Gautam Gambhir comes across as an angry young man. He found his match in fellow Delhi-ite and India team-mate in Virat Kohli three years ago when Kolkata Knight Riders and Royal Challengers Bangalore came face-to-face in a 2013 IPL match in Bengaluru. The captains of their respective teams almost came to blows before being separated.
Down the years, Gambhir and Kohli have gone different ways as far as their international careers are concerned. Gambhir is almost a forgotten man, having last played for the country in August 2014 while Kohli has become one of the world’s best batsman and successful in all formats, even going on to take over the Test captaincy reins after Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s retirement from the longer format.
Gambhir still had all admiration for his citymate Kohli. Asked what made Kohli click at the rate that he is doing now-a-days, Gambhir said: “Confidence is very important. I think sometimes you want to keep doing the same things to prolong your form and he has been doing that really well. Obviously, consistency is very important in all forms of the game and he has shown how consistent he is and that is what you strive for, that is what you wish for in international cricket that you can continue that form for as long as possible. He has been doing that and hopefully he can continue in the same vein.”
Speaking of consistency, Gambhir is keen that KKR, which is topping the table, carries on in the same vein. KKR reached the city from Pune to play Mumbai Indians in their next match on April 28.“This is the start of the tournament and we want to keep continuing to do what we did. This team has got to learn from past mistakes. Winning is a habit and a good habit to have. This bunch of players are a hungry lot and wants to raise the bar consistently,” Gambhir said.
What Samuels did was not good: Russell
One of Gambhir’s key players is West Indian all-rounder Andre Russell. Every team that Russell turns out for seems to winning the title. Before the current IPL, Russell was part of the victorious West Indies team that won the ICC World T20, Islamabad United that won the Pakistan Super League, Sydney Thunder that won the Big Bash League and Comilla Victorians that won the Bangladesh Premier League. Such was Russell’s contract with Sydney Thunder that he had to abandon the BPL after the first qualifying final and head to Australia for the BBL as the dates clashed.
“The IPL has been good so far, I cannot complain. .We won four and lost one. I want to keep the momentum going and want to make it five in a row. In four tournaments I played for in recent times, I won all four. I want to contribute to the team and looking to make it five out of five,” said the 27-year-old Jamaican.
In his pursuit of 5-out-of-5, Russell is appearing to be very relaxed. “I don’t think you need to react too much when you are winning. You try and keep your composure. You cannot be complacent,” said Russell, who will play in his 200th T20 match against Mumbai Indians on Thursday.
So, what did he make of fellow Jamaican Marlon Samuels’s and his wild celebrations post the ICC World T20 triumph, having a go at England’s Ben Stokes?
“Many ask me if Marlon is a Jamaican, and I say he is a different Jamaican,” Russell said. “He is a confident fellow. He had done it twice (winning WT20 final with his batting). I heard that he went to the press conference and put his feet up. And I don’t know how to explain that but it wasn’t good. To me, being a world champion is a very good feeling. But cricket continues. Life goes on. You cannot dwell on the past for too long. We celebrated for a week and then it’s straight to IPL.”
Hogg praises Narine
Russell’s KKR and West Indies team-mate Sunil Narine received special praise from Australian Chinaman bowler, Brad Hogg. Narine, who has corrected his bowling action, is back to bowling his usual best for KKR. Hogg said: “Narine has really worked hard. I have got a lot of respect for Sunil. He has been put under fire but he is not the only one. There are few others that should have gone through the process that he has. I think he has been harshly done by but he has gone and rectified it.
“Narine has got a fantastic action. I have faced him when he hasn’t bent his arms, he bowls with a straight arm and he can do whatever he does legitimately and he is very hard to pick. I am very pleased with Sunil has done and I am glad with the way he has approached it and the way he has turned it around. He has come back and he has proved himself in the IPL. We see him in the international cricket as well doing the same stuff.”
At 45, Hogg is the oldest player this IPL. Asked what keeps him going, he said: “I love the game. When you are sitting on the fence and you see a kid smiling at you, it takes you back to when you were a young fellow or your young child wanting to aspire to be an international cricketer. That’s the thing that inspires me to go forward and keep going. It is that dream that I don’t want to just fade out. I think cricket brings all together.”
The Western Australian said that cricket is at the cross roads at the moment. Asked if youngsters should be exposed to IPL directly without playing domestic cricket, Hogg said: “In Western Australia, cricket is revamped. We have seen the rise of T20 cricket by about 40 per cent in the last couple of years with the Big Bash League. We have got to be careful where cricket is moving forward. T20 brings lower nations closer together. It is interesting where cricket is at the moment. It’s at the cross roads.”
To the same question, Gambhir said: “I am strong believer that T20 is not the format where you should try and see talent, and you should not select the 50-over or Test side from T20. It has to be through your first-class cricket.
You’ve got to give more importance to your first-class cricket because that is how you are going to get the depth of talent into the bigger league.
“T20 is something where you might not be tested mentally, you might not be tested technically. It can be a lot more physical in T20. So from T20, you can still afford to pick your T20 side, but not the Test side or the One-Day side. You’ve got to give a lot of importance to first-class cricket and that is where you will get the good product as well.”