Gambhir & Pandit: The unlikely combo that delivered

Last Updated : 27 May 2024, 15:07 IST
Last Updated : 27 May 2024, 15:07 IST

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Chennai: Gautam Gambhir’s petulant display of abrasion maybe off-putting. Chandrakant Pandit’s ‘militant’ style of coaching may not have gone down well with a few players. Moreover, the perpetual glum look on their faces often belies their team's fortunes -- as it did on Sunday night.   

Kolkata Knight Riders bowled Sunrisers Hyderabad out for 113 on Sunday night. Kolkata’s batters were cruising towards title. 

The camera panned on the mentor and the coach, respectively. Their faces wore the same disdain for joy. Only assistant coach Abhishek Nayar, sitting to their right, smiled.

Gambhir and Pandit couldn’t have been bothered. They knew they had a job to do. It was not over, not even when one run was needed from 58 remaining deliveries.  

Only when the final run was scored did they celebrate. Plenty of awkward hugging and kissing ensued, and they seemed to atypically embrace the moment. 

But, no one - save for the management, and even that’s a big maybe - would have predicted that these two characters could work together, least of all deliver Kolkata a title.

Gambhir is one of the most successful Indian cricketers of all time with a T20 World Cup title and a 50-over World Cup title to his name. And yet, he operates as if he has something to prove. 

Pandit has five Ranji Trophy titles to his name, including two for Mumbai, two with Vidarbha and one with Madhya Pradesh in 2022. And yet, he operates as if he has something to prove.

When Pandit was given the reins to Kolkata in 2023, many questioned the call, saying the man who is known to slap a cricketer or two at the domestic level, can’t adapt to working with international talent or the superstars of the league. 

When Gambhir was signed on as a mentor with the side he had earlier led to two titles in 2012 and 2014, there was no doubt that he was the man for the job, owing to his impressive cricketing acumen. But what of his temperament? 

Gambhir doesn’t take fools lightly. Hell, he rarely acknowledges them. Pandit is identical.

So, Kolkata were going to have to shelve the good cop-bad cop routine. Instead, they were going to have two bad cops with Nayar in the background allaying any potential trauma.

In an interview recently, Pandit said: “I never allow anyone to be bigger than the game. So, I always try to maintain myself. I try to make the boys realise that no one should be above the game, and for that to happen, I need to be calm and cool because I play certain roles from the outside, and fortunately or unfortunately, the bowlers and the captains always look forward to those suggestions. They keep making those changes immediately.”

Gambhir is cut from the same cloth. He might not be the one taking calls on the fly for Kolkata, but as a mentor, he doesn’t take no for an answer.

That’s the thing, these are not leaders who are afraid of failing. In fact, they have become these people by virtue of failing as much as they have on their respective journeys. They are not in the business of demanding greatness, they demand all-out effort every time their players cross the rope. Success is but a byproduct. 

So, it hardly matters what their expressions are as long as they’re reflecting off of glistening trophies on nights such as Sunday.

Published 27 May 2024, 15:07 IST

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