Season Review 2015: Kolkata Knight Riders

What went wrong for the tournament’s most efficient franchise? From being badly planned, ill-fated no-hopers from the first season, KKR have grown to become one of the top franchise teams in T20 history. In 2015, however, they only went on to prove how much they depended on the likes of Narine and Kallis to secure their glory. With Kallis over the hill, and Narine repeatedly disciplined for questionable bowling action, KKR—under an intense Gambhir—spluttered, charged, stalled and crashed when push came to shove. They were the most unlikely to crash out in the final week of group stages, but they lost two games they should have won, and that was it.
What were the reasons?

1.Opening Combo
Gambhir and Uthappa had done very well for the defending Champions in 2014, as they won their final 9 games in a row to sweep aside KXIP in the final. Uthappa was their star, as he finally came of age and went past his usual 20s and 30s to become a mainstay. Gambhir’s half centuries piled up, and they often set the platform for successful chases. But in 2015, Uthappa returned back to his 20-30 scores, and Gambhir failed to get going after the first few games. What’s more, Manish Pandey, who took them over the line in 2014 final, barely scored runs—as it was left to Pathan and Russell, two power players, to help them win half their games.

2.Dropping Morne Morkel
Morkel started for KKR as their best bowler, and backed it up with good solid wicket-taking performances in the first few games. He was then dropped for Cummins without a reason, and never made his way back in till the end. It was too late by then. KKR experimented way too much with their bowlers, even dropping Yadav after a bad game, while their gamble to pay a fortune for Cariappa backfired—as the youngster played just one game and was exposed severely. Shakib left mid-way to play for Bangladesh, and came back more of a batsman than an effective bowler. Russell was inconsistent as a bowler, and guys like Chawla and Hogg had to fill Morkel’s boots. The turning pitch of Eden Gardens required a foil in Morkel, but Gambhir and co. bungled it up.

3.Chawla’s Final Finger
Piyush Chawla, who overperformed throughout the season as a bowler, and was handy with the bat during last year’s final too, came a cropper against Mumbai Indians and then the Royals in the final two games. He displayed some terrible pre-determined shot-hitting, not connecting even one out of his 7 balls against MI, bungling up a chase, and got out to the same kind of shot against Royals on his first ball. It is unfair to blame him, but he refused to learn from his mistakes—letting pressure get the better of him, resembling a clueless school kid at the crease.

Sunil Narine, T20’s best bowler, started the series with his action under scrutiny, didn’t take a wicket for his first 3 games, and was called out again (coincidentally) before the crucial CSK game. When he came back, he produced one match-turning performance, but his team needed much more. He lacked confidence and looked rattled, unable to bowl off-spinners as ruled by the BCCI.
5.Fielding Bombs
KKR were one of the worse teams on the field, with guys like Pathan and Gambhir dropping sitters that turned games. Gambhir didn’t even make up with the bat, in the process having to turn to 44-year old Brad Hogg to infuse energy into bowling and fielding, which was a bit of a tall ask. The Aussie did his best, and KKR were lifted momentarily, before stalling towards the end, thanks to ill-timed chases, the transfer of Eoin Morgan, the absence of Kallis and the underutilized Ryan Ten Doeschate.

6.Shah Rukh Khan
His glum face at the Brabourne during their last game against the Royals pretty much summed up his team’s energy on field. His ban at the Wankhede didn’t help matters either, as KKR lost their most crucial and final two games in Mumbai, in two stadiums a mere few feet away from one another. Ironic, considering their ownership lies embedded in Bollywood.


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