Calcutta: Yuvraj Singh has been at the receiving end for his scrappy show in the World T20 final against Sri Lanka, in Dhaka, earlier this month.
But for Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) captain Gambhir Gambhir, Yuvraj continues to be a game-changer irrespective of his current form. In an interview to iplt20.com, Gambhir reveals how badly the franchise wanted his former India teammate, during the auction in Bangalore.
“Yuvi is a match-winner, a once in a lifetime player. We wanted him badly, as he could have been a real game-changer for us.
“I met him after the auction and told him he should thank KKR for those extra four crore he got after aggressive bidding from us. But yes, with Yuvraj in their ranks joining the likes of Virat Kohli — who is in dream form — Chris Gayle and AB de Villiers, the Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) are now a real batting powerhouse,” he said.
On Day I of the auction, it appeared as if the Knights had sealed Yuvraj with Rs 13 crore, but the Royal Challengers went on to clinch the deal at the last moment, paying another crore extra.
Gambhir, however, was happy with the squad at his disposal for IPL VII. “I’m very happy with what we have got. I believe that when you select a player, you do so knowing he can win you matches.
“Therefore, I believe all 21 players we’ve picked are match-winners. I did seek a few players in particular and have got most of them.”
Gambhir admitted that bidding for pacers Morne Morkel, Umesh Yadav and Pat Cummins was done keeping in mind the possibilities of the tournament moving to South Africa.
At the same time, he emphasised on the utility of having strong, fast bowlers in the squad and keeping all bases covered.
“It’s the bowlers who win you matches, irrespective of the format.
“As a captain, I am a big fan of bowlers having raw pace because when you are quick through the air, the surface becomes irrelevant.
“Yes, at the back of my mind, I was thinking on the lines of having an appropriate pace attack in case the tournament moves to South Africa. But now that we are playing in the UAE and India, we still have all bases covered.
“In the past, we have had quality pacers in Brett Lee, Marchant de Lange, James Pattinson and Ryan McLaren. Since we play most of our matches at Eden Gardens, where the wicket is slow and low, we generally field a spin-heavy attack,” the southpaw explained.
Gambhir also elaborated on the reason behind investing on Piyush Chawla, whose last international appearance was way back in December 2012, at a T20I against England, in Mumbai.
“Wrist spinners are wicket-takers and we thought it would be good to have one. We wanted a more experienced hand this time around. Besides, Piyush can also score useful runs down the order,” he pointed out.
Talking about captaincy, Gambhir stressed on the importance of being a leader off the field as well. “I believe that being a leader off the field is as important as being the on-field captain.
“Off the field leadership includes aligning a player to the ideology of the team, helping him ease into the group and dispel any doubts he might have by having a heart-to-heart chat. This is what I try to do while speaking with youngsters during practice sessions.
“Besides, I have had a career filled with highs and lows. I believe I can help the younger players by sharing my experiences with them,” he said.
The Knights, meanwhile, took time off from their rigorous training sessions, in Abu Dhabi, and visited “The Ferrari World” to unwind, on Monday.
“It’s kind of an activity… Spending time together and away from the game, which is important before a big tournament… We really enjoyed it,” Gambhir said.