IPL: People come to see KKR win, not see me smile, says Gautam Gambhir

Mentor and senior batter Manish Pandey figure in first edition of Knights Dugout

Gautam Gambhir at a press meet (photo courtesy: KKR)
Gautam Gambhir at a press meet (photo courtesy: KKR)

NH Sports Bureau

For all the reputation of a stern taskmaster that Gautam Gambhir, the Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) mentor enjoys, there is no dearth of a wry sense of humour in him. The first edition of the Knights Dugout podcast, launched by the KKR social media team ahead of their seventh game against Royal Challengers Bengaluru at the Eden on Sunday, bears ample testimony to it.

Replying to a query from show host Cyrus Broacha about why the intense Gambhir is hardly seen smiling in public, the two-time IPL winning captain said: ‘’People don’t come to watch me smile, people come to see KKR win.’’ His return to the dugout, albeit in the mentor’s avatar, has coincided with a consistent run of the Knights in the first half of the season as they now sit in second position with four wins in six games and a net run-rate of + 1.399.   

While the first episode features Gambhir and senior batter Manish Pandey, the remaining six episodes will feature the likes of captain Shreyas Iyer, Nitish Rana, and Rinku Singh – promising to unearth many an unheard story and anecdotes from their camp.

A significant feature of the Knights’ campaign this season had been Sunil Narine rediscovering his form with the bat – so much so that he has hit the third century for IPL history. Asked about the mystery spinner, his erstwhile teammate, Gambhir lavished praise: “I faced Sunil Narine in his international debut at Indore and within 7-8 balls, I knew he was going to become a legend of the game, especially in T20 cricket.’’

What about his famous equation with the KKR co-owner Shah Rukh Khan, who apparently talked Gambhir to return to the KKR fold, along with a commensurate pay cheque?  ‘’I’ve said numerous times that he (Shah Rukh Khan) is the best owner I’ve ever worked with. In the seven years of my captaincy, we didn’t even have a seven-minute conversation on cricket. During the bad patch, I was on the verge of dropping myself, so I went and spoke to him, and the only thing he told me was that till you are here, you are not going to drop yourself.’’

Pandey, meanwhile, said about Gambhir: ‘’The kind of enthusiasm he brings in all of the players is very inspiring and one can understand the intensity just by looking in his eyes. He backs every player right till the end and supports everyone in a way that you will eventually go out there and give your best for the team.’’

Reminiscing about the IPL 2014 final, the former international said: ‘’It was a very memorable day for me. We were chasing a big score that day and I was in good form so I wanted to go out there and get the win for KKR, glad that  happened.’’

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