Cricket is a sport that is played by a lot of people around the around the world, as well as internationally among many countries, such as Australia, England, India among many others. This simple game of bat and ball carries lots of emotions for the true fan of the sport. Cricket fans view the game as a religion, the same way football fans look at football.

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Shah Rukh Khan, co-owner of Kolkata Knight Riders

Following the commercialisation of cricket, a lot of money has become involved. Tournaments such as the Indian Premier LeagueBig Bash League and Caribbean Premier League offer players handsome amounts to be a participant. No one complains because fans enjoy a lot and everyone involved in making these tournaments take place, make money off of it.

However, as an ardent cricket fan, I do not care about the money involved; I just watch the sport for the heck of it. I consider the IPL to be a religion (cricket fan) and I have been loyal to the Kolkata Knight Riders, ever since the tournament began, in 2008. The reasons were partly because I am a Bengali from Kolkata, and partly because Shah Rukh Khan is one of my favourites.

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Brendon McCullum of KKR on his way to 158 off 73 in the inaugural match of the IPL

Anyone who is a new or recent KKR fan will know that the journey so far as been a smooth sail. But, that wasn’t always the case. They played the inaugural match against the Royal Challengers Bangalore which they won by 140 runs. However, they failed to make a mark in the rest of the season and ended 6th on the table, after 6 wins and 7 losses. The following year was worse, as they won only 3 games out of 14, ending at the bottom of the table. 2010 was a respite, as they managed to win 7 games out of 14. However, they still failed to make it to the playoffs.

 

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The table of IPL 2009, showing KKR at the bottom of the table

Being a KKR fan during those times were difficult. It meant getting used to being disappointed on a regular basis and being made fun of after a loss, be it small or big. However, that did not take out the enjoyment factor, as each and every match provided entertainment.

As the 2011 edition approached, we fans prayed for a good season, and they successfully answered. After a complete revamp of the team, which included the change of coaches and the captain, the season was a successful one for the team. KKR finished fourth, which meant that they had made it to the playoffs. Even though they lost in the playoffs, it was a pleasure for the fans of the team and brand to watch them make it to the knockout stage.

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Sourav Ganguly, the first captain of KKR, from 2008-2010

Needless to say, the results had a great impact on the fans of KKR. After 3 very dry and saddening seasons, 2011 came with better results. It was something to rejoice and celebrate. Captain Gautam Gambhir definitely did a job with the team, and we fans are always thankful to him.

2012 was a much, much better year for KKR as they won the title. After a weak start with two losses in two games, they managed to strengthen their position and win 10 games out of 16 and draw one. They ended second on the table by the end of the league stage and managed to win the first playoff game against Delhi Daredevils. Soon, they faced Chennai Super Kings, the strongest team in the tournament, in the final. KKR made the most of the mistakes made by CSK and managed to win the match, and the title.

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Manvinder Bisla of KKR during his 89 off 48 during the finals of the 2012 IPL

After the title win, the fans were renewed with hope and believed that the team was finally strong, capable of winning more titles. However, 2013 was miserable as they showed glimpses of their pre-2011 failures and ended 7th on the table, out of 9 teams. Once again, the fans were dejected and unhappy with the performance.

2014 was no different, as KKR managed to win only 2 games out of their first 7. However, with a change in style of play and added determination, KKR managed to win all the remaining 7 games, including having to chase 161 runs within 15 overs against Sunrisers Hyderabad in order to make it to the top 2. With the help of Yusuf Pathan’s monstrous 72 off 22, KKR made it to the top 2, along with the formidable Kings XI Punjab. Like 2012, KKR won the qualifier match and booked their place in the final.

Having to face the same team again, everyone thought it would be a walk in the park (as KKR dominated KXIP throughout the tournament), but that was not the case. Batting first, KXIP managed to put on 199 runs, with Wriddhiman Saha scoring 115 of them alone. KKR started their chase rockily, with a few wickets falling upfront. However, everyone who batted in the innings contributed, with Manish Pandey scoring a splendid 94 off 50 to help KKR win the game comfortably with Piyush Chawla hitting the winning runs.

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Manish Pandey of KKR on his way to 94 off 50 in the finals of IPL 2014

The fans were ecstatic after the win and thought the team was among the ranks of one of the strongest teams in the tournament. Sure enough, that was the case. Years of unconditional support from the fans and hard work by the team, it all paid off. Before 2011, they were nothing and regarded as the weakest team. After 2014, they were the team with 2 IPL titles, a feat also achieved only by CSK. The fans were proud, and the team, prouder.

Everyone expected KKR to do well following the 2014 win, but the next 2 seasons did not go their way. Ending at 5th in 2015, it wasn’t a pleasant year. 2016 had a very little respite, with KKR losing to SRH in the first eliminator against the eventual winner of 2016.

As a die hard KKR fan for the 10th successive year, it is difficult to not support the team. We have seen KKR lose, and KKR win and felt a variety of emotions whenever they won or lost, but having stayed with the team since the very beginning has definitely paid off in the end. It is irrational to expect the team we support each and every time to win the trophy, but it was definitely a treat to watch them give it all in the field, whether they win, lose or drop catches.


 

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