Sticking to core group paying off for KKR: Gambhir
For four seasons of the Indian Premier League, Kolkata Knight Riders were one of the major punching bags, for oppositions, for media, and for cricket fans.
They went from one low to the other, including the longest losing streak in the IPL in 2009, a record that was broken by Pune Warriors India this season.
But all that is a thing of past and what stands up in front of all fans is a new KKR, a team that has comprehensively beaten almost every team in the IPL-V, and that includes beating table toppers Delhi Daredevils twice. Is it only the leadership of Gautam Gambhir, one wonders. It’s much more than that, skipper himself points out.
“It’s basically about sticking to the core group of players. I have been asked various times this season why I keep playing certain players. I believe in sticking to core group of players,” the left-handed opener said after the team’s win over Daredevils on Tuesday, which took them to the final for the first time.
“It’s important to show faith in them, so that they can stand up to such situations. I was asked why I keep playing Yusuf Pathan, and I kept saying, ‘it’s just a matter of time before he does something magical when it matters the most’, and that’s what he has done today.
“It’s about showing trust in the players who are in your dressing room. It’s not about chopping and changing because that takes a team nowhere. It’s about showing faith in your dressing room, whoever is seating in the KKR dressing room, whether it’s Yusuf Pathan or Sanju Samson, if there was no faith in any of them, they wouldn’t be seating in our dressing room,” Gambhir explained in one breath.
And sticking to the core group also means, to a certain extent, not giving a chance to Brett Lee, who is reportedly upset at seating on the bench. “It’s not about Brett Lee, it’s not about individuals, it’s about KKR. It’s about the XI that we believe is going to go out there and win the game for us. No individual is bigger than KKR, from me to Jack Kallis to no one,” comes another one-breath answer.
The other crucial point, according to the KKR skipper, is the small but important contributions that make the difference. “The knock that Laxmi Ratan Shukla played today (24 runs, 11 balls), the 2-3 overs Rajat (Bhatia) bowled economically, getting a crucial wicket, that’s what wins you the matches.
“It’s not about someone who bats at the top and scores 60-70. It’s those small contributions that win you games.”