Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) have been one of the most high-profile franchises in the Indian Premier League. Co-owned by the Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan, KKR have enjoyed an immense fan following over the years. Kolkata Knight Riders are also one of the more successful teams with two IPL titles to their name. After the IPL 2022 mega auction, it was decided that Shreyas Iyer will be KKR captain for the season. The batsman was brought for a whopping Rs 12.25 crore by the franchise in the auctions. Here’s a brief history of the teams and KKR captain of yesteryears.
When the Indian Premier League was launched in 2008, the franchisee was given a choice to directly select an ‘Icon Player’. For KKR, the choice was pretty straightforward with none other than the Prince of Kolkata, Sourav Ganguly.
The journey of Kolkata Knight Riders has been interesting over the years. Here we take a look at all the players who have led KKR in IPL history.
Sourav Ganguly (2008 and 2010)
When Ganguly was picked as the ‘Icon Player’ by KKR, it was no surprise that he would lead the team. The expectations were sky high from the former India skipper, who was hailed as India’s most successful captain at that time. But things didn’t work out well for both him and KKR, with plenty of controversies regarding team management.
Despite having a star-studded squad, KKR finished 6th in the inaugural edition of the IPL. The team atmosphere was in shambles as the head coach John Buchanan had deployed a multi-captain strategy. With the relationship between Ganguly and Buchanan getting worse, Ganguly was sacked from the captaincy in the 2009 edition.
Buchanan was sacked from the position of coach after an abysmal 2009 season and Ganguly was reappointed as the skipper once again in the 2010 edition. However it did not change the fortunes of KKR as they failed to qualify for the knockouts for third consecutive year, finishing sixth. After which, KKR parted ways with their Icon Player altogether.
Overall, Ganguly led KKR in 27 matches, out of which they won 13 and lost 14. As a batsman, Ganguly didn’t have great success for KKR either, scoring 1031 runs at an average of 28.6 and strike rate of 110.5.
Brendon McCullum (2009)
The New Zealander set the stage on fire with a blistering knock of 158* in the very first game of the Indian Premier League. As a key part of KKR’s batting unit, Brendon McCullum was quickly included in the leadership group.
In the 2009 edition, McCullum was awarded the captaincy after a controversial fallout between his predecessor Ganguly and coach Buchanan. However, McCullum failed to live upto the expectations and KKR had their worst season till date, finishing with the wooden spoon. As a consequence, McCullum was axed from the captaincy.
Under McCullum, KKR won only three matches, tied one and went through a nine-match losing streak. McCullum failed to do his primary job of batting too, scoring 285 runs in the season at an average of 23.8 and strike rate of 119.2.
Gautam Gambhir (2011-2017)
After three successive season failures, Kolkata Knight Riders completely revamped their squad in the mega auction ahead of the IPL 2011. KKR brought in some big guns in the likes of Brett Lee, Jacques Kallis, Shakib Al Hassan and the most expensive one, Gautam Gambhir, who was bought for a record $2.4 million.
Under Gambhir’s astute leadership, KKR enjoyed their most successful years in the IPL. In the 2011 edition, KKR reached the playoffs for the first time, albeit, lost in the Eliminator to Mumbai Indians. Gambhir’s KKR went further in the next season, where they bagged the second place in the group stages. KKR then defeated Delhi Daredevils in the Qualifier to reach their first IPL final. On May 27, Kolkata Knight Riders lifted their first IPL trophy as they defeated two-time defending champions, Chennai Super Kings.
KKR couldn’t replicate the success in the IPL 2013 as they finished seventh in the points table but made a great comeback in 2014 to win their second IPL title by defeating Kings XI Punjab in the final. For the next three years, KKR had some success, reaching the playoffs twice. Before the 2018 mega auction, Gambhir decided to part ways with KKR.
Overall, Gambhir captained KKR in 121 matches over seven years and is their most successful captain, winning 68 matches. As a batsman, Gambhir enjoyed immense success at KKR, scoring over 3000 runs at an average 31.6 and strike rate of 124.3. Gambhir still remains the leading run-scorer for KKR in the history.
Jacques Kallis (2011)
One of the greatest all-rounders the game has ever seen, Jacques Kallis was an instrumental part of KKR’s twin title victories. In the 2011 Champions League edition, Kallis took the responsibility as a stand-in skipper when Gautam Gambhir was out of action.
Kallis captained KKR in two matches against Auckland and Somerset, winning one of those. As a player, he had 1295 runs and 42 wickets for KKR.
Dinesh Karthik (2018-2020)
After Gambhir’s exit from the franchise, KKR needed a captain desperately and signed Dinesh Karthik for 7.6 crores. Despite no prior experience of leading an IPL team, Karthik did a decent job and took them to the playoffs in IPL 2018.
Things went for the Tamil Nadu wicket-keeper in 2019 as the instances of players not being happy under his leadership came to light. KKR finished fifth in that season and had an awful start in the next season. As a result, Karthik stepped down from the captaincy and handed it over to Eoin Morgan halfway into the 2020 season.
Under Karthik’s leadership, KKR played 37 matches, winning 19 of those and losing 17. As a player, Karthik remains one of their top assets with 1043 runs at an average of 30.7 and strike rate of 142.3 for KKR.
Eoin Morgan (2020-2021)
England’s World Cup winning captain Eoin Morgan was roped in to the side by KKR ahead of the 2020 IPL season. Hailed as one of the shrewdest brains in cricket, Morgan was appointed as the KKR captain after seven matches, however, he was unable to change the team’s fortunes as they narrowly missed the playoffs spot.
Kolkata Knight Riders started the 2021 season under Morgan’s leadership but had an awful start, losing five out of seven games, before the tournament was suspended.
Overall, Eoin Morgan has led KKR in 14 matches, winning only four and losing nine. As a batsman, Morgan has scored 954 runs for KKR with 418 of those coming in the 2020 edition.
KKR Captain: IPL 2022 – Shreyas Iyer
Shreyas Iyer became one of the most high profile players in the IPL when he was brought for Rs 12.25 crore in the recently conducted auction. He will hope to add another trophy in the rich cabinet of KKR.