It has not always been Korbo Lorbo Jeetbo Re for the Kolkata Knight Riders as their team slogan says. The team performed rather poorly in the first three editions of the IPL notwithstanding their co-owner Shahrukh Khan’s inspirational presence. But the team has come back strongly in 2011 even qualifying for the playoffs only to have Mumbai Indians ending their run in the IPL. This enabled them to participate in the qualifiers of the Champions League where they barely managed to scrape through despite their loss to Somerset and are now fighting for a place in the semi-finals. With an overall win percentage of 43.33 the team looks very inconsistent.
The Knights got off to a good start in the qualifiers beating New Zealand team Auckland Aces by 2 runs backed by Manvinder Bisla’s 45 in a thrilling clash at the Rajiv Gandhi International stadium in Hyderabad needing just another win to qualify for the main draw. They came up against Somerset Sabres in their second match only to be beaten by 11 runs with an all-round clinical performance by the English side. Peter Trego and Roelof van der Merwe set the pace for the sabres with a 72 run stand as Brett Lee and Jaidev Unadkat finishing with 2 wickets a piece. Despite losing the match, they managed to qualify for the main draw by virtue of their superior net run-rate than second placed Ruhuna Rhinos.
Their first match of the series was again with Somerset Sabres. With their lynchpin Gautam Gambhir coming back from an injury layoff a lot was expected of him but even he could not do much as he was out for a duck with just 21 runs on the board. Jacques Kallis then tried to steady the ship and managed 74 runs from 61 balls proving that he is a class act. Earlier speedster Brett Lee went with no wickets as Roelof Van Der Merwe proved to be a menace for the Knights, yet again as he blazed away to a stunning 73 and they went down again by 5 wickets this time around.
South Australian Redbacks were next in line for the Indian side as both teams needed a desperate win. But this time Callum Ferguson took the match away from them as he accumulated 70 runs from just 40 balls as the Australian side put up a commendable target of 188 leaving one of their Knights with a huge task of coming up with a grand show. Yusuf Pathan fell meekly and so did Jacques Kallis leaving Manoj Tiwary and Ryan Ten Doeschate with too big a task and ultimately they crumbled for 169 leaving them with an ominous future ahead of them in this year’s Champions League. They then faced a must win situation against their Indian counterparts in Bangalore Royal Challengers and they came up with just that as their captain Gautam Gambhir led the way to chase down a total of 170. Chris Gayle and Daniel Vettori threatened to take the game away from Kolkata initially but the bowlers held their nerve to restrict them to an achievable total as the Knight Riders managed to keep their hopes alive.
They still have an outside chance of qualifying to the semis with a win over Warriors in their next match as rain played havoc and the match being decided on Duckworth-Lewis basis after the knights were well on the way to chase down a target of 155 remaining at 83-1 at the end of nine overs. Their chances depend on how the other teams perform as they await the results of Group B matches. However if they have to win the League, it will require all their big guns to fire and a collective inspired effort!