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IPL 2024: Factors behind KKR's brilliant campaign so far

IPL 2024: Top four reasons why Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) look a team to beat this season. KKR have won three out of three games so far.


IPL 2024: Top four reasons why Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) look a team to beat this season. Walking Wicket (Images_ ©BCCI_IPLT20)
Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) have won 3 out of 3 games (Images: ©BCCI/IPLT20)

Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) led by India middle-order batter Shreyas Iyer have had a dream start to their campaign in the IPL 2024. Along with Rajasthan Royals, KKR is the only undefeated team in the competition thus far, having won all of its three opening games. As a result, they sit pretty at the top with an NRR of +2.518 after 3 games.


After their nail-baiting opening game where they won by 4 runs against Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH) at home, KRR thrashed Royal Challengers Bengaluru (RCB) & Delhi Capitals (DC) by 7 wickets and 106 runs respectively. What would be even more heartening is that, both these games were played away from Eden Gardens.


Even though the IPL is a long tournament, KKR as a team have garnered fabulous early momentum in the IPL. They have been clinical in most facets of the game and. Here, we look at the factors that have worked for them until now.


The Gautam Gambhir effect

We all know how shrewd a leader Gautam Gambhir can be and he has shown his leadership qualities during his time of leading KKR through their glorious period. His tenure as skipper of KKR (2011 to 2017) saw them winning the title on two different occasions (2012 and 2014) and reaching playoffs 3 more times. These are the only 2 times KKR attained glory in the league. 


After retiring from the IPL, Gambhir took mentorship roles, first with Lucknow Super Giants (2022 & 2023) and now again back with KKR where till all started. Gambhir is someone who knows how to get the best out of his players both while captaining a side as well as during his stint as a mentor. 


It was evident during his time as mentor of LSG, where the team reached the playoffs on both occasions. Similarly, back in KKR colours, he had managed to bring in the same fighting spirit in the dressing room, something that was missing in the previous 2 editions. His ability to make sound decisions from the background and the fact that KKR is coached by a tactically brilliant coach in Chandrakant Pandit augurs well for the team.



IPL 2024, KKR vs SRH_ Andre Russell's all-round show helped KKR beat SRH _ Walking Wicket (Images_ ©IPL_X)
Andre Russell's all-round show helped KKR beat SRH (Images: ©IPL/X)
Russel-Narine combo

When we look at the annual IPL retentions of all teams, two names that will be on KKR’s list would be the West Indies duo of Andre Russell & Sunil Narine. Both of them have had consistent backing from the KKR management for close to a decade.

 

For Russel, it has been more of a fitness issue and sometimes form, but it has not deterred KKR from retaining him since 2014. It is the case for Narine as well and the all-rounder has been part of KKR since 2024. One reason is their ability to win matches for the team, almost single-handedly on occasions. But both these star players had an ordinary outing in the last edition.


However, the Russel-Narine duo has been magical thus far in this season and in both departments of the game. While Narine was the player of the match against both RCB and DC, Russel was the star of the show in their opening fixture against SRH. In short, they have played a pivotal role in 2024 for KKR, with 239 runs and 8 wickets between them in just 3 games.



Deep batting line-up

One of the strategies that KKR have always employed, especially when Gambhir is at the helm in some capacity is to send Sunil Narine at the top of the order. This move has not only given them blazing starts but also made their batting line-up longer and stronger.


Narine batting at the top means, there is enough room for big hitters in their batting line-up. As a result, KKR’s middle-order possesses stroke makers like Shreyas Iyer, Venkatesh Iyer, Nitish Rana, Andre Russel, and Rinku Singh. They all have the capability to hit effective maximums. The fact that someone like Mitchell Starc can smash balls on his day at No.9 speaks volumes about KKR’s batting depth.


Bowlers stepping up to the occasion

In a season that has largely favoured batters with a lot of high-scoring games, KKR bowlers have done a great job. In the first game, it was 3/33 from Harshit Rana along with an economical 1/19 from Narine that gave them a closely fought win over SRH. At the same time, in the second against RCB, it was Andre Russel’s spell (2/29) that made the difference.


KKR’s third outing saw Mitchell Starc, Vaibhav Arora, and Varun Chakaravarthy come to the party as they picked 8 wickets between them. So, the story for the men in purple till now has been different bowlers stepping up at different times.

 

With a dominant opening pair in Phil Salt & Sunil Narine, followed by a strong middle order and a potent bowling attack, KKR has seemingly all bases covered, at least till now. If their death bowling clicks, then there would be no stopping the Knight Riders this season.


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