How Shah Rukh Khan And Gautam Gambhir Combined Forces To Change KKR’s Fortunes In IPL 2024

IPL 2024: As KKR look to register their third title win, here's how Gautam Gambhir and Shah Rukh Khan combined forces to make the team, a champion side.

Entertainment Desk
Written By: Entertainment Desk
Updated: May 26, 2024 | 09:05 IST
SRK and Gautam Gambhir
Here's how Gautam Gambhir and Shah Rukh Khan combined forces to make KKR, a champion side.

We often talk about Mumbai Indians and Chennai Super Kings (CSK) when it comes to the most successful Indian Premier League (IPL) franchises, and rightly so. Both of these teams have won the tournament on five occasions each. But we think Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) also deserve mention as the Shah Rukh Khan and Juhi Chawla co-owned franchise has won the tournament twice. Apart from Mumbai Indians, CSK, and KKR, no other team has managed to win the tournament more than once. Hence, there is a case for KKR to be shown a little more respect from the cricket-loving country. Over the years, KKR has managed to create a loyal fanbase for themselves, despite never having a superstar figure in the squad. 

KKR have managed to reach the final of the ongoing IPL 2024, after witnessing a slump in the last few seasons. In 2024, KKR have been dominant right through the ongoing edition, and it is safe to say that the Kolkata-based franchise will enter the final as the standout favourites. 

Unsurprisingly, the team has been this dominant in the year when their two-time IPL-winning captain Gautam Gambhir returned to the franchise as a mentor.

Before we talk about how instrumental Gambhir has been in KKR's dominant run in this IPL 2024 campaign, let us tell you how the former India batter turned the franchise around as a leader from 2011 to 2017. Shah Rukh Khan and the KKR management roped in Gambhir during the 2011 IPL auction. He was purchased for USD 2.4 million, and this made him the highest-paid cricketer in the history of the tournament, at that time. 

Ever since joining the team, Gambhir turned the fortunes around, and he led KKR to two IPL title wins in 2012 and 2014. He also managed to guide the team to playoffs in 2011, 2016, and 2017. Gambhir then parted ways with the franchise in 2018 as he joined Delhi Capitals. In 2022, Gautam Gambhir was roped in by Lucknow Super Giants (LSG) as a mentor, and in the two years, he was there with the franchise, LSG managed to reach the playoffs. 

And this year, when Gambhir was not there with LSG, KL Rahul's side failed to make it to the playoffs. So, we do not need to say anything further to establish Gautam Gambhir's strong CV as a captain and mentor. 

Gambhir's impressive record might have convinced Shah Rukh Khan to approach the former KKR captain to return to Kolkata once again. Even the fans of Kolkata wanted Gambhir back, looking at how the franchise was struggling ever since he decided to leave the team as a player. During the IPL 2023 match between KKR and Lucknow Super Giants, some fans were seen holding placards at the Eden Gardens, which read, "Bring back GG to Kolkata."

Ever since IPL 2023 came to an end, the negotiations between SRK and Gambhir started. Media reports started surfacing that SRK is trying his level best to bring back Gambhir to KKR. Well, who can blame the Bollywood superstar? Gambhir and head coach Chandrakant Pandit make for an amazing coaching staff on paper and hence SRK's efforts does not surprise anyone, who has a little knowledge about cricket. Towards the end of 2023, it was confirmed that Gambhir had indeed joined KKR as a mentor. 

When the news was confirmed that Gambhir had joined forces with KKR, several media reports did the rounds that SRK offered a blank cheque to Gambhir in a bid to lure him back to KKR. Well, who can blame SRK for doing his best to bring back the cricketer, who took the franchise to great heights? 

Then came the IPL 2024 auction, the first big test for the former India player, who gave match-winning performances in the finals of 2007 T20 World Cup and 2011 50-over World Cup. Gambhir made everyone know that he means business when he bought Australia pacer Mitchell Starc for a whopping prize of Rs 24.75 crore. At the auction, Gambhir also made some other quality buys. When Jason Roy decided to pull out of the tournament, Gambhir and the management named England wicketkeeper-batter Phil Salt as the replacement, and look how this decision paid off. 

Recently, Gambhir made an appearance on cricketer Ravichandran Ashwin's YouTube channel, and the words he spoke there, prove that Gambhir has a winning mentality, and he will take nothing else, apart from a win. The words spoken by Gambhir show why he is one of the best tacticians going around, and it also shows how he managed to change the fortunes around for KKR this year. 

"People don't come to watch me smile. Unfortunately, people come to watch me win. That's the kind of profession we guys are in. I can't help it. I'm not in entertainment. I'm not a Bollywood actor, or I'm not a corporate. I'm a cricketer. I’m into performing art, said Gambhir.

"My job is that I want to come back in a winning dressing room. Fortunately or unfortunately, a winning dressing room is a happy dressing room is a winning dressing room. And, I have all the right to fight for myself, for my teammates, and do everything possible within the spirit of the game to try and beat the opposition, the KKR mentor added.

Further, he added, "Don't look to be popular. Look to be a winner. I’m not breaking any rules. I want to be as aggressive as I can be. And, what's wrong with that? That's My nature. That's my characteristics. Because for me, winning, it's an obsession."

During the same interview, Gautam Gambhir also had some high praise for SRK, and hence, we can say that the duo's match was indeed made in heaven. SRK and Gambhir work in unison for the betterment of the team, and this is the main reason behind the team's resurgence this year.

SRK is the best owner I have worked with. In the seven years of my captaining, we had not spoken 70 seconds about cricket. He had never asked me a single question on cricket in those seven years. Can you imagine?" said Gambhir.

"Since I have come, 20 days we haven’t spoken about cricket. We don’t talk about cricket. The first thing he told me in 2011 when I met him for the first time he said, ‘I don’t like anybody telling me how acting needs to be done," he added.

Speaking further about it, Gambhir said, "I am sure you will not like someone telling you how cricket needs to be played’. I said, ‘Absolutely’. And that was the only conversation I had with him. In the last 20 days, he has not asked me what team are we playing or what is the strategy.”

During his first speech at the KKR training camp in Kolkata, Gambhir was seen delivering some stern words to his players. In his first speech to the players after taking over as mentor, Gambhir talked about being there on May 26, the date of the IPL 2024 final. 

Looking at how KKR has indeed managed to reach the final, it is time to read Gambhir's words once again. It is remarkable to think that Gautam Gambhir delivered these words, one week before the first ball of IPL 2024 was delivered. It can be safely said that Gambhir indeed manifested KKR reaching the final.

During his speech, Gambhir said, "We start the season from today. Whether it is physically, mentally, or skill-wise, give everything possible. It’s a very, very proud and successful franchise. You guys are representing a very successful franchise. Make sure you train that way, you play that way, and you carry that attitude on the field. One thing I absolutely believe in is giving all the freedom to the players. That is something very important. So people who have played with me, know one thing, that everyone in this group will be treated equally. There’s no senior/junior." 

"No domestic/international because we have got one mission and that is to win the IPL. So, everyone needs to follow that one simple path. On 26th May, we should be there, giving everything possible. And it starts from today,” he added. 

Throughout IPL 2024, Shah Rukh Khan and Gautam Gambhir have often been seen exchanging warm hugs after the KKR matches come to an end. Every time we see those images or videos, we become more and more sure of how these two absolutely aligned with each other's vision, to make KKR a dominant force in the cash-rich league. 

KKR's performance has been so dominant that it has even led to the BCCI trying to convince Gautam Gambhir to become the head coach of the senior men's team. Several reports state that Gambhir is negotiating with the board, and it needs to be seen whether he leaves KKR to become the coach of the national team. 

As KKR gears up to face SRH in the IPL 2024 final, here's how the team progressed to the summit clash: 

Group stage matches:

KKR vs SunRisers Hyderabad (Eden Gardens, Kolkata) -- KKR won by 4 runs 

KKR vs Royal Challengers Bengaluru (M Chinnaswamy Stadium, Bengaluru) -- KKR won by 7 wickets and 19 balls to spare

KKR vs Delhi Capitals (Dr. Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy ACA-VDCA Cricket Stadium, Visakhapatnam) -- KKR won by 106 runs

KKR vs Chennai Super Kings (MA Chidambaram Stadium, Chennai) -- CSK won by 7 wickets and 14 balls to spare

KKR vs Lucknow Super Giants (Eden Gardens, Kolkata) -- KKR won by 8 wickets and 26 balls to spare

KKR vs Rajasthan Royals (Eden Gardens, Kolkata) -- Rajasthan Royals won by 2 wickets

KKR vs Royal Challengers Bengaluru (Eden Gardens, Kolkata) -- KKR won by 1 run

KKR vs Punjab Kings (Eden Gardens, Kolkata) -- Punjab Kings won by 8 wickets and 8 balls to spare

KKR vs Delhi Capitals (Eden Gardens, Kolkata) -- KKR won by 7 wickets and 21 balls to spare

KKR vs Mumbai Indians (Wankhede Stadium, Mumbai) -- KKR won by 24 runs

KKR vs Lucknow Super Giants (Ekana Stadium, Lucknow) -- KKR won by 98 runs

KKR vs Mumbai Indians (Eden Gardens, Kolkata) -- KKR won by 18 runs

KKR vs Gujarat Titans (Narendra Modi Stadium, Ahmedabad) -- No Result

KKR vs Rajasthan Royals (Barsapara Cricket Stadium, Guwahati) -- No Result

Qualifier 1

KKR vs SunRisers Hyderabad (Narendra Modi Stadium, Ahmedabad) -- KKR won by 8 wickets and 38 balls to spare. 

In the end, we would just like to state that Gambhir is indeed the game-changer for KKR in IPL 2024. But one should not forget SRK's role in bringing back GG to the franchise as a mentor. Even if KKR ends up losing the final at the MA Chidambaram Stadium in Chennai, KKR should be mighty impressed with their season.

Fun fact: KKR finished the IPL 2024 season (group stage) with a net run rate of +1.428. This is the highest net run rate recorded by any team in any IPL season. The side also finished at the top of the points table for the very first time.

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