Kolkata Knight Riders – KKR – A Team Always Under Pressure

The crunch games are soon approaching for Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR ), and it would be interesting to watch if they would be able to carry forward their game into the quarters and semis with the same steam or will buckle under the pressure of their over-enthusiastic and passionate fans and fastidious team management.

The Bangladeshi all-rounder Shakib dives to his extreme left to catch the ball that had been struck hard by Chris Lynn and succeeds in taking an extraordinary catch off his own delivery. Chris Lynn was batting at 49 and looked to be in good form and capable of mounting up a big total on the scoreboard for KKR.

Wriddhiman Saha, comes to the crease and flicks Mitchell Johnson for a boundary on the leg side. Saha then goes on to score a quick 24 four runs off fifteen deliveries and gives Sunrisers Hyderabad’s innings a soft push in inching towards their target set by KKR.

What is the connection between these two players? Both of them have worn the KKR caps and both have a very deep-rooted connection to the city Kolkata and the team. However, both of the players haven’t been retained by the franchise to play for Kolkata Knight Riders.

Shakib-ul-Hasan is a class player from the subcontinent who can not only bat but can also bowl and field well and is a multifaceted cricket player in all formats of the game. This very same player was in the KKR squad in 2017 and was hardly played in a match. A useful all-rounder player like him was made to sit in the dugout through ought the tournament. Shakib was acutely underused in 2017 IPL games and this year the same man turns around and performs with élan against the KKR side reminding KKR of his mettle that was ignored in the 2017 IPL matches.

Wriddhiman Saha, Laxmi Ratan Shukla, Manoj Tiwari and Ashok Dinda were all dropped from the KKR squad and picked up by other franchises in 2014. Manoj Tiwari who played some match-winning knocks for the KKR franchise in the past was perplexed to hear that he had been dropped from the side as he was also a Bengal connection for the franchise representing Kolkata, the capital of Bengal.

Wriddhiman Saha went ahead and scored a mammoth 115 against the same KKR team in 2014, the team which unceremoniously dropped him out during the player auctions the same year. He went on to become the first player to score a century in an IPL final match. He ripped into the KKR bowling attack and hit the ball all over the park to achieve such a massive individual feat.

It has often been the talk of the press and ex-players that the team owner and the management keeps interfering with match decisions which should otherwise be left to be decided by the players or the coaches alone. Opinions or ideas expressed by the management could be good in theory or on the drawing board, but if too much has to be followed and implemented what they say on the field, then it adds pressure to the players and affect their performances.

In the recently launched autobiography of one of the champion cricketers of all times (A Century Is Not Enough), Saurav Ganguly an ex-Indian and ex- KKR captain has mentioned that the owner’s involvement went very deep in the KKR franchise.  There were times when Saurav was in constant touch with the co-owner Shahrukh Khan and also took his opinion in deciding the final playing eleven of his team. One can imagine the pressure being in the KKR camp can create if an ex Indian cricket captain had to go through an ordeal of coordinating with a man just because he owns the team financially in deciding his playing eleven boys for the match.

Thus one can say that it turned out to be a blessing in disguise for players like Shakib, Wriddhi and Manoj for not being retained by the Kolkata Knight Riders franchise.  These players are performing effortlessly in the current season of IPL matches as if the lid of the pressure cooker has been removed from over their heads.


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