THE KNIGHTS LEGACY: UNLEASHING YOUNG TALENT IN THE IPL AND BEYOND
Over the years, the KKR has always managed to strike a beautiful balance between experience and youthful exuberance in their squad composition and have been instrumental in grooming and producing some of the top tier talent that have gone on to shine in the IPL and international cricket. The Knights think tank has developed a reputation for not only identifying players from domestic cricket but also unpolished stars from club cricket and helping them flourish in the IPL. Their strategy of drafting in promising youngsters from the national youth teams has also paid rich dividends over the years. Players from both past and present have hailed the Knights support staff, the academy and the preparation camps as being crucial in their growth as a player.
Let’s look at a few players who made their name in the KKR dugout:
- Suryakumar Yadav: Years before he became a household name in Indian cricket and the world no. 1 T20 batter, Suryakumar Yadav used to be a finisher in the KKR side. Arriving from Mumbai Indians in 2014, SKY was a part of the 2014 IPL winning KKR side and played many crucial knocks coming down the order.
- Rinku Singh: The Knights management have shown a lot of faith in the talent of Rinku Singh before he finally started to come good over the last 12 months. The young left hander endured a mixed start to his career in the IPL to now emerge as one of the most reliable and destructive finishers in the league and KKR’s most prolific batsman in TATA IPL 2023
- Varun Chakaravarthy: Eyebrows were raised when an unproven Varun Chakravarthy was picked up for 4 crores in 2020. But the uncapped mystery spinner has gone on to establish himself as one of the top spinners in the league helping the team make the finals in the 2021 IPL. Varun is currently KKR’s top wicket taker in this year’s IPL
- Rahul Tripathi : The Knights think tank showed great faith in the abilities of Rahul Tripathi when he had a tough 2 year stint with the Rajasthan Royals by drafting him into the side in 2020. Rahul scored 397 runs in the 2021 IPL as the Knights had a memorable run into the finals of the IPL.
- Shubman Gill: Fresh of his exploits in the U-19 World Cup in 2018, Shubhman Gill was drafted into the KKR side in 2018 and the youngster went on to become one of the key players in the team forming a destructive opening partnership with Chris Lynn. Gill has grown to become one of the mainstays in the national team with memorable knocks in all formats of the game.
- Nitish Rana - Skipper Nitish Rana, joined the Knights in 2018 and has been one of the most consistent middle order players in the league. The left handed batsman from Delhi can take on roles of both an aggressor and an accumulator with ease and is prolific against both spinners and pacers. Rana, who was made the Knights Captain this year has led the young Knights admirably, leading from the front with close to 400 runs in this year’s IPL.
- Sunil Narine - When he joined the Knights all the way back in 2012, not many expected Sunil Narine to become one of the most celebrated bowlers in T20 cricket down the line. Sunil Narine is one of the most experienced campaigners in limited overs cricket today and has been a key player for the Knights for well over a decade picking up 161 wickets and being instrumental in both title winning campaigns.
- Kuldeep Yadav - KKR picked up Kuldeep Yadav in 2014 when the left arm chinaman bowler was making a name for himself in the U-19 circuit. Kuldeep went on to break into the senior national team in all formats of the game after impressing one and all in his first full season with the Knights and is today one of the most prolific spinners in the country.
- Ashok Dinda - Ashok Dinda was one of the first uncapped players to be awarded a contract by KKR in the first edition of the IPL and the local boy captured the imagination of one and all in his very first game as a Knight picking up 2 wickets for just 9 runs in 3 overs against Royal Challengers Bangalore. The Bengal lad went on to represent the national team in limited overs cricket and took 69 wickets in the IPL.
- Shivam Mavi - After impressing one and all in the 2018 U-19 World Cup, Shivam Mavi was drafted into the KKR team for a whopping price of 3 crores. The youngster struggled with injuries in his first season in the IPL but came back stronger to emerge as a key new ball option for the Knights. Mavi made his T20I debut for India vs Sri Lanka earlier this year, where he starred with figures of 4/22 as India beat Sri Lanka by 2 runs in a nail biting contest!
- Suyash Sharma - Barely a season into his IPL career and Suyash is already proving to be one of the signings of the season. The 19 year old mystery spinner who had only played upto club level so far has turned heads in this year’s IPL picking up 10 wickets so far.
- Harshit Rana: Coming up through the ranks in Delhi, the express pacer was a nets bowler at Gujarat Titans before the Knights think tank decided to take a punt on him. In a few matches the young pacer has already shown glimpses of what he can do and he will be one to watch in the coming years.
- Vaibhav Arora: The Himachal born pacer impressed one and all with his fiery spells for Himachal Pradesh in the 2021 edition of SMAT and has forged a powerful partnership with Harshit Rana this season. The pacer has the ability to move the ball both ways and also operate at the death overs making him another young talent to look forward to.
- Prasidh Krishna: Prasidh Krishna was a nets bowler for RCB before he was called up to the KKR side as a replacement for Kamlesh Nagarkoti. The pacer picked up 10 wickets from 7 games in his first season in the IPL and has grown from strength to strength, going onto represent the national team in both limited overs formats.
- Iqbal Abdulla - Iqbal was a mainstay in the Knights team from 2008-2013 picking up many crucial wickets while keeping things tight in the middle overs. The left arm spinner was part of Gautam Gambhir’s title winning side in 2012 and picked up 40 wickets in the IPL.
- Andre Russell - After spending 2 seasons with the Delhi Daredevils where he didn’t get too many an opportunity to prove himself, Andre Russell made the switch to KKR thus, beginning an association that is now almost a decade long. In that time, Dre Russ has emerged as one of the most devastating power hitters in the game establishing himself as a mainstay in the KKR lineup and one of the MVPs in the league. The Jamaican allrounder also went on to win the 2016 T20 World Cup with West Indies after his breakout season with KKR.
- Venkatesh Iyer - Not much was known about the lanky left arm power hitter before he took the world by storm with his breakthrough season in 2021 when he scored 370 runs in 10 games to drive KKR’s charge into the finals. Venkatesh went on to represent the national team in T20Is and ODIs and is one of the most destructive top order batsmen in the league.