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'KKR, Inshallah, will win the IPL this year'

Last updated on: February 14, 2012 23:49 IST

KKR has hogged limelight thanks to SRK's excellent marketing acumen

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Bikash Mohapatra

At the launch of Kolkata Knight Riders' new logo in Mumbai on Monday, team owner Shah Rukh Khan spoke of the team underperforming, the acquisition of a new bunch of players and the hope of winning the fifth edition of the IPL.

To say it is the most high-profile team in the Indian Premier League (IPL) would be an understatement.

But when Shah Rukh Khan bought Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) -- along with his partners Juhi Chawla and Jay Mehta -- in 2008, it ensured the new franchise would keep hogging the limelight. Blame it on King Khan's excellent marketing acumen!

To give credit where it is due, the superstar has over the years done his bit (and more) as the owner. Be it getting the best players, the top coaches (John Buchanan, Dav Whatmore, Wasim Akram to name a few), highly-skilled back room staff or firing all cylinders in promoting the franchise as a brand -- the teaser for the fifth edition was on air a good four months before the start of the tournament.

However, it won't be an exaggeration to say his team has failed him.


Image: Kolkata Knight Riders owners Shah Rukh Khan, Juhi Chawla and husband Jai Mehta at the unveiling of the new logo in Mumbai on Tuesday
Photographs: Pradeep Bandekar

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'We have not been up to the mark so far'

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Not once in the four editions played thus far has KKR finished in the top three -- a disappointing sixth-place finish in the opening season was followed by the proverbial wooden spoon in the second (KKR finished eighth when the IPL was played in South Africa).

The third edition witnessed the team finish sixth again, and the fourth, after a slew of high profile purchases and initial promise, had them end up in fourth place.

 To his credit, SRK didn't shy away from accepting his team's failure.

"We have not been up to the mark so far, whatever are the reasons," he admitted on Monday, during a presser at a suburban hotel to launch a new marketing campaign (New Dawn, New Knights) coupled with the unveiling of a brand new logo.


Image: Shah Rukh Khan and Juhi Chawla
Photographs: Pradeep Bandekar

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'KKR, Inshallah, will win the IPL this year'

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The positivity remained in tact, though.

"It has been a big journey for us. The ideology has always been about playing the game in the right spirit and we have done that," said Shah Rukh, proceeding to explain it was only in the fourth edition that his team had got together.

"Last year, it was the beginning of a new beginning for us," he said, adding, "and this year we will try and play much better than we have done so far.

"KKR, inshallah, will lift the trophy this year. I say this every year, but, hopefully, the team will make it happen this time."

Image: Team owner Shah Rukh Khan with KKR team and management
Photographs: Pradeep Bandekar

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'Bayliss has proven credentials as a coach'

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The co-owner of Kolkata Knight Riders also took the opportunity to introduce the new additions to his squad, including the coach.

"Dav (Whatmore) had some commitments. So we have got Trevor (Bayliss) on board," he explained.

"He has proven credentials as a coach," he added, before proceeding to talk about his three new acquisitions (players).

In the auction preceding the fifth edition, the Kolkata franchise re-acquired the services of New Zealander Brendon McCullum ($ 900,000) besides adding promising West Indies spinner Sunil Narine ($ 700,000) and South African bowler Marchant de Lange ($ 50,000).

Image: Trevor Bayliss


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'McCullum keeps the spirits high in the dressing room'

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"McCullum was one of our most steadfast and important members. However, lack of funds meant we couldn't cling onto him," he went on to explain, adding, "We are happy to welcome him back.

"He keeps the spirits high in the dressing room no matter we win or lose."

The superstar was equally effusive in his praise of the two new entrants.

"Hopefully, Sunil (Narine) will add weight to our existing spinning options, Iqbal (Abdulla) and Shakib (Al Hasan)," he said.

"Not many may have heard about him (Marchant De Lange). But then James Pattinson wasn't a known entity when we got him last year," added Shah Rukh.

Image: Brendon McCullum


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'This tournament is going to sustain'

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The actor was also categorical in denying that the drop in television ratings was an indication of IPL's declining popularity, after the initial hype and the many controversies surrounding the fledgling tournament.

"Don't write it off," he warned.

"This tournament is going to sustain," he added, before making an allusion to his own self.

"All things that are popular become controversial. I am sure the IPL will go into permanence in the next few years."

The superstar made his point clear.

Image: Shah Rukh Khan
Photographs: Pradeep Bandekar
Tags: IPL

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