|Sunil Narine, at the Eden, on Tuesday. A Telegraph picture
Calcutta: Kolkata Knight Riders captain Gautam Gambhir said on the eve of the IPL-VI opening game against Delhi DareDevils, at Eden Gardens, that his side will play “fearless cricket”.
“We’ve got the monkey off our backs. Being the defending champions does not add to the pressure, it only gives us some extra confidence. Now is the time to go out there and play fearless cricket,” Gambhir said.
He said the Knight Riders would not be affected by Brendon McCullum’s absence, after the New Zealand batsman suffered a hamstring problem, saying there was “a lot of quality in the dressing room.”
“We’ve got a lot of quality in the dressing room. Now is the time to go out there and step up to the opportunity.”
Gambhir stressed that his focus was on performing for his franchise and insisted he was not treating the IPL as platform for a comeback to the national side.
“I see this IPL as being the defending champions. I don’t play for individual gains... I play for a team called KKR and I play as the defending champions… Nothing more than that.”
The DareDevils, too, will be without Morne Morkel, who has been ruled out of their first two matches because of domestic commitments.
Gambhir, however, didn’t wish to deal on individual talent and was concentrating on his team performance.
“We don’t want to talk about how X, Y, Z player would be. We don’t think about particular individuals. We’re playing a game of cricket and it’s a team sport.”
He reiterated on the team aspect and that everyone needs to perform when quizzed on Yusuf Pathan, who had a lean showing in the previous edition.
“It’s not only him, everyone has to fire. I don’t talk about individuals. It’s a team sport. Let’s talk about the team. It gives maximum pleasure if the team does well,” Gambhir explained.
The Knight Riders’ bowlers played a huge role in their triumph last season and Gambhir was quick to praise their efforts.
“It was not only (Sunil) Narine, bowlers like Jacques Kallis, Lakshmipathy Balaji, who was most economical, contributed to the team’s cause as well. We all are ready for the challenge tomorrow.”
Gambhir, incidentally, had dedicated the final victory in 2012 to the Tamil Nadu pacer, who was forced to sit out in the final.
Gambhir hoped the newly laid Eden Gardens wicket would bring him and the team luck.
“We just want to play quality cricket and ensure that all areas are covered. We don’t talk much about the wicket. The surface is newly laid and we hope it turns out lucky for us and help us start on a winning note,” he said.
Coach Trevor Bayliss, who was present at the press conference, lauded Brett Lee’s role as mentor-cum-player.
“Brett has done a good job so far. We have had three-four practice sessions together. He has played a permanent role. I’m sure as we go along, the team will benefit from his contribution,” Bayliss said.