Shreyas Iyer not the only unsung hero for KKR in triumphant IPL 2024 campaign

Yes, Gautam Gambhir unlocked the true potential of the highly talented KKR class of 2024. However, the likes of captain Shreyas Iyer, and coaches Chandrakant Pandit, Bharat Arun and Abhishek Nayar also deserve credit for their envious winning campaign in IPL 2024.
Shreyas Iyer not the only unsung hero for KKR in triumphant IPL 2024 campaign
Jaano Junction

Shah Rukh Khan was a busy man after KKR won their third IPL title. The Bollywood superstar had a long list of players and support staff to meet and greet following the Knight Riders' incredible run in the 2024 season. Shah Rukh kissed Gautam Gambhir's forehead, acknowledging his immense contribution to the team, embraced head coach Chandrakant Pandit, and shared warm embraces with assistant coach Abhishek Nayar and captain Shreyas Iyer at the MA Chidambaram Stadium in Chennai as the KKR stars celebrated their title triumph.

Table-toppers KKR played like champions throughout the season. They finished the league stage at the top of the points table with only three defeats in 14 matches. They dominated SRH twice in the playoffs, including the final, to win the coveted trophy. KKR took more wickets than any other team in IPL 2024-110 in total. They bowled out their opponents six times, the most by any team in an IPL season, and scored at a run rate of close to 11-the highest of the season. Six of their bowlers took more than 10 wickets each, and four of their batters scored over 300 runs. KKR's campaign was one of the most dominant in IPL history, rivalled only by Mumbai's ruthless run in 2020.

Gautam Gambhir will grab headlines for his impact in his first year as the mentor. The title-winning former captain added the finishing touches to an already strong team on paper, turning them into a winning machine.

Gambhir deserves much credit for KKR's fairytale run in IPL 2024. From his presence at the auction table last year to being a proud mentor on the night of the big final, KKR's former captain has been a guiding light for the franchise. The trust he has enjoyed from the owners, including Shah Rukh Khan, has trickled down, working wonders for the talented players and support staff.

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Shreyas Iyer not the only unsung hero for KKR in triumphant IPL 2024 campaign

Gambhir walked the talk. He spoke about playing KKR's brand of cricket and aimed for the big prize with a singular, steely resolve. How veterans Andre Russell and Sunil Narine played in the season speaks volumes about Gambhir's ability to bring the best out of his men.

Gambhir proved his man-management skills, emphasizing that the mental aspect of the game is as important as anything else in a major tournament.

With KKR sealing their third title, Gambhir, the man manager, seems to be the frontrunner for the India coach job. If he accepts, the BCCI might gladly give him the responsibility of managing the senior national team for the next three years.

It's hard to downplay Gambhir's impact on KKR's fortunes, but there are several unsung heroes who helped sculpt the incredible campaign for the three-time champions.

"Shreyas Iyer, I am hearing a lot about Gautam Gambhir, who has created a magnificent culture in the KKR team. But this guy, I don't think he is getting enough credit. I have said this in the past. They came after me for saying this on social mediaâ€æ Shreyas Iyer needs some credit," said legendary Ian Bishop on Sunday, reiterating his stance during commentary in the final.

Shreyas Iyer never looked rushed or under pressure throughout the IPL 2024 season. He exuded confidence whenever he was marshalling the troops. The usual swagger returned as Iyer slowly but surely hit peak form with the bat, finishing the season with 351 runs in 15 matches.

Iyer worked with Gambhir, coach Chandrakant Pandit, and Abhishek Nayar – three strong characters – and still managed to leave his mark on the team. Under Iyer's leadership, KKR looked assured more often than not.

Iyer never let his pre-tournament form and the chatter around him affect his approach. Despite struggling with a back injury, losing out on the BCCI central contract, and being excluded from the T20 World Cup, the man from Mumbai remained calm and composed.

It's no coincidence that Shreyas Iyer is the only IPL captain to have led two different teams to the final-Delhi in 2020 and KKR in 2024.

Despite initial concerns about Chandrakant Pandit's tough methods, the domestic cricket doyen handled his job professionally. The combination of Gambhir and Pandit worked seamlessly throughout the season, ironing out flaws and filling gaps evident last year.

With six Ranji Trophy titles with three different teams and now an IPL trophy, Chandrakant's CV is only getting better.

Much has been said about Abhishek Nayar's role in reviving the careers of several Indian stars. Known as one of the finest coaches, Nayar worked closely with many experienced players, bringing out their best.

It was no surprise when Varun Chakravarthy, KKR's leading wicket-taker of IPL 2024, highlighted Nayar's contribution to the success of the domestic players in the season.

"This has been a great season for me. All I can think of now is the person who has built the Indian core-Abhishek Nayar," Varun told the broadcasters after KKR's title triumph.

The competition between KKR's pacers and their famous spin duo was intense. While Varun and Narine performed consistently, KKR also benefited from the improved performance of their pacers, especially the uncapped bowlers – Harshit Rana (19 wickets) and Vaibhav Arora (11 wickets).

Bharat Arun's ability to mould pace-bowling stars was well-documented during his successful tenure as the bowling coach of Team India from 2017 to 2021. Arun seems to have worked his magic at KKR too.

Even Mitchell Starc took time to adapt to Indian conditions after returning to the IPL for the first time in nine years. When Starc got going, it was magical as the big-game player delivered when it mattered most for the Knight Riders.

"Mitch (Starc) coming into the team boosted the confidence of the other youngsters. He has been one of the best bowlers in world cricket and has been in such situations before. It's about understanding Indian conditions, and once he did that, it was magic all over," Arun said on Sunday, highlighting the leader's role that Starc played.

Not to forget assistant coach Ryan ten Doeschate, who worked closely with Gautam Gambhir in IPL 2024.

KKR's ruthless winning machine is undoubtedly the sum of many moving parts. Gambhir certainly re-ignited the fire, but it took more than just that to race down oppositions and lift the trophy on Sunday.

"There was no one individual who took us here; it was a cumulative effort. It was a flawless season for us," said Shreyas Iyer, perfectly summing up the Knight Riders' march to glory.

Source: India Today

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