“It’s a team that wins you matches, individuals only contribute.” This is one statement which Gautam Gambhir has been making repeatedly after winning the IPL matches this year. After a lot of struggle in the previous editions, Kolkata Knight Riders have made it to the final of the Indian Premier League for the first time since its inception in 2008. A lot of credit should be given to Gambhir, who has marshaled his troops to perfection.
He has led from the front coming up with several match-winning knocks, but he has never spoken about individual performances. The only time he mentioned a performance in particular was when he gave away his Man of the Match award to Debabrata Das who had hit a boundary to win a match under pressure.
There has to be a driving force behind Gambhir’s stupendous form and it looks like Gambhir is determined to stop CSK’s winning streak in IPL 2012. Just before the Asia Cup, when the media reported about rift between the players, Gambhir backed Sehwag which didn’t go down well with MS Dhoni. While Dhoni dropped Sehwag for the Asia Cup 2012 (saying that he is unfit), he also played his card by appointing Virat Kohli as his deputy, something which would have hurt Gambhir a lot.
I agree that Kohli proved the decision right by playing phenomenal knocks right through the tournament, but it would be wrong to say that Gambhir was out of form and wasn’t the right choice. Gambhir had to bear the wrath of Dhoni’s dominance for standing against him. When Gautam scored a ton in the Asia Cup, the reaction which followed had a lot to say.
Gambhir has seen much in the last one year. The man who played a pivotal knock of 97 runs in the World Cup final against Sri Lanka wasn’t given the credit as the match is (and will be) fondly remembered for Dhoni’s knock and his straight six that sealed the victory. He has been consistent with his 90s under crunch situations and still hasn’t been applauded for his efforts.
In IPL 2012, his team didn’t do too well initially when he was batting at number three. Kolkata Knight Riders lost their first two matches against Delhi and Rajasthan Royals by 8 wickets and 22 runs respectively. Gambhir managed to score just 16 from the two outings after which he decided to open the innings along with Kallis from where he won several matches for KKR.
It is in this edition that Gambhir has been receiving his due for the match winning performances. He has been praised by veteran cricketers for marshalling his troops extremely well. In one of the matches against Delhi, the left-hander did not even hesitate to exchange few heated words with Mahela Jayawardene who didn’t walk back after nicking a ball to the keeper.
Gambhir has scored six half centuries this season, five of which came in a winning cause. Out of the two matches he has played against the Chennai Super Kings, Gambhir scored 63 runs from 52 balls and 62 runs from 43 balls. The determination to perform well against Dhoni and his boys has kept him going.
Sunday will be a different day - The final of Indian Premier League. The advantage with Gambhir would be that he has the allrounders to match the defending champions. While CSK boasts of cricketers like Albie Morkel, Dwayne Bravo and Ravindra Jadeja, KKR have Shakib Al Hasan and Jacques Kallis who are two of the best in the business.
KKR have done very well so far in the tournament. But facing the defending champions at home in an IPL final will be no cakewalk. Only if Gambhir’s boys manage to stall Chennai’s third straight title win, will his efforts be finally recognised. If not, he would be relegated to the back seat once again.