Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) is one team that has made its presence felt in the Indian Premier League (IPL) since the inception of the tournament in 2008. Co-owned by Shah Rukh Khan, Kolkata Knight Riders have always been in the limelight due to the Bollywood connection. KKR did not have the best of starts to the tournament but slowly picked up, and under the astute captaincy of Gautam Gambhir, they were crowned IPL champions twice – in 2012 and 2014.
Right from the first year, KKR brought the bling and glitz to the IPL. They started strong with Brendon McCullum lighting up the tournament by smashing an unforgettable 158 in the opener against Royal Challengers Bangalore. However, it went all downhill for the Kolkata based franchise thereon.
Kolkata Knight Riders finished sixth in IPL 2008, last in 2009, sixth in 2010, and fourth in 2011. They had all the big-ticket players in their side but could never string in a good team. The captaincy changed hands multiple times from Sourav Ganguly to Brendon McCullum. Off-field controversies also plagued the side to no end.
The Kolkata franchise decided to revamp their squad in 2011 altogether. They handed over the team’s reins to Gautam Gambhir, did not pick Ganguly in the auctions leading to much furore, and brought in an unknown entity in Sunil Narine. All these decisions bore fruit immediately.
Kolkata Knight Riders qualified for the playoffs for the first time in four years and were finally looking like a side that belonged to the stage. Then in 2012, Kolkata defied all odds to beat Chennai Super Kings in the final to lift the IPL trophy. There was yet again a slight dip in 2013 where Kolkata finished seventh, but they came back strong and were crowned champions yet again in IPL 2014.
Kolkata Knight Riders are the only team behind Mumbai Indians and Chennai with more than one IPL title to their name. Here we take a look at the two seasons where Kolkata Knight Riders were crowned winners.
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Indian Premier League 2012
Champions: Kolkata Knight Riders; Runners-Up: Chennai Super Kings
The fifth edition of the IPL was one where Kolkata Knight Riders were at their dominant best. They had a squad like no other with a brilliant mix of youth and experience, and they reigned supreme. Kolkata Knight Riders started their campaign with two successive losses at the hands of Delhi Daredevils (now Delhi Capitals) and Rajasthan Royals. Still, they bounced back strongly as they lost only one of their next ten encounters. Eden Gardens became KKR’s fort, and they began punching way about their weight conquering one team after another. Kolkata Knight Riders finished the group stage second on the points table, just behind Delhi Daredevils.
Another all-round show saw them beat Delhi in Qualifier 1 by 18 runs as they booked a place in the IPL final. In the final, they met Chennai Super Kings, and not many had given Kolkata much of a chance, more so after the men in yellow posted a towering 190/3 batting first. But Manvinder Bisla and Jacques Kallis had other ideas. The duo added 136 runs off just 82 balls for the second wicket to push Kolkata Knight Riders forward. The situation still was tricky, but Shakib Al Hasan and Manoj Tiwary held their nerves to help the side chase down the target with two balls to spare. There was little to separate between the two teams, but Kolkata Knight Rider’s grit came through.
What worked wonders for them was Sunil Narine’s inclusion, who was an unknown entity on the world stage. He finished the tournament as the second highest wicket taker picking 24 wickets in 15 outings. His economy rate of 5.47 is what stood out. Narine was right awarded Player of the Series for his performance. Gautam Gambhir finished as the second highest run scorer in the competition with 590 runs in 17 innings.
Indian Premier League 2014
Champions: Kolkata Knight Riders; Runners-up: Kings XI Punjab
IPL 2013 wasn’t too fruitful for Kolkata Knight Riders, but their fortunes once again changed in 2014. It seemed the stars were aligned for Kolkata. Their 2014 season was quite similar to the one they had in 2012, and they lifted the IPL trophy. The Kolkata-based team started the 2014 season with a win over Mumbai and kept their composure all through the tournament. They had many slower bowlers in their armoury, and the Eden Gardens surface helped them immensely.
Kolkata ended the league stage second on the points table. They then came up against Kings XI Punjab in Qualifier 1 at Eden Gardens. Robin Uthappa and Umesh Yadav were the stars of the show here. KKR romped home to a 28-run win and booked a place in the IPL final for the second time.
The final was held at the M Chinnaswamy cricket stadium, which meant runs would flow in abundance. Sure enough, batting first, Punjab amassed 199/4 with Wriddhiman Saha smoking 115* off 55 balls. The target would have been otherwise daunting, but Kolkata came out all guns blazing.
Manish Pandey was the star of the show as he smashed 94 off 50 balls as Kolkata lifted the IPL trophy for the second time. Gautam Gambhir was once again on point with his captaincy. Robin Uthappa won the orange cap for being the highest run scorer in the season, while Narine, with 21 wickets, was the star for KKR with the ball.
Kolkata haven’t won an IPL trophy since 2014, but they have always been contenders. The squad has also changed quite a bit over the last few years. Eoin Morgan is the KKR captain currently having taken over the reins midway in IPL 2020 from Dinesh Karthik. It’s been a while since KKR won the IPL and their fans will be hoping for a repeat of 2012 and 2014 come IPL 2021.