Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR), with two titles, are the third-most successful Indian Premier League (IPL) franchise after Mumbai Indians (4) and Chennai Super Kings (3). Under the leadership of Sourav Ganguly, the Bengal-based T20 franchise began their IPL journey on an unsteady note in 2008, with their owners undergoing a soft reboot to give a makeover to their line-up at the IPL 2011 auction. They acquired cricketers like Gautam Gambhir, Yusuf Pathan and Jacques Kallis at the bidding event, players who turned out to be some of KKR’s most significant contributors in rejuvenating their image in subsequent editions.
Gautam Gambhir joined the KKR camp in IPL 2011 and was immediately appointed as their captain. The former Indian opening batsman remained their full-time skipper until his final appearance for KKR in 2017. Under his leadership and on the back of some impactful all-round performances from Yusuf Pathan and Jacques Kallis, the KKR line-up lifted the IPL trophy twice - in 2012 and 2014.
However, there was a time when KKR did not even consider purchasing any of the three aforementioned cricketers at the 2011 auction. Prior to the bidding event, KKR presented a ‘wish-list’ of players to the league which did not include the names of either Gautam Gambhir, Yusuf Pathan or Jacques Kallis but comprised of some renowned T20 stars like Chris Gayle and Brendon McCullum. Interestingly, both Gambhir and Pathan were on the wish list of many other franchises, all of whom who failed to acquire any of the three players due to some last-minute decision-making by the KKR management.
The decision by the KKR management reaped rewards for the franchise as they made it to the final four for the first time that season. In the following edition, they went one step further and stopped CSK’s juggernaut in the final. Gautam Gambhir and co replicated their success in 2014 by upsetting table-toppers Kings XI Punjab in a nerve-wracking title clash to clinch their second IPL trophy in three seasons.
Veteran KKR campaigner Gautam Gambhir was replaced by Dinesh Karthik in IPL 2018, who now continues to remain the captain of the franchise. Karthik will be seen marshalling his troops in the upcoming IPL 2020 season. As per the recent IPL 2020 schedule announcement date, the much-awaited season is scheduled to commence from September 19 in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).