We are very much in championship race: Gambhir

May 07, 2013, 09:23 IST | Harit N Joshi

KKR skipper Gambhir would look to take inspiration from last season as defending champs aim to put their campaign back on track when they clash with Mumbai Indians today

Defending champions Kolkata Knight Riders find themselves in a similar situation to last year. There were doubts whether KKR would make it to the Top Four.

However, six timely wins in a row towards the business end of the 2012 edition played a huge role in qualifying for the play-offs. They eventually ended up winning the title for the first time as well.

KKR skipper Gautam Gambhir bats in the nets on the eve of their IPL clash with Mumbai Indians at the Wankhede Stadium. PIC/Suresh KK

They are looking for a similar turnaround this year. And KKR couldn’t have asked for a better opportunity to expect a change of fortunes than today’s crucial tie against Mumbai Indians at the Wankhede Stadium.

Despite starting the sixth edition of Pepsi IPL on a winning note, Gautam Gambhir’s men seemed to have lost their way. The string of losses has dented their confidence. And with just four wins from 11 games, it is time KKR make every opportunity count.

“We are very much in the race. I haven’t heard anyone say that we’re out. A lot of people are saying that we need to win five out of five. But if you see in the last three years, teams have qualified in the Top Four with eight wins. We are not thinking about the play-offs right now, but we want to win as many games as we can from here,” Gambhir said on match eve.

It will be a daunting task for Kolkata against Mumbai Indians, who have everything going their way. Rohit Sharma’s men have been unbeatable in five games at home. They are coming into this match with a morale-boosting 60-run win against table-toppers Chennai Super Kings on Sunday. Mumbai can also boast of having a brilliant record against Kolkata, winning nine matches out of 11.

Gambhir, however, said there wouldn’t be any change of approach against Mumbai. “Whether it’s the start or the end of a tournament, we always go out there to win. The desperation is always there. Till now, we have approached every game with the same hunger and desperation. It’s not that we are desperate to win only because we are in a position like this. We have to look at the remaining games like any other rather than thinking it’s a must-win situation,” he said.

Apart from Gambhir (320 runs in 11 matches) and Eoin Morgan (278 runs in 11 matches), the likes of Jacques Kallis (219 runs in 11 matches & 11 wickets), Yusuf Pathan (177 runs in 11 matches) and 2012 IPL final star Manvinder Bisla (210 runs in nine matches) have struggled to get going. Yusuf in particular has been off-colour apart from his unbeaten 49 in the last match against RR.

Gambhir stressed on small contributions. “In the T20 format, you’re never in or out of form. For me, in this format, small contributions make a big difference. If someone goes in the end overs and chases down 20 runs in two overs, that contribution makes a huge difference and wins you the game,” said Gambhir.  

Gautam Gambhir’s wishlist
>> He gets runs after a few failures
>> Jacques Kallis contributes with bat and ball
>> Yusuf Pathan finally scores a half-century
>> Sunil Narine runs through the opposition
>> Mumbai bowlers have an off day

Rohit Sharma’s wishlist
>> Sachin Tendulkar anchors the innings
>> He and Karthik get going once again
>> Mitchell Johnson continues the good work
>> Eoin Morgan departs early
>> Sunil Narine goes for runs  

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