Who could forget the first-ever game of the Indian Premier League? Kolkata Knight Riders and Royal Challengers Bangalore locked horns in the opening game of the T20 league that went on to grow and became the biggest cricketing league on the planet. Brendon McCullum’s record-breaking whirlwind knock and KKR’s drubbing of RCB made the league an instant hit among the fans.
Kolkata Knight Riders are one of the most popular franchises in the Indian Premier League. The Men in Purple had a tough beginning to their journey in the marquee league but after a couple of seasons, they made their presence felt. Soon, Kolkata Knight Riders transformed into a force to reckon win.
The Knight Riders won the championship twice to challenge the duopoly of Chennai Super Kings and Mumbai Indians. They also became the regular contenders for the playoffs spot and also finished as the runners-up once.
The Kolkata-based franchise began its journey under the leadership of the most loved son of the city – Sourav Ganguly. Since there, not many players have had the honour to lead the iconic team. In this post, we will talk about every player who has captained the Knight Riders across the 15 seasons of the marquee league.
In this article, we will take a look at KKR’s all-captains in IPL history:
Sourav Ganguly (2008-2010)
The legendary Indian skipper was chosen as the icon player of the franchise in the inaugural season and was also appointed the skipper of the team. Kolkata Knight Riders began the IPL with a bang by winning the first two games but things went downhill from there and the team finished 6th in the points table.
In 2009, the coach introduced the multiple-captains format and removed Ganguly from the captaincy. However, following a terrible run in the 2009 season, the left-handed southpaw was reinstated as the team’s skipper. In the 2010 season, KKR once again finished the league stage at the 6th position and the franchise decided to part ways with Sourav Ganguly.
Brendon McCullum (2009)
After McCullum’s heroics with the bat in the inaugural season, the franchise decided to bank upon him and appointed him the skipper in the 2009 edition. However, the wicketkeeper-batter failed to inspire the team and the franchise succumbed to their worst-ever performance in the IPL.
Following a run of nine consecutive defeats during the league, the Knight Riders finished at the bottom of the points table. Baz also failed to keep harmony in the dressing room which led to KKR’s downfall in the season. Subsequently, the Kiwi was axed ahead of the next season.
Gautam Gambhir (2011-2017)
Ahead of the 2011 season, Kolkata Knight Riders broke the bank for Gautam Gambir and it would be safe to say that his appointment as the KKR’s skipper turned their fortunes. After three consecutive failures, KKR managed to reach playoffs in 2011. The Men in Purple improved further the following season and became the champions for the first time.
KKR faced a slump in 2013 and finished at the 7th position. However, they once again bounced back the next season to clinch the IPL championship for the 2nd time in three years. The team reached the playoffs twice in the next three seasons before Gautam Gambhir calls it a day to his IPL career.
Jacques Kallis (2011)
The legendary South African all-rounder captained Kolkata Knight Riders in two games during the IPL 2011 season in the absence of Gautam Gambhir. The franchise won one game and lost another in those two matches.
Dinesh Karthik (2018-2020)
In absence of a genuine leader on the side, KKR signed the veteran wicketkeeper batter Dinesh Karthik ahead of the 2018 season. The Tamil Nadu-born did a decent season in the first-ever season as a skipper of an IPL team. Kolkata Knight Riders reached playoffs in 2018 but missed the playoffs berth by a whisker after finishing 5th in 2019.
In 2020, Kolkata Knight Riders were having a topsy-turvy season. Meanwhile, the skipper Dinesh Karthik was struggling with the bat; hence, he handed over the captaincy to Eoin Morgan midway through the season. The Men in Purple missed the playoffs after finishing 5th for the consecutive season.
Eoin Morgan (2020-2021)
The World Cup-winning English skipper was appointed the KKR’s skipper midway through the 2020 season. Under his leadership, the team had a difficult beginning in the league as the wins were difficult to come by. However, their fortunes flipped once the marquee tournament was shifted to UAE courtesy of the coronavirus.
Kolkata Knight Riders stunned everyone by reaching the final, where they lost to Chennai Super Kings. However, the franchise decided against retaining Eoin Morgan because of his poor form with the bat.
Shreyas Iyer (2022 – Present)
Keeping the future in mind, Kolkata Knight Riders signed Shreyas Iyer in the mega-auction ahead of the IPL 2022. Subsequently, the right-handed batter was appointed the skipper of the franchise. Life under Iyer’s leadership began positively as the Knight Riders won three of their first four games.
However, everything went downhill from there as the team lost five consecutive games to crash out of the competition. In the end, Kolkata Knight Riders finished 7th in the points table with six wins and eight losses in 14 matches.
Nitish Rana (2023)
Nitish Rana was handed the captaincy duty by the franchise after regular skipper Shreyas Iyer ruled out for indefinite period due to back injury. Despite having several experienced players, the Kolkata-based franchise opted for the young Indian cricketer to lead the side. It will be interested to watch how he handles the additional duty.