Star-studded lineup, prolific skipper and a charismatic owner– Kolkata Knight Riders had everything to clinch the inaugural IPL trophy. With Sourav Ganguly at the helm, KKR had several match-winners like Chris Gayle, Ricky Ponting and Brendon McCullum in their arsenal.
Considering all these factors, the Kolkata franchise was one of the most hyped sides in the IPL 2008. However, KKR failed to live up to the expectations and delivered a lacklustre performance until Gautam Gambhir rose to the occasion and proved his worth.
The franchise went through an overhaul in IPL 2011 and bought Gautam Gambhir on board as their skipper. On top of that, KKR snapped up many stalwarts like Yusuf Pathan, Jacques Kallis and Brett Lee to boost their armoury. Their performance notched up in no time as the franchise clinched their first IPL trophy by defeating CSK in the IPL 2012 final.
Nine years after he was assigned the captaincy duty of KKR, Gambhir revealed what team co-owner Shah Rukh Khan had told him before IPL’s fourth season in 2011.
I promised Shah Rukh Khan that KKR will be in a much better position: Gautam Gambhir
“This is your team, make it or break it, I will not interfere… I just promised him one thing, I don’t know where it’s gonna happen but by the time I leave, whether it’s gonna be three years or six years, this franchise will be in a much better position,” Gambhir said in Star Sports show ‘Cricket Connected’.
Gambhir lived up to his promise as he led the franchise to two IPL titles in 2012 and 2014. KKR is the third most successful franchise in the history of IPL, having won two titles so far. Gambhir’s aggressive captaincy and batting, along with the influx of match-winners like Sunil Narine, Andre Russell and Kuldeep Yadav, steered KKR to new heights.
Gambhir played a pivotal role in KKR’s maiden IPL triumph as he scored 590 runs in 16 matches at a strike rate of 143.55, his best-ever performance in the IPL. Gambhir is also the franchise’s leading run-scorer with 3345 runs in 122 matches.
Gambhir parted ways with KKR when the franchise went through another overhaul ahead of IPL 2018. The left-hander was replaced by India wicketkeeper-batsman Dinesh Karthik, under whom the team finished third in IPL 2018 but failed to qualify for the playoffs in 2019.
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