"One's only rival is one's own potentialities. One's only failure is failing to live up to one's own possibilities. In this sense, every man can be a king, and must therefore be treated like a king." - Abraham Maslow
There’s no other bigger joy in the City of Joy than Durga Puja - the greatest festival for the Bengalis – drums, lightings, crowd, happy faces, you name it and Kolkata like always will deliver you. No other event could come close to the extravagant celebrations during the festival. But one thing that lights up the city like Durga Puja does is cricket at the iconic Eden Gardens.
Eden Gardens, the mecca of Indian Cricket has countless number of tales to recite. The fort of Kolkata Knight Riders in the IPL with rich history and humongous backing from the fanbase. Jam-packed seats, loud chants with trust and loyalty in air – The Eden Gardens never fails to amaze and what occasion is better to showcase it than the carnival of cricket – Indian Premier League.
Owned by none other than the King of Bollywood – Shah Rukh Khan, the royalties and the grandeur of the brand KKR can never be questioned. Amidst their stumbling start in the first couple of years, their brand name was not hampered, neither did the poor show on the filed impacted their name-game off the field.
KKR started their journey pretty poorly but grew in stature after every passing season. The star power of ‘Maharaja of Bengal’ Sourav Ganguly, the ‘Rawalpindi Express’ Shoaib Akhtar and the giants of game Chris Gayle and Brendon McCullum and Ricky Ponting laid the foundations of the Kolkata squad.
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But after three disappointing seasons, the management decided to shake things up and bring some freshness in the squad. Like the Bengali dessert ‘Payesh’ gets better with each cooking-hour, the KKR squad garnered experience and learnt the art and craft of getting it right with each passing season and after four-long seasons of inconsistencies and disappointments, KKR finally kissed that golden trophy in 2012 under the leadership of Delhi boy Gautam Gambhir, followed by another league rout in 2014.
Shaking things up
Regarded as one of the most sought-after franchises, KKR this time around attracted lot of attention. They retained their two West Indian superstars – Sunil Narine and Andre Russel and assembled the smallest squad in the tournament with just 19 players. The team from the land of ‘Roshogulla’ possess plenty weakness which can damage their growing reputation of being a steady squad with fitness of their players being their main topic of concern.
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But the think tank behind assembling the squad knew exactly what they were doing. They needed spinners who could fox the best of the batsmen in the league and got their troika of Narine, Kuldeep Yadav and Piyush Chawla back among their ranks. Services of some top-quality batsmen like Lynn, Uthappa, Nitish Rana and Dinesh Karthik was also attained. Youth being one of the major factors of team behind winning the previous editions of IPL, KKR captured some of the best Indian young talents, with Under 19 World Cup stars Shubman Gill, Kamlesh Nagarkoti, Shivam Mavi being the centre of the limelight.
Sweating over injuries
Injury concerns might give sleepless nights to the coaching staff and the owners with Starc already ruled out from the IPL and Lynn, Russel and Mitchell Johnson among the one termed ‘injury-prone’ given their past records, and the team now relying heavily on them, a single injury could dismantle the tightly knit KKR squad within a blink of an eye.
Like Kolkata’s vast tradition and culture, Knight Riders have different flavours in their squad, with a great mixture of experience, youth and specialists. The squad looks a bit top-heavy, super-bottom heavy and bleak middle-order but if the cards are played to perfection then the fans are in for a treat with lot of surprises.
KKR this season, like every season, aren’t termed favourites with their weaknesses and over reliance on youth, but like recent years they never relied on superstars to create havoc, they have over the years assembled under-rated squads with unbelievable potential and made the most of it.
Dinesh Karthik’s leadership will be one of the key-factors in purple brigade’s fresh journey in the IPL and with some surprise packages in the squad, they can be called the ‘Dark Horses’ this season.
The City of Tram, the City of Victoria Memorial and the City of Joy - Kolkata will again light up the streets with passion, fanaticism and zeal. The amour fou of KKR fans will again burst with loud cheers of ‘KORBO LORBO JEETBO RE’.
Probable playing XI: Shubman Gill, Chris Lynn,Robin Uthappa, Nitish Rana, Dinesh Karthik (C-WK), Sunil Narine, Andre Russell, Piyush Chawla, Kuldeep Yadav, Tom Curran, Kamlesh Nagarkoti