011, 13:22 GMT

    The most important factor about KKR this time is they got rid of hindrances and have got their key areas well and adequately covered.

    Coach:- Whatmore can any franchise want? Captain - Gambhir; head and shoulders above many, third best at the moment. Very astute strategist and a likeable leader. Bowling Coach - Wasim, the best in business, only Venkatesh comes close.

    They have put thought in building the team. Kallis, Shakib, Lee and Eoin are good investments, and now priceless Boucher joins in lieu of Haddin.

    Tiwary, Pathan, Abdulla, Balaji combine skills and temperament and are turning out to be gold mines.

    I am totally convinced KKR will be in the top 4 and have enough potential and the staying power to actually win this IPL.

  • lucy82 on May 1, 2011, 11:39 GMT

    'Neither Morgan nor ten Doeschate offer anything to the team' - Arif Hussain. Are you for real? Two quality batsmen like that down at 6 and 7 gettting rusty and not getting a look in, because the top order are too strong. What exactly do you expect them to do? Both these lads are match winners. KKR stuck with Morgan because, unlike armchair fans, they know quality. They knew he needed to face a few balls to get some form back. They sent him to open and he showed what he's capable of. Now he'll have some confidence back and that will really help him. Gambhir is showing what a great captain he is, he doesn't just drop talent, he gives them time.

  • on May 1, 2011, 8:26 GMT

    @mishu_bd: What you expect from Shakib? You want to see him as a star in IPL! Already he got too much exposure after 3 games and that is not good for IPL. Star for IPL should be from high ranking cricket nations, not from a cricket minnow like Bangladesh. Writer has implied hints in his wrting about Shakib like that.

  • krazzyking on May 1, 2011, 8:22 GMT

    MI remains the team to beat

  • Street_Hawk on May 1, 2011, 7:56 GMT

    I think people who are saying Ganguly was the leading run scorer etc. etc. should listen to what SRK said today...he said he does not mind his team losing matches as long as they play together as a team..

    Look at the atmosphere at KKR last 3 season..when dada was in team, there was always controversy..It's not like KKR did not have good team past season..McCullum, Gayle, Bond, Tiwary, Dada, Kartik, Hussey..Problem was nobody was firing..Ganguly can't shake off his responsibility..the atmosphere around KKR was not conducive to play good cricket..Iqbal Abdulla did not get many chances..batting order was random..look at the same Gayle, McCullum is performing this year..I am not saying it's all Ganguly's fault but one can't deny the amount of politics he brought in the team and the atmosphere of fear..and Buchanan of course ruined KKR in IPL 2..

  • master_team on May 1, 2011, 7:30 GMT

    KKR rockzzzzzzzz KKR will be champion of IPL 2011

  • azadalam81 on May 1, 2011, 7:23 GMT

    if dada is in this kkr team could be better than this kkr team. I am a great fan of dada and king khan. But without dada i have no spot for khan.

  • on May 1, 2011, 7:08 GMT

    As a Bangladeshi, I don't care whether Shakib play or not. As long as his team wins every game and he becomes a part of the champion team, that is enough for me. It's a team game, not a individual one like lawn tennis (single).

  • SHANEDAPPAL on May 1, 2011, 6:27 GMT

    i like the way KKR doing in the ground me too a new fan of KKR ( i'm from kerala last 3 season i was with rajasthan royal) bcoz of gambir, pathan,kallis, watmore and akram. i'm here as a kolkatha fan. its a great coaching staff. ITS THE TIME FOR KKR AND ITS THE TIME FOR GAUTI AND PATHAN.

  • on May 1, 2011, 6:22 GMT

    @SupertrampSMS: eat your words mate... we are already rocking the IPL points table... and we will win the IPL and shut everybody mouth...

  • _NEUTRAL_Fan_ on May 1, 2011, 4:58 GMT

    lol@tahseenfung. What is your problem? Kallis is the best all-rounder probably since Sobers and definitely since Imran Khan. So complaining about a minor statement is quite ridiculous to be honest.

  • gannyboy on May 1, 2011, 2:26 GMT

    The team is performing well because finally there domestic players have started to perform how well have Balaji ,Tiwary and Abdullah performed for the KKR this season. Hope to see Balaji and Abdullah in the WI tour.

  • on May 1, 2011, 1:50 GMT

    @tahseenfung - I think the writer meant there are two quality all rounders in the team - Kallis is one and Shakib is the other.

  • rifat1982 on April 30, 2011, 23:48 GMT

    KKR has all the potentials to become the Champion of this year's IPL tournament.The writer of this article has rightly pointed out that KKR is well-organised and well-run team this year.

  • bheekuchatri on April 30, 2011, 22:36 GMT

    Ganguly is a sharp double edged sword. The qualities which make him a great leader also lead to his downfall. I really get mixed feelings when i think of him. I am new fan of KKR (a default fan of Deccan Chargers !) esp. because of Gambhir, and the aggression he brings in. I think they are winning because as a team they have nothing but cricket in mind.

  • on April 30, 2011, 19:19 GMT

    They argue that Shakib has to compete against Eoin Morgan and Ryan ten Doeschate. Neither Morgan nor ten Doeschate offer anything to the team.

    KKR has a long batting line-up. Do they really need ten Doeschate? Shakib has a lot to offer with the ball. He batted once and failed but they should give him more chances. Has KKR forgotten the wickets he got?

    Shakib or not, KKR should pick another bowler in the place of Eoin Morgan or Ryan ten Doeschate.

  • on April 30, 2011, 18:56 GMT

    @venkatraman83: u r unnecessarily trying to make an escape goat out of sourav ganguly......if his presence was the real reason for the team's downfall then may be only u can tell how the Indian team reached the 2003 WC final...don't put the enite blame on that man dude...!!!!!

  • on April 30, 2011, 18:49 GMT

    Although I am not a great fan of of Shahrukh Khan, I am very happy for the people of Kolkata. Finally, the have a team which has started giving them the results they deserve. Mr Engineer each of your following observations is objective and makes sense: *Ganguly's quarrels with Buchanan and Brendon McCullum *and a 40-year Ganguly was always going to be a risk* Gambhir's leadership seems to have brought a quiet calm that was missing during Ganguly's tumultuous reign. However, in spite of their team topping the table for the first time in four years, I am sure the chest beating, Dada worshipping bhadralok will be baying for your blood. These are the same folks who were praying for India's loss at Eden just because their Dada was dropped. Thankfully, Ganguly himself seems to have put all the acrimony behind him. It was good to see him in the stands today, sitting with other fans (not in a hospitality box) and cheering the team which bears the name of his city.

  • on April 30, 2011, 18:45 GMT

    KKR won todays match..so as far as it goes well no complaints on Mr. Venky..good job till u make it to the finals..else again the gun wil be pointed..this the the head will be different..

  • tahseenfung on April 30, 2011, 18:44 GMT

    Sakib is second "quality all rounder in the team" or "second quality all rounder"? Please explain... Even second "quality all rounder in the team" is harsh on him. May we help you to recollect that he had been crowned as a top all rounder by ICC for such a long time. If you say "second quality all rounder".. really shame on you & your cricket knowledge.

  • on April 30, 2011, 17:48 GMT

    Congrats Sharuf khan for ur teams sucesses

  • on April 30, 2011, 15:16 GMT

    To people offended by the reference to Shakib as "a second quality all-rounder": I think what the writer meant is that Shakib is ALSO a quality all-rounder (along with Kallis). In other words, "second" qualifies "all-rounder," not "quality."

  • Unmesh_cric on April 30, 2011, 13:54 GMT

    I agree somewhat with Emancipator007 & others. The author is unnecessarily blaming Ganguly. In the first season of IPL (2008), Kolkata did not have good domestic talent, especially in batting. And if I remember correctly McCullum and Gayle weren't there for the whole season. It was only Ganguly and David Hussey who carried the team (anybody remembers Ganguly's brilliant knock in a tense chase against Punjab that season?). I would say they did pretty okay that season given the resources. In 2009, Ganguly wasn't the captain. And they were everybody's whipping boys that season. In 2010, they had good domestic talent and they did pretty well. They were in contention for the semi-finals and just missed out. And remember, this year KKR are not already in semi-finals! On the whole, Ganguly did a good job with the team he had..do not put the blame on him!

  • on April 30, 2011, 13:52 GMT

    Good article. But You should write more about Sakib Al Hasan. Sakib is one of the important player of KKR. He is a loading wicket taker.

    One more thing, KKR should have to play Sakib all the game. Because He takes wicket regularly. Though KKR won the last match, they should have to play Sakib at that match. Morgan is totally flop player.I don't understand why team management does play him in every match.

  • jonesy2 on April 30, 2011, 13:34 GMT

    2 words are responsible for any kolkata success: brett lee

  • on April 30, 2011, 13:19 GMT

    @mishu_bd By second I think he meant another. He has been proving his value with the wickets.

    And most of the middle/lower middle havent got much opportunities to get runs because of the top start for Kolkata.

  • banter123 on April 30, 2011, 12:31 GMT

    The case of studying body language of people in the auction was interesting.Kolkatta surely does look a good well balanced side than what we have seen in the past.I do admire Ganguly's attitude to face up the opponents and teaching the Indian team to win overseas but somehow he lacked the charisma in a T20 match. If KKR can scrap the way to first four or 1 match swing's depending upon their run rate could help them put the one step on the throne,it would be a well good example of learning from your mistakes.

  • mishu_bd on April 30, 2011, 10:12 GMT

    If Shakib Al Hasan is a second quality allrounder, so why ICC ranked a second quality allrounder as a number 1 allrouder last couple of year? Mr Tariq Engineer, can you please explain it?

  • Emancipator007 on April 30, 2011, 9:49 GMT

    I detect a somewhat deliberate attempt to malign Gang's role and contribution to KKR (look at Manjrekar talking about Gambhir's captaincy influence when he did not bother to talk about his captaincy for DD last season). Last season, the team won 7 matches, lost 1 to a Mahela classic blinder (much like the World Cup 2011 knock) and atleast 2 to Ishant's rubbish T20 bowling.KKR was the leader during the first quarter of the season last time too and just missed the knockout stage. Luck and momentum seems to be the pattern for all 4 IPL seasons (otherwise how did Gayle and McCullum underperform last time while doing well this time). Else Deccan's 2008 team (with Symonds, Gilly, Rohit,Afridi, Singh, Rao, Ojha) would have won all IPL titles. Only settled teams like MI and Chennai have been doing consistently for the past 2 seasons. Gang might have been forced to move on; so let it lie and KKR team has more firepower this time.

  • venkatraman83 on April 30, 2011, 9:40 GMT

    Thanks to Saurav Ganguly for this spectacular turn around.It has clearly proved that Dada wont suit for this format of game where you need to gel as a unit for win.His aggressive character and his superiority attitude has let the KKR to down fall for the last 3 yrs and I really hope this KKR team will rock from now on.Adding to this, one can clearly see the difference in Gayle when he plays for RCB and he seems to enjoy more and play well for RCB which was completly missing when he was under dada for KKR.Cheers KKR!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Y2SJ on April 30, 2011, 9:18 GMT

    KKR has been very good this year. Hope they get a Semifinal berth.

  • on April 30, 2011, 9:08 GMT

    Saib Al Hasan is a second quality all rounder? what a joke to talk about the worlds no one all rounder !! Mr tariq what were you thinking? !

  • on April 30, 2011, 8:28 GMT

    Just a point here.... last year four teams hand 7 win and 7 losses record and Kolkata Knight Riders was was placed 6th with 7/7 record due to net run rate, which was negative. We can't really say that KKR was every teams favourite whipping boy. This year KKR is yet to look comfortable. The loss to Kochi was a sign of weak nerves, but again they came up a with gutsy against DD, with Bret Lee showing what cricketing brain is all about. It is too early to tell. Chris Gayle never played an innings of any value barring the one against KXII Punjab, which KKR lost due to a superb Mahela performance

  • Sachinist_by_Nature on April 30, 2011, 8:15 GMT

    Manoj Tiwary .. ''lesser known''? :O

  • on April 30, 2011, 7:57 GMT

    I am a bangalorean and i am not happy with the decision of Mr Venky Mysore for talking such an harsh decision against Ganguly. He was the leading run scorer for KKR in first 3 IPL and has been match winner for most of the times. In the first season,. if sourav would have had the best team then he would have done the desire things for kKR.. This time they have shakib and kallis as all rounders and brett lee abdulla and balaji as best bowlers. tell me one thing that did KKR had best team in first 3 seasons. agarkar ishanth sharma murali karthik ??????? No all rounders at all..still KKR performce was good in 2010 with 7 wins and 7 losses...problem was NRR and they lost the match to punjab when they score 200 runs on the board..that was the real turning point......

    Mr Venky you should be ashamed for such an hardsh decision takne against ganguly..all though his performace was good enough u sacked him....

  • SupertrampSMS on April 30, 2011, 7:37 GMT

    Ha ha..Mark my words..fourth consecutive first round exit on the cards for KKR.Can't see them making it to the play offs.KKR is similar to SRK movies.Loads of star power,yet very low in terms of quality and performance.Feeling bad for Gauti,Yusuf,RTD and Brett.

  • mitgop11 on April 30, 2011, 7:11 GMT

    pouring sixty percent of the money on three players is a huge gamble. I am not a great fan of Gmabhir's T20 and captaincy skills and Yousuf Pathan's innings is a lottery most of the times. the gamble has worked in KKR's favour so far. But, only just. What if one, if not two, of them get injured mid way ? and all other members of the team are not any different from other teams anyway. Seven games is too soon to judge KKR's revival. The tournament is played over 14 games. So, let's just wait and see what KKR can do this time.

  • on April 30, 2011, 5:51 GMT

    I AM lovin it.........oh...yessss!!

  • BONG_IN_CHENNAI on April 30, 2011, 5:47 GMT

    Venky must be given all the credit for his effort, even if we do not qualify for Quarters this time. Lets see if we finish 5th - higher than the last 3 times.

    If the team remains below 4th rank in all next 3 IPL editions, we need to worry. So lets give time and see. Also credit must also go to SRK to shield Venky against the FANATIC BEHALA associations.

  • BONG_IN_CHENNAI on April 30, 2011, 5:43 GMT

    Well written TARIQ, sir.

    the only thing, which U cannot predict, analyze and write in details is: LUCK. That was not with MAHARAJ, and so far is IN & OUT with Gambhir. IF a few things - Pathan's BAT, another finisher like Bouher in place of Morgan comes in, LADY LUCK may shine on us.

    I expected a few words about the unique pitch (within all others in IPL4) being made my Mukherjee (?)-dada, which is running against KKR. He listens to only one guy - no NOT DALMIA, but the great one who lives near BEHALA Sporting club.

  • on April 30, 2011, 3:38 GMT

    This IPL is all about how good is your strategy is in each individual game. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't. i think kolkata has now many fresh young star as well as experienced player who are capable of fighting in tense situation. All are proven and executed well when team demands.

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  • on April 30, 2011, 3:38 GMT

    This IPL is all about how good is your strategy is in each individual game. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't. i think kolkata has now many fresh young star as well as experienced player who are capable of fighting in tense situation. All are proven and executed well when team demands.

  • BONG_IN_CHENNAI on April 30, 2011, 5:43 GMT

    Well written TARIQ, sir.

    the only thing, which U cannot predict, analyze and write in details is: LUCK. That was not with MAHARAJ, and so far is IN & OUT with Gambhir. IF a few things - Pathan's BAT, another finisher like Bouher in place of Morgan comes in, LADY LUCK may shine on us.

    I expected a few words about the unique pitch (within all others in IPL4) being made my Mukherjee (?)-dada, which is running against KKR. He listens to only one guy - no NOT DALMIA, but the great one who lives near BEHALA Sporting club.

  • BONG_IN_CHENNAI on April 30, 2011, 5:47 GMT

    Venky must be given all the credit for his effort, even if we do not qualify for Quarters this time. Lets see if we finish 5th - higher than the last 3 times.

    If the team remains below 4th rank in all next 3 IPL editions, we need to worry. So lets give time and see. Also credit must also go to SRK to shield Venky against the FANATIC BEHALA associations.

  • on April 30, 2011, 5:51 GMT

    I AM lovin it.........oh...yessss!!

  • mitgop11 on April 30, 2011, 7:11 GMT

    pouring sixty percent of the money on three players is a huge gamble. I am not a great fan of Gmabhir's T20 and captaincy skills and Yousuf Pathan's innings is a lottery most of the times. the gamble has worked in KKR's favour so far. But, only just. What if one, if not two, of them get injured mid way ? and all other members of the team are not any different from other teams anyway. Seven games is too soon to judge KKR's revival. The tournament is played over 14 games. So, let's just wait and see what KKR can do this time.

  • SupertrampSMS on April 30, 2011, 7:37 GMT

    Ha ha..Mark my words..fourth consecutive first round exit on the cards for KKR.Can't see them making it to the play offs.KKR is similar to SRK movies.Loads of star power,yet very low in terms of quality and performance.Feeling bad for Gauti,Yusuf,RTD and Brett.

  • on April 30, 2011, 7:57 GMT

    I am a bangalorean and i am not happy with the decision of Mr Venky Mysore for talking such an harsh decision against Ganguly. He was the leading run scorer for KKR in first 3 IPL and has been match winner for most of the times. In the first season,. if sourav would have had the best team then he would have done the desire things for kKR.. This time they have shakib and kallis as all rounders and brett lee abdulla and balaji as best bowlers. tell me one thing that did KKR had best team in first 3 seasons. agarkar ishanth sharma murali karthik ??????? No all rounders at all..still KKR performce was good in 2010 with 7 wins and 7 losses...problem was NRR and they lost the match to punjab when they score 200 runs on the board..that was the real turning point......

    Mr Venky you should be ashamed for such an hardsh decision takne against ganguly..all though his performace was good enough u sacked him....

  • Sachinist_by_Nature on April 30, 2011, 8:15 GMT

    Manoj Tiwary .. ''lesser known''? :O

  • on April 30, 2011, 8:28 GMT

    Just a point here.... last year four teams hand 7 win and 7 losses record and Kolkata Knight Riders was was placed 6th with 7/7 record due to net run rate, which was negative. We can't really say that KKR was every teams favourite whipping boy. This year KKR is yet to look comfortable. The loss to Kochi was a sign of weak nerves, but again they came up a with gutsy against DD, with Bret Lee showing what cricketing brain is all about. It is too early to tell. Chris Gayle never played an innings of any value barring the one against KXII Punjab, which KKR lost due to a superb Mahela performance

  • on April 30, 2011, 9:08 GMT

    Saib Al Hasan is a second quality all rounder? what a joke to talk about the worlds no one all rounder !! Mr tariq what were you thinking? !