KKR's Road To IPL 2024: Will Gautam Gambhir's Mentorship End Kolkata Knight Riders' 10-Year Title Drought?

KKR's Road To IPL 2024: Will Gautam Gambhir's Mentorship End Kolkata Knight Riders' 10-Year Title Drought?

Kolkata Knight Riders won the IPL title twice in 2012 and 2014 under the leadership of Gautam Gambhir and his return has provided a significant boost for the team ahead of IPL 2024.

Hrishikesh DamodarUpdated: Sunday, March 17, 2024, 08:47 PM IST
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Kolkata Knight Riders | Credits: Twitter

Kolkata Knight Riders will enter the upcoming Indian Premier League (IPL) 2024 with an aim of ending their 10-year title drought. KKR are the second-most successful team after the powerhouses Chennai Super Kings and Mumbai Indians in the history of IPL, having won the title twice in 2012 and 2014.

After IPL 2014, the coveted trophy has eluded Kolkata Knight Riders. In IPL 2021, under the leadership of Eoin Morgan, KKR reached the IPL final for first time in seven years but lost to 4th time champions Chennai Super Kings.

In the last two IPL seasons, Kolkata Knight Riders failed to qualify for the playoffs. In IPL 2023, the two-time IPL champions suffered a big setback as skipper Shreyas Iyer was ruled out of the tournament due to back injury and Nitish Rana led the side. However, Kolkata Knight Riders finished seventh in the league stage and failed to make it to the playoffs.

In the upcoming IPL season, Kolkata Knight Riders will look to change their results from previous two seasons and win the coveted trophy after 9 years.

How KKR performed at IPL 2024 Auction?

Kolkata Knight Riders grabbed the headlines when they broke the bank for Australian pacer Mitchell Starc at the IPL 2024 Auction in December. The Kolkata-based franchise acquired the services of Starc for a whopping 24.75 crore, making him the most expensive IPL player.

KKR had to face bidding wars from Mumbai Indians, Chennai Super Kings, Royal Challengers Bangalore and Sunrisers Hyderabad to have him on the board. It was expected that the franchises would all out for Mithcell Starc due to his exceptional pace and proven the ability to swing the ball in both ways.

Apart from Mitchell Starc, Kolkata Knight Riders acquired the services of Manish Pandey, Sherfane Rutherford, Chetan Sakariya, KS Bharat, Ramandeep Singh, Mujeeb Rahman, Angkrish Raghuvanshi and Shakib Hussain in order to strengthen their bench ahead of IPL 2024.

The return of Gautam Gambhir

Kolkata Knight Riders received a significant boost ahead of IPL 2024 as former skipper Gautam Gambhir returned to the team as a mentor. Notably, Gambhir is the only winning captain for KKR as he led the team to two title wins in 2012 and 2014.

Having played with Kolkata Knight Riders for seven seasons from 2011 to 2017, Gautam Gambhir might have better understanding of team's dynamics, strategies and challenges, which will help the players to perform at their best. Gambhir is also a tactical genius, especially in crunch situations and it will help coach Chandrakant Pandir and Skipper Shreyas Iyer to make strategic decisions.

Before returning to Kolkata Knight Riders, Gautam Gambhir was part of Lucknow Super Giants as a mentor for two IPL seasons, 2022 and 2023 and was more involved with the team's development and strategic planning during his stint.

Under the mentorship of Gambhir, LSG reached the playoffs in two successive seasons of the tournament. It remains to be whether the former skipper can bring back Kolkata Knight Riders' glory with his mentorship.

Formidable batting line-up for Kolkata Knight Riders

Kolkata Knight Riders are backed by formidable batting line-up for IPL 2024. The team has been equipped with the hard-hitters who can unleash their firepower during any situation of the game. Rahmanullah Gurbaz and Phil Salt can form a strong opening pair at the top.

Venkatesh Iyer can play at the top and provide a strong start for the team. The middle-order will have Nitish Rana, Shreyas Iyer, Rinku Singh and Andre Russell. Rinku was exceptional and was a reliable middle-order batter for KKR in the last IPL season. Skipper Iyer returning for the upcoming IPL 2024 provided a significant boost for the team.

Phil Salt replaced Jason Roy, who ruled out of the tournament due to personal reasons. However, it was a smart decision by Kolkata Knight Riders to bring in Salt as a like-in-like replacement for Jason Roy as it ensures maintaining an aggressive style of batting at the top-order.

Lack of death bowling options

Mitchell Starc can be a reliable death bowler for Kolkata Knight Riders as he has the ability to restrict the flow of runs and take crucial wickets. However, it is very important for him to have a reliable bowling partner, who can shoulder off the pressure at the death.

The youngsters like Chetan Sakariya and Vaibhav Arora are yet to prove their mettle in high-pressure situations but have the potential to grow as the partners for Mitchell Starc in the death overs. Varun Chakravarthy might step up as death bowling for Starc during the upcoming IPL season until Indian bowlers gain confidence in handling high-pressure situations.

Kolkata Knight Riders might have rely on spin bowlers in the middle overs to keep Mitchell Starc for the death overs as Andre Russell hasn't been very impactful in the last IPL season.

What to expect from KKR in IPL 2024?

Kolkata Knight Riders have assembled a balanced squad ahead of IPL 2024, with a mixture and experienced players. The return of Gautam Gambhir and Shreyas Iyer is a significant boost for the side.

However, Kolkata Knight Riders need to get their team combination right, especially pace bowling line-up. Putting pressure on Mitchell Starc won't be enough and backup option is necessary for KKR in pace bowling line-up.

The top and middle orders are looking formidable and the spin bowling attack can pose a threat to opponent's batting line-up on turning pitches. With the right combination, Kolkata Knight Riders can qualify for the playoffs and aim for the third title.

Kolkata Knight Riders will begin their campaign against SunRisers Hyderabad at Eden Gardens Stadium on March 23, Saturday.

KKR squad

Shreyas Iyer (C), Nitish Rana, Rinku Singh, Rahmanullah Gurbaz, Phil Salt, Sunil Narine, Suyash Sharma, Anukul Roy, Andre Russell, Venkatesh Iyer, Harshit Rana, Vaibhav Arora, Varun Chakaravarthy, KS Bharat, Chetan Sakariya, Mitchell Starc, Angkrish Raghuvanshi, Ramandeep Singh, Sherfane Rutherford, Manish Pandey, Mujeeb Ur Rahman, Sakib Hussain. 

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