Kolkata Knight Riders injected the boost to the Indian Premier League in the inaugural match of the tournament in 2008. Brendon McCullum slammed unbeaten 158 off 73 balls kickstart the IPL as KKR registered a massive 140-run win over Royal Challengers Bangalore. The former Indian captain Sourav Ganguly was given the responsibility of leading the KKR camp in the initial years. After the first game, KKR didn't live up to the hype and their stardom started to fade away. Being the team co-owned by Bollywood's biggest superstar Shah Rukh Khan, KKR fan-following started to dip after not qualifying to play-offs in initial season.
After a poor show in the first three years of IPL, KKR management took a bold decision to replace Sourav Ganguly by Gautam Gambhir as the captain. Ganguly was not picked by KKR in the auction. Gambhir was in red-hot form during that time and was picked for whopping INR 11.04 crore.
Gambhir was given the responsibility of leading a new KKR side with the likes of Yusuf Pathan, Jacques Kallis, and Sunil Narine. The former Indian opener didn't disappoint the KKR management as he guided the team to a title win the 2012 edition with win over then-defending champions Chennai Super Kings in the final.
Gambhir revealed what KKR co-owner Shah Rukh told him after replacing him with Ganguly as the captain.
“This is your team, make it or break it, I will not interfere… I just promised him one thing, I don’t know where it’s gonna happen but by the time I leave, whether it’s gonna be three years or six years, this franchise will be in a much better position,” Gambhir said in Star Sports show ‘Cricket Connected’.
Gambhir parted ways with KKR in 2018 and rejoined Delhi franchise, but his time with KKR is always cherished by everyone as the Kolkata-based both their IPL titles - 2012 and 2014 under his captaincy.
Earlier the former KKR captain revealed that if Caribbean power-hitter Andre Russell played few more years under his leadership then, the Kolkata-based franchise would have won more IPL titles.
"Imagine Russell going for Rs 50 lakhs to KKR and Pawan Negi for Rs 8 crores to (Delhi) Daredevils. I probably wished that he (Russell) would have been there for seven years when I was playing, we would have certainly won one or two more," Gambhir said while speaking on Star Sports ‘Cricket Connected' show.