Calcutta: This edition of the IPL has been the tournament of comebacks — first the Kolkata Knight Riders and then the Mumbai Indians.
For the Knights, captain Gautam Gambhir, who himself was struggling with the bat when IPL VII began, has been an inspirational leader who played the key role in the transformation of the side.
From losing four matches on the trot to winning seven in a row, the Knights have done a remarkable job. For Gambhir, the approach is simple — winning or losing is just a habit for him.
“Sometimes, it is a blessing in disguise that there is no room to get complacent… Especially when I lead the side, there would be no room for complacency, because I feel that winning is a habit, just like losing is a habit.
“Whenever I walk onto the field, I want the team to win, because coming back into a winning dressing room gives a better feeling than getting back into a losing dressing room. So for me, it is all about winning,” Gambhir was quoted as saying by iplt20.com.
With play called off on Tuesday because of rain, Qualifier 1, between the Knights and Kings XI Punjab, will be played on Wednesday, at the Eden.
Gambhir explained that they always knew that they had the team to turn things around. “I think the most important thing was that we knew we had the side to turn things around. Given the strong individuals and the kind of talent we had, it was just a matter of time before we made an impact.
“I knew that we were always there in the mix; it was just that we never crossed the line. The most positive thing that happened in the first seven games was that we were never outplayed by any of the opponents,” Gambhir said.
Coming into the play-offs with an awesome record means that the Knights have peaked at the right time. Gambhir recounted the difficult days early in the tournament when they were losing more than winning.
“After the first seven games, I won’t lie to you, all of us were low… When we went to Delhi (for the Delhi DareDevils game), I still remember everyone was telling me to stop chasing and that we have the bowling to restrict the opposition. It was my personal decision that we have to chase so that we get rid of this tag.
“From there on, we started getting the confidence that we can chase. And then we chased six games in a row, and that shows the character of the team and the character of the individuals in the dressing room as well.
“I am really proud of the guys, the way they have handled pressure and the way they have lived up to the expectations,” the captain said.
Having said that he dislikes complacency, Gambhir made it clear that there were areas where they have to improve. “There is still a lot to work on. If you see, in the last game, we didn’t start off that well.
“The intensity was low. I think we were not disciplined enough in our bowling as well. We really lacked in our fielding too.
“When you get into an important phase like the play-offs, you need to be up for it. We still need to be ready and be disciplined in all three departments,” he said.
As a captain, Gambhir said that his target is to be “transparent and honest”.
“First of all, I think you need to be transparent and honest. You need to be straightforward and figure out if there is something that needs to be sorted.
“If there is something that needs changing, you just try and take it head-on rather than wait for things to happen. I am very proactive in those things,” he said.
“For me, it was all about addressing the big issues… Like when we weren't able to chase in a couple of games, which we should have won easily… I always wanted to chase, so that we could get rid of the tag of chokers,” Gambhir added.
On bowlers Sunil Narine and Morne Morkel, who have been very effective for the Knights, Gambhir said: “If you have a quality attack around Sunil, it makes him even more effective.
“You don't want Sunil to be singled out all the time. He has been our key bowler and our bowling attack revolves around him, but having someone like a Morne Morkel with that kind of pace and bounce just gives us that extra edge up front."