Gambhir finds his range on KKR's night

Gambhir finds his range on KKR's night

Gambhir finds his range on KKR's night

There was a time when Gautam Gambhir used to stoke the fire in you with his fighting spirit and fearless stroke play. At the crease, he was more like a boxer, snarling at the opposition, always looking for that chance to land the knockout blow.

But at some stage Gambhir lost the fire. He began to live in the world of excuses and denials – pitches became absolute green tops where only Don Bradman could have survived, in his thoughts he was making important runs even though an international century eluded him for a considerable time. It was an unfamiliar Gambhir.

But at Eden Gardens, the familiar Gambhir surfaced on Wednesday. Opening the innings for the Kolkata Knight Riders, the little left-hander from Delhi made a 29-ball 42, a throwback to the days when he formed a lethal combination with his City-mate – Virender Sehwag.

Delhi Daredevils, his former franchise, could post only 128 and was trying to regain lost ground through Irfan Pathan, who bowled a maiden in the opening over. Sensing the danger of getting caged, Gambhir attacked the Baroda man, milking him for a four and six in successive deliveries to grab the momentum back.

“You just need to back yourself and be innovative,” Gambhir said after the game. “You don’t change your stance or anything. You just need to be more pro-active and innovative and at the same time, you need to be aggressive. I have always believed that whatever format I play, my instincts are to be attacking,” Gambhir said. 

Gambhir, indeed, was aggressive on the night, walking down the pitch to Irfan and smashing him over his favoured point region and long-on. The Knight Riders’ skipper revealed his mindset.

“I don’t want to be in that mode where I am looking to survive. That is where a lot of problems can surface. When you are looking to attack, when you are looking to score runs, that’s where your footwork is better and you are able to go towards the ball. Your basic game remains the same but the most important thing is that you need to be more pro-active,” he added.

Gambhir was on top of his game as a skipper as well at the Eden. His bowling changes were spot-on and he pepped up his team-mates, chatting constantly with them. But he didn’t take the credit for himself.

“I have always believed and said that those moves can only be successful if I have quality players. It’s those quality players who make those moves successful moves. So a lot of credit goes to them, specially the bowling department.

“Sunil (Narine) was outstanding and so was Bala and Brett. There is no better start to the tournament than when you get a wicket off the first ball. And so was Rajat, normally very under-rated but his four overs have always been very important for us,” he said.

Gambhir wasn’t even ready to bank on the home advantage theory. “For me, there is no home advantage. It is only about playing good cricket. We don’t even discuss the wicket in the dressing room. We are ready to play on any kind of track and against any opposition.”

However, the diplomat in Gambhir came out soon. “Eden is known for that. 70,000 people cheering for KKR is a great plus. That can be a heart-breaker for any opposition. I’ve played the first three years for Delhi, and I don’t think they (Delhi crowd) were as loyal to DD as the Eden crowd is to KKR.”

The night at the Eden showedGambhir at his best – as skipper, batsman and statesman. Perhaps, a first step towards regaining his presence in blue and white shirts.

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