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Narine gets Gambhir’s support

Bangalore: Kolkata Knight Riders captain Gautam Gambhir on Saturday came out in support of Sunil Narine’s decision to prefer playing in the IPL over representing the West Indies in the Test series versus New Zealand.

“It is unfair on the player... His team (Kolkata Knight Riders) has reached the final and he is being forced to miss it. Somewhere down the line, you, as a cricketer, don’t want to do that… Just one game is left and you have to depart...

“He has taken the right decision, he wanted to continue playing for KKR because it is an important game, not a dead rubber. Any player would have taken this decision, so I completely support him. If I were in his position, I would have done the same thing,” said Gambhir, during a joint media conference with Kings XI Punjab counterpart George Bailey.

He refused to agree to the view that the Knight Riders’ attack was dependent on the off spinner. “I personally do not believe that our bowling only revolves around Narine. Morne (Morkel) has been brilliant, Piyush (Chawla) has bowled really well… So has Shakib (al Hasan) and Umesh (Yadav).

“So it’s not about only one individual. The rest of the bowlers have complemented him well… The entire bowling group has done a fantastic job throughout the tournament.”

Gambhir didn’t wish to undermine Kings XI’s strength. “We rate Kings XI as a very dangerous side and a quality side. We really have to play well in all three departments to beat them. We cannot think about the weakness of the opposition, we need to focus more on our strengths.

“That is how we have gone in this tournament and we will continue to do that Sunday as well. We rate them as a quality side and, as I said, we have to play quality cricket.

“I agree with George (Bailey) that you don’t want to do anything differently. I think ultimately, it is still a game of cricket which needs to be played well. It’s another game of cricket.

“I know that the pressure will be equal on both sides… Whoever can hold nerves for long periods of time and whoever can do the basics well, will end up being the winner. We don’t want to think too much about it being a final… We just want to continue the way we have been playing and that is what matters tomorrow as well,” explained the Knight Riders captain.

He was ecstatic about buddy Virender Sehwag’s century against the Chennai Super Kings on Friday. “I loved it… There was no doubt that he would click at some point. A big match player will put his hand up in such situations.

“As George said, he was hitting the ball very well. It was very pleasing to the eye. It was about spending some time at the crease, and that is what he did in the last game. I was very happy. I have always believed that he is the greatest match-winner that India has ever had.”

Gambhir dismissed having mixed emotions when they take on each other in the final. “I believe that no individual is bigger than the team. I believe that when we take the field, we must perform… Viru will be thinking about getting me out early, and we will think along the same lines.

“When I represent KKR, I want to do well, and the same holds for him. We have a lot of respect for each other, but friendship holds off the cricket field, not on it.”

Gambhir didn’t think it would be contest between Knight Riders’ bowling and Kings XI’s batting. “To reach the final of such a high-profile tournament and such a long tournament, you need to do well in all three departments of the game. You can’t just say it’s our bowling versus their batting…

“Kings XI have done well in all three departments of the game and so have we. You can’t just depend upon your bowling, thinking it’s going to take you to the final. Somewhere down the line, we have done well with our batting as well and vice versa.”