Shah Rukh tonic behind the resurgence of Kolkata Knight Riders

Shah Rukh Khan with Gautam Gambhir and KKR staffs
Shah Rukh Khan with Gautam Gambhir and KKR staffs (PC: X)

It was May 1. The Indian team for the T20 World Cup was announced a day earlier. Rinku Singh of Kolkata Knight Riders had not made the cut for the mega event in the USA and West Indies.

A visibly low Rinku was spotted entering the Kolkata airport along with team owner Shah Rukh Khan. They were leaving for the match against Mumbai Indians. The superstar was by Rinku’s side, trying to console him and cheer him up. It looked as if an elder brother was lifting the spirits of a younger one.

Two days prior to the match against Delhi Capitals on April 28, King Khan made a surprise visit to Eden Gardens during a KKR practice session. It was the first time in the franchise’s history that its principal owner had turned up during training. Shah Rukh, who was with his son Abram, spent time with the likes of Andre Russell, Sunil Narine, Shreyas Iyer, Rinku and team mentor Gautam Gambhir. He watched patiently, as the players went through their routines.

In their previous match, KKR had lost to Punjab Kings despite amassing 261 runs. Following the unexpected loss, the team owner spent time with his boys in the dressing room.

“There are days in our lives, in sports especially, when we don’t deserve to lose. And there are days when we don’t deserve to win,” Shah Rukh told captain Shreyas and his boys. “I think today we didn’t deserve to lose. All of us played extremely well. We have to be very, very proud of ourselves. Please don’t feel sad or down. Feel as happy as we feel whenever we come to the changing room. We are on a high, so maintain the high,” were his words.

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Shah Rukh Khan at KKR practice session at Eden
Shah Rukh Khan at KKR practice session at Eden (PC: Debasis Sen)

Shah Rukh did not travel back to Mumbai immediately after the match, which he normally does due to his busy schedule. He stayed back in the city he was the brand ambassador of, before Sourav Ganguly replaced him. For five days, he was in Kolkata, showing his involvement with the team. The players repaid the support of their owner, beating Delhi Capitals comprehensively by seven wickets.

In his dressing room speech, Shah Rukh thanked each member of the side for showing character. “God bless you all. Nice to see Varun taking those catches. Nice to see Sunil running so hard. Nice to see all of you smiling and so happy. God bless you all.”

“The coach says it’s me who is coming and making you guys win. So, next time, if I’m not there, just try harder without me. I will try to be there and assist you guys and do all that I do. Thank you very much, and be healthy,” Shah Rukh said in front of the entire team.

This increased involvement reflects Shah Rukh’s renewed commitment to the team, especially after it failed to qualify for the playoffs in the past two editions.

Inspired by the unwavering support and engagement of their superstar owner, players like Narine, Phil Salt and Russell delivered stellar performances, supported by rookies like Harshit Rana, Angkrish Raghuvanshi and Vaibhav Arora. With 16 points from 11 games, KKR are top of the table, ahead of Rajasthan Royals on run rate.

Could all this lead to a repeat of 2012, when KKR clinched their maiden IPL title? Time will tell. But it’s unmistakable that the chemistry between Gambhir and King Khan is fuelling hopes of a triumphant resurgence from the ‘Korbo Lorbo Jeetbo Re’ brigade.

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