NEW DELHI: In this year’s IPL, a new and supposedly improved Kolkata Knight Riders was showcased. A change in captain, a newly constituted bowling squad and a completely transformed batting unit. But, despite a changed squad and some big losses in terms of players, the side has not shown any signs of low morale, underperformance and have instead comfortably managed to secure a spot in the playoffs this year too.

In the IPL Auction this year, KKR surprised everyone when they decided to let go off their 2 time trophy winning captain, Gautam Gambhir, who chose to return to his home franchise i. e. Delhi Daredevils. In a similar trend, their star players who were instrumental in KKR earlier trophy winning campaigns like Suryakumar Yadav, Umesh Yadav and Manish Pandey too were let off by the team. But, despite losing Gambhir, KKR managed to retain the core team of players including Sunil Narine, Andre Russel, Robin Uthappa, Piyush Chawla and Kuldeep Yadav.

This year, the side decided to experiment with the idea of the Narine-Lynn duo for the opening combination. The experiment was met with skepticism, with many expecting the combination to fail. Instead, the pair performed well above their counterparts in that department.

The choice of making Dinesh Karthik the captain of the side is also a gamble that paid off. Karthik has established himself as a trustworthy match winner along with Andre Russel and Nitish Rana. The spinning trio of Sunil Narine, Piyush Chawla and Kuldeep Yadav has done wonders for the side.

The side suffered greatly due to the loss of its key bowler Mitchell Starc to injury. But, other overseas players like Mitchell Johnson and Russel have done well to nullify his absence. The side has also discovered young talents in the form of Prasidh Krishna, Rinku Singh and Shubham Gill who could be the bright future of Indian Cricket.

In the recent years, KKR has performed extremely well and managed to get into the playoffs 5 times in the last 7 years, winning the IPL twice in 2012 and 2014, under the leadership of Gautam Gambhir. Dinesh Karthik, given the opportunity to lead the side this year has also impressed fans with his captaincy skills and done well to secure KKR a place in the playoffs again. KKR, under the captaincy of Karthik, won 8 out of the total of 14 matches to be positioned 3rd in the points table this year.

The opening combination of Sunil Narine and Chris Lynn has emerged as a formidable pair to give the side the opportunity to create pressure early on in matches. Both of them have established themselves as match-winners and performed well under pressure to take the side to the winning position many times.

Andre Russel has proven from time to time why he is regarded as a force to reckon with after showcasing some brilliant knocks towards the end of the innings. He has been KKR’s most valuable as he has taken the side home many times both with the bat and the ball.

The side also got the chance to benefit from the young domestic players of India like Prasidh Krishna who impressed everyone with his figures of 4 for 30 against Sunrisers Hyderabad to help KKR qualify for the playoffs.

It cannot be said for sure if KKR will lift the trophy again this year. But looking at their performance and the form and fitness of their players, they’ve emerged as the underdogs who took losses and transformed them into wins.