An in-depth critical analysis of Kolkata Knight Riders so far in IPL 2023

An Open Letter To Kolkata Knight Riders 799938

Regarding IPL 2023, very few franchises perhaps enjoy the kind of fan following that KKR wants. CSK will always have a huge fan following in Tamil Nadu because of MS Dhoni. Because of Virat Kohli, RCB will have a huge fan following in Bengaluru. So naturally, all teams will enjoy a humongous local fan following. But perhaps the only team that wants ‘home’ and ‘away’ support to a tremendous extent is Kolkata Knight Riders, and we all know why that happens. Well, it is Bollywood’s beloved Badshah, aka King Khan. From the beginning of the tournament, Kolkata Knight Riders have had a rich history.

In the tournament’s first season, the ‘Prince Of Kolkata’ aka Sourav Ganguly, the local hero of Kolkata, was appointed the captain of the squad. He led the team in 2008 and was dropped from captaincy in 2009, only to return as captain in 2010. After that, he went to Pune Warriors and in 2011, Gautam Gambhir was appointed the captain of the squad. Between 2011 and 2017, the franchise won the trophy twice in 2012 and 2014, and well, the team culture that developed then was simply fantastic. However, a team considered one of the most successful teams of the tournament till about 2017 somehow lost its way after 2018. After Gautam Gambhir decided to move out, names like Dinesh Karthik and Eoin Morgan came into the scenario. Ever since 2018, let’s be very honest, KKR haven’t played great cricket. Yes, in 2021, they did reach the finals out of nowhere. But it was more of a one-person show in the form of Venkatesh Iyer that made it happen. As brutal as it can get, Dinesh Karthik, Eoin Morgan and other senior players can take very little credit for the same.

In the year 2022, hopes were high once again as KKR managed to rope in one of the most talented Indian players in today’s scenario Shreyas Iyer as the captain of the squad. While Shreyas was good enough in bits and pieces last year, the unit failed overall as a squad to bring results for the Kolkata fans. And well, what to say about 2023? The season started on a detailed note for the franchise. Captain Iyer has been missing in action for a long time due to a back injury. The absence of Shreyas Iyer indeed left a massive void in the middle order. Although they always had the ammunition to make it up for Iyer, somehow, their planning has yet to work out.

To begin with, why on Earth will you keep persisting with someone like R. Gurbaz, who doesn’t even understand the ‘c’ of consistency? By now, he’s approached his game so far; he’s just looked like a “wannabe Brendon McCullum” minus Baz’s maturity as a cricketer. There’s no doubt about Gurbaz and his talent. However, at this stage in cricket, you need more than just talent; let’s be honest, he’s played some really crap and brainless shots. In all the games that KKR played this season, Gurbaz has failed massively, resulting in pressure at the top of the order. You must understand that every day, Andre Russell or Rinku Singh can’t win you matches out of impossible situations miraculously.

If we closely analyse the games they played so far, in every match or the other, someone or the other stood up. Whether it was Shardul Thakur’s bravado against RCB or Venkatesh Iyer’s century, or even Rinku Singh’s blistering five sixes in a row in the last over, everything has been seen, yet not collectively. The problem with KKR now seems like they are all playing good cricket, somehow struggling to do it together as a collective unit. But, at the end of the day, it’s a team game, and if all players don’t step up on the given day, they only look like ‘headless chickens’ on the cricket field.

Yes, the much-needed change was done by bringing in Jason Roy and Litton Das at the top of the order in the game against Delhi Capitals. However, going by my ‘very little’ understanding of cricket, it has come too late. So it’s only fair to give Jason and Litton the time and patience they deserve to get things going. A lot of cricket experts feel that the only way Gurbaz blocked the place of an International player and made it to the playing XI is because him being a wicketkeeper. I mean, seriously? In 2023, are we talking about blocking the place of a foreign player in a tournament like this by an average player as of now just because we lack good backup options? Ideally, it was supposed to be the responsibility of the thinktank to predict something like this and get going. However, there was no plan B. What a pain to imagine that you have to go ahead with a player in IPL repeatedly despite not being 100% convinced about his abilities. It’s a sombre and irritating thought at the same time.

As far as positives are concerned, we have some from Kolkata Knight Riders. But they are a few. The biggest positive has to be the way Nitish Rana captained the side. Despite not having much experience, he’s done his best to do aggressive leadership and step up his game whenever required. Admittedly, the results might have gone wrong. But Nitish has led well. The second positive that we can think of is Rinku Singh. What a gem of a player he is. KKR must continue to show faith in him and don’t release him. Otherwise, they might regret the same way they are and should be regretting letting go of players like Shubman Gill and Surya Kumar Yadav in the past. Thirdly, Andre Russell’s batting form has looked decent and going by the skills he’s shown until now; he needs one big inning to explode completely. Last but certainly not least, Venkatesh Iyer. This man has been prolific for the squad since 2021. Despite being unable to do much with his limited opportunities for Team India, he has returned strongly with a bang and how. The fact that he is only the second KKR player after Brendon McCullum in 2008 to score a century for KKR itself is a big giveaway of how KKR’s thinktank has performed over the years.

The tournament is still ongoing, and there can always be miraculous returns. I conclude with this glimmer of hope that the ones who matter in KKR are listening and they will make better choices in the future. Come on, KKR. You have way too many sentiments attached to the results you bring. You can’t take your fans for a ride and for granted. Time to pull up your socks and get things going. Collective efforts will hopefully turn into results soon as well.

About The Author
Subhojit Ghosh

27, Entertainment Anchor, Passionate Writer, Talk-show host and someone who keeps genuine interest in entertainment as an art form. Loves to travel. Talks for a living.