Calcutta: For Kolkata Knight Riders captain Gautam Gambhir the turnaround, after two wins from their first seven matches, has been satisfying but not surprising.
The Knight Riders confirmed their play-offs berth on Thursday after a convincing victory over Royal Challengers Bangalore at the Eden.
Gambhir said he always believed in his team and backed his boys despite losing four matches in a row.
“I’m pretty relieved... It’s very satisfying. Deep inside my heart, I thought we had enough talent to turn it around. It’s satisfying but not surprising. It has not happened by fluke. We have really worked hard for it. Everybody took responsibility and delivered,” he said.
“The important thing is we lost close matches…. Except for the match in Ranchi, we weren’t beaten convincingly by anyone. We should have finished them, but sometimes freak things happen. We’ve always been competitive and took the game to 19th and 20th overs.
“I have always believed if we can play intelligently and stay a bit more calm as well, we can turn it around. I’ve not changed anything individually, I’ve not changed the fortunes,” he said.
“It’s still a long way to go. The important thing is to turn up in two days time and play with the same passion. The actual tournament starts now,” Gambhir said.
Gambhir said they were keen to remove the chokers tag. “One reason I wanted to chase was that a lot of people were tagging us as chokers... To get that out of our mind, we wanted to chase. That was my personal decision to chase in those five games. I wanted to get rid of the tag that we’re chokers and can’t finish games.
“By chasing five games in a row, it has given the entire unit a lot of confidence,” he said.
“We have played some very good cricket. Deep inside I thought that we have the bowling attack to defend any total. We had the bowling attack to defend anything. It’s just that we’re comfortable chasing. We don’t want to be a side known as chasers only.”
Asked whether it was a masterstroke to let Robin Uthappa open the batting, something that had turned around their fortunes, Gambhir said: “In such a format, it will be the top three who will score the bulk of runs. You have only 120 balls, so somebody at the top will always get the scope to score heavily but I always believe in small contributions as well.
“Someone like Ryan ten Doeschate who struck that important six for us, those three balls (against Hyderabad) were equally important. Unlike others, we always give credit to small contributions.”
On his captaincy, he said: “I maintain captain is always as good as a team. Individual does not have any place in team sport. It’s an honour, I’m only as good as the team.”
Man of the Match Robin Uthappa said doing the basics right helped. “The wicket was nice to bat on. But the ball was stopping a bit towards the end. I just wanted to get my basics right. If you look at how the legends of the game have played, there’s no substitution to getting your basics right and playing the ball on merit.”
Uthappa, who dedicated the award to the supporters, praised Shakib-al Hasan’s 60 off 38 balls. “Shakib was amazing today. He was going absolutely hammer and tongs. I just needed to give him the strike. I knew if I rotated the strike, we could get big runs in the end.”