Kolkata Knight Riders
Captain: Eoin Morgan
Coach: Brendon McCullum
Home ground: Eden Gardens, Kolkata
IPL titles: 2 (2012, 2014)
Owners: Red Chillies Entertainment, Mehta Group

One of three teams to have won more than one IPL title, KKR are owned by actors Shah Rukh Khan and Juhi Chawla and Chawla’s husband Jay Mehta. The franchise was bought for about Rs 262.5 crore (about US$75.09 million) in 2008 and has been one of the tournament’s most popular teams.

History

Under Sourav Ganguly and then Brendon McCullum, Knight Riders’ first three years were forgettable. They had the likes of Ricky Ponting, Chris Gayle and (briefly) Shoaib Akhtar alongside promising young Indian bowlers like Ishant Sharma and Iqbal Abdulla, but the highest they finished in the first three seasons was sixth.

In 2011, KKR made their first playoffs under Gautam Gambhir. Yusuf Pathan became a key member of the side, along with Jacques Kallis. In 2012, KKR won their first title, thanks in part to new signings Sunil Narine and Robin Uthappa. They won the title in 2014 again - the first season with Andre Russell in their ranks. The next three years were full of promise but failed to earn KKR another title, and Gambhir was not retained ahead of the 2018 auction.

In Dinesh Karthik’s debut season as captain, 2018, KKR finished in third place. Midway through the 2020 IPL, Karthik stepped down, handing the reins to Eoin Morgan, who took the side to their third final in the following season.

The highs

KKR’s two titles in three years remain their zenith. The first win, in 2012, was a landmark because of how poorly the team had fared in the first four seasons. The win in 2014, when they won chasing 200, against Kings XI Punjab, cemented that year’s squad as legends forever.

The lows

The dream of a fairy tale under Ganguly did not come true, and there was conflict between him and coach John Buchanan, whose multiple-captains strategy was criticised, especially after the team’s fortunes sank further. The omission of Ganguly ahead of 2011 threatened to ruin Kolkata’s love for KKR, and the ruckus over the Fake IPL player (an anonymous blogger who appeared to have inside information) in the early years made them the butt of jokes as well.

Season by season
2008 - sixth

McCullum’s 158 not out in the tournament opener made it seem like KKR were the team to beat in the new league, but four straight losses put that start to waste and, despite two Player-of-the-Match performances from Ganguly and a demolition of Delhi Daredevils by Shoaib, the team finished with three losses at the end of the season.

2009 - eighth

A Super-Over loss in their third game began a string of eight defeats in a row that broke KKR’s back. After 12 games they had won just one solitary match, and if it wasn’t for their two wins in their last two games, they might have had the worst season of any team in the history of franchise cricket.

2010 - sixth

Ganguly was retained as captain despite two poor seasons, and he scored 493 runs, but the rest of the team did not hit the heights. They lost a heap of games in the first half of the tournament and though they tied on 14 points with the teams in third, fourth and fifth places, their poor net run rate cost them a playoff spot.

2011 - fourth

A new-look KKR set out to change the team’s fortunes, and they qualified for the playoffs for the first time. KKR’s faith in the Indian talent they had bought, along with new captain Gambhir, was rewarded, with spinner Abdulla, fast bowler L Balaji, and middle-order batters Pathan and Manoj Tiwary producing match-winning performances.

2012 - champions

KKR’s first title came under Gambhir and new coach Trevor Bayliss, who replaced Dav Whatmore. Two losses to begin, then two wins, a loss, six straight victories, two losses, and finally two wins, meant they finished the league stage second. In the final, Manvinder Bisla’s 89 helped KKR chase a tricky 191.

2013 - seventh

A forgettable season, sandwiched between two superb years. Narine topped the KKR bowling charts this year and the next, and Gambhir was flawless with the bat, but they couldn’t extract contributions from the others. Kallis, although good, was not consistent, and KKR lost ten of their 16 league games.

2014 - champions

Having lost five of their first seven games, KKR seemed destined for an early exit, but a streak of nine wins in a row handed them a second title. Gambhir and Uthappa’s partnerships set KKR up for breezy finishes, which Pathan usually provided. Kuldeep Yadav and Kallis put in regular contributions too. In the final, Manish Pandey’s 94 helped KKR chase 200 for the title.

2015 - fifth

Russell struck three fifties but the season belonged to KKR’s bowlers. Morne Morkel handed KKR a rare win over Mumbai, Umesh Yadav played match-winner twice, and Piyush Chawla’s four-wicket haul dismantled Delhi Daredevils. KKR had to win one of their last two league games to qualify, but they faltered in both, losing to Mumbai and Royals.

2016 - fourth

Russell’s domination continued: he earned three Player-of-the-Match awards, and Pathan two as KKR qualified for the playoffs. There, they were knocked out in the eliminator by Sunrisers. It was Kallis’ first of three seasons as coach.

2017 - third

Lynn’s and Narine’s big-hitting at the top, followed by accumulative performances from Gambhir and Uthappa, put KKR on course for a third title when they won seven of their first nine games, but their performances tapered away and they were knocked out in the qualifier, after being bowled out for 107. (Russell was not available - he was serving a ban.)

2018 - third

KKR batted aggressively, using the power of Lynn, Narine and Russell to post big totals that would overcome the inexperience of their fast bowlers. Despite batting lower down the order, Karthik was the team’s highest scorer, with 498 runs. KKR beat Rajasthan Royals in the eliminator, but fell one step short of the final, losing to runners-up Sunrisers Hyderabad.

2019 - fifth

They won four of their first five games and then lost six on the trot. When KKR won, it was often thanks to Russell’s heroics with the bat, which earned him four Player-of-the-Match awards. Shubman Gill’s promotion from finisher to opener worked well, and had they won their final game, against Mumbai Indians, KKR would have qualified for the playoffs.

2020 - fifth

Their position on the points table flattered KKR in a tight season where they failed to build any momentum. Narine and Russell were absent for large periods, and under new captain Morgan - who took over after seven games - they lost more games than they won. They discovered a new gem in mystery spinner Varun Chakravarthy, though.

2021 - runner-up

Their India leg was poor, but in the UAE they won seven of nine games to reach the final, despite missing Russell for most of that second leg. Though the senior batters didn’t quite shine, the lesser-known players stood up. Narine regained his bowling mojo after a forgettable 2020. Venkatesh Iyer, the hard-hitting batter and seam bowler, was the find of KKR’s season.

Key players
Gautam Gambhir

KKR’s all-time highest scorer, with 3345 runs, Gambhir made 30 fifties and captained in all of his 122 matches. His aggressive leadership drew praise, and he took KKR to two IPL titles. Gambhir started out playing as an opener but slipped into the middle order to accommodate hard-hitting batters.

Robin Uthappa

For long, Uthappa was the bedrock in the middle order around whom KKR’s big hitters played. The majority of his 17 half-centuries for the side usually led to victories. In his prime, Uthappa’s was the wicket opposition teams looked to get. In KKR’s IPL-winning 2014 season, he scored 40 or more eight matches in a row.

Yusuf Pathan

Pathan was already an IPL winner with Rajasthan Royals when he came to KKR, and he brought the winning mentality with him, playing crucial roles in the side’s two title wins. His cameos as a finisher helped KKR cross the line on many occasions, and his 30 wickets in 56 innings often broke partnerships.

Andre Russell

Russell is Knight Riders’ second-highest wicket-taker, with an economy rate of 6.6, but it is his performances with the bat that are game-changing. His 1700-plus runs have come at a strike rate of over 180, and he is the only KKR batter to have struck 100 sixes.

Sunil Narine

KKR’s most successful bowler by far, mystery spinner Narine has bowled in the powerplay, middle overs, and at the death. Though he has conceded a few more runs than before in the last four years after he remodelled his action, he remains an economical bowler who also bats as a pinch-hitter.

Team records
Highest totals Lowest totals Most runs Most wickets
KKR current squad