Most of Kolkata Knight Riders’ players did well at various stages of IPL 7 © PTI
From Robin Uthappa’s prolific run, Sunil Narine flummoxing batsmen, Yusuf Pathan’s big-hitting prowess to Manish Pandey’s gutsy stroke-making, Kolkata Knight Riders rose as a group. R Vishal looks into the Indian Premier League 7 Champions’ success formula.
Kolkata Knight Riders’ second Indian Premier League (IPL) win was no one man show. As was their previous triumph in 2012, the team never zeroed in on a winning nucleus right through the tournament. There were men who took siege on different occasions to lead them to victory.
The skipper and the team’s poor run
After the first seven games in IPL 7, Kolkata’s’s win-loss record displayed three victories and four soul-sapping losses. Gautam Gambhir had been dismissed for three ducks in a row and their campaign was falling apart dramatically. It was a scenario where a team with lesser men would have crumbled. All it took was a slight shuffle of the batting order coupled with a tough decision to drop a legend like Jacques Kallis. Robin Uthappa was slotted in his preferred openers’ slot and Gambhir gradually got back to run-scoring ways. In what was an inspired move, it opened doors for a new-look but meaty middle order. Shakib al Hasan and Ryan ten Doeshchate were drafted in and Yusuf Pathan got back to his destructive best.
The Team’s exponential rise and remarkable winning run
The Bangladesh skipper proved to be jewel in Kolkata’s crown, as the tournament progressed. Shakib’s wily left-arm spin frustrated opponents in the middle overs and his explosive batting got the team to competitive scores regularly. Subconsciously, a winning formula took shape. While defending totals, they had the genius of Sunil Narine to wear opponents down in the evening dew. With the middle-order packed with Manish Pandey, Shakib, Ten Doeschate, Yusuf and Suryakumar Yadav, no total looked insurmountable. Kolkata were certainly lucky to have all the aforementioned players on song.
Robin Uthappa’s purple patch with the bat
Despite vital contributions across the board, Uthappa’s second-coming as a batsman was straight out of a fairytale. To have nine 40 plus scores on the trot in the blink-and-miss nature of the format is simply astounding. The adjustments that the Karnataka opener made to his technique was evident and had molded a batting style that would succeed in all formats. Uthappa’s exquisite stroke-play at the top had an authority and panache and it caught up with his team-mates down the order too. In what has proved to be a remarkable year for him, IPL 7’s Orange Cap holder earlier was the heartbeat of his state that won a hat-trick of domestic titles, where he averaged 89 in the season. After six years, Uthappa has now been rewarded with an India call-up for the upcoming Bangladesh tour.
Spin reigns supreme in the IPL
Agreed, The Kolkata spinners came a cropper in the final against Kings XI Punjab, where they had no answer to Wriddhiman Saha’s robust hitting. Steady performances throughout from three spinners who were different as chalk and cheese had the batsmen in a trance. In Piyush Chawla, Shakib and Narine, Kolkata had done well to accommodate the trio who were armed with plenty of international experience. This claim is not to discount the timely displays by their frontline pacers – Morne Morkel. With slow wickets being laid across the length and breadth of the country , spin trumped pace.
After their clinical win against Punjab in Qualifier 1 to reach the finals, the team released a video of Pharrell Williams’s hit single, ‘Happy’. It featured the entire team grooving and lip-synching to the song and was participated in utmost gusto. Even the coaching staff, which included pace legend Wasim Akram joined in and showed a united team, happy for each other’s success. Successful they were and in unison Kolkata clinched their second IPL.
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(R Vishal is a journalist and alumnus of Asian College of Journalism. He can be followed on Twitter @vishhell)