Amidst a turbulent start to their journey in the Indian Premier League (IPL), with Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) failing to make the playoffs in their first three seasons, Gautam Gambhir was appointed captain in 2011.

Gautam Gambhir
Gautam Gambhir (Image source: Twitter)

KKR clinched two titles in the next three seasons. After finishing seventh in the table in 2023, KKR once again brought Gambhir on board, this time as a mentor. However, co-owner Shah Rukh Khan’s message to him remained unchanged from 13 years ago – “Thrive or perish.”

KKR has witnessed a string of poor performances over the last five seasons, with 2021 being the only exception when they reached the final. They finished fifth in both 2019 and 2020, and seventh in 2022 and 2023.

Gambhir, under whose guidance Lucknow Super Giants finished third in the last two IPL seasons, is expected to bring fresh vigor and discipline to the KKR squad, although his relationship with head coach Chandrakant Pandit will be scrutinized.

Expressing his gratitude, Gambhir, speaking at the Knights Unplugged event at the team hotel in Kolkata, stated, “Firstly, I want to say one thing — I’m a very tough guy to handle. I have to thank SRK (team principal owner Shah Rukh Khan) and Venky bhai (CEO Venky Mysore) who is here as well… They have taken a lot of my tantrums, stubbornness for such a long period of time.”

“Because the truth is that we know how to fight with honesty, we know how to lose, and we know how to win,” he added.

The 2011 World Cup-winning player then recalled his 2011 days in KKR which is when he revealed Shah Rukh’s fiery message to him in his return to the franchise as a mentor: “He only told me the same thing that he had told me when I joined KKR as a player in 2011: ‘This is your franchise, make it or break it.’ He told me exactly the same thing. I don’t know what’s going to happen, but I can assure you that whenever I leave this place, we will be in a much better position.”

KKR will begin their IPL 2024 campaign on March 23 against Sunrisers Hyderabad at the Eden Gardens in Kolkata. As part of IPL’s fixture for the first leg, KKR will next play against Royal Challengers Bangalore on Match 29 in Bengaluru and against Delhi Capitals in Visakhapatnam on April 3.

Leave a Reply