Kolkata Knight Riders set to leave Gambhir from retention list

With the franchises set to submit their list of players for retention by January 4, Sportstar understands the Kolkata-based franchise is most likely not to retain its most successful captain.

Gautam Gambhir hasn’t heard from Kolkata Knight Riders to discuss his future at the club.   -  Akhilesh Kumar

Gautam Gambhir’s recent interview with a television channel suggested his future at Kolkata Knight Riders - the club he captained to Indian Premier League title wins in 2012 and 2014 - was uncertain. Earlier this week, Gambhir had said he hadn’t heard from the club to discuss his possible retention.

With the franchises set to submit their list of players for retention by January 4, Sportstar understands the Kolkata-based franchise is most likely not to retain its most successful captain. Instead, if things fall in place, the franchise, co-owned by Shah Rukh Khan, is likely to opt for Sunil Narine. Andre Russell, who returns to mainstream cricket after a year-long ban, is also likely to be given a longer rope.

However, with the Right to Match card option now available, the two-time champion side does have an option of picking Gambhir from the auctions. But why would the club want to part ways with its skipper?

Changing priorities

Sources who have closely followed the trend over the years indicate that with the dynamics of the league changing, the priorities of the franchises seem to have changed as well. These days, success is looked at not necessarily through the lens of big names or runs — a lot depends on the strike-rate. But then, Gambhir amassed 498 runs last season, with a strike rate of 124.60.

Interestingly, Narine, a part-time batsman, who also opened the innings for KKR last season — has a strike rate of 172.30.

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Yet, these considerations may not have anything to do with KKR’s possible decision on Gambhir.

In the interview earlier this week, Gambhir had said he was open to play for any franchise in the next edition of the IPL. “It is surprising that I have not spoken to anyone (in KKR management). I don’t know about myself (future with KKR). We’ll probably sit and talk after the Ranji final. But yes I am (open to playing for any franchise),” Gambhir had said, indicating that his future at the Kolkata franchise is bleak.

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If Gambhir and KKR do part ways, this will not be the first time the club will have released its captain. In 2011, it had released its first captain, Sourav Ganguly, who went unsold in the auctions and was later picked by the now defunct Pune Warriors.

With a huge fan base, Gambhir had since been able to connect well with the brand. Now, with no word from KKR on the matter, it would be interesting to see how things unfold in the next few days.