Gautam Gambhir: KKR’s mentor, leader, legend

Gautam Gambhir with IPL Trophy (PC: IPL)

Shamik Chakrabarty in Chennai

Nitish Rana shared his WhatsApp exchange with Gautam Gambhir after Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) had decimated Sunrisers Hyderabad to win the IPL. “When he (Gambhir) became the team mentor, I sent him a message, expressing my happiness over his appointment,” Rana told the host broadcaster. “His reply was short. He told me the biggest happiness would be to stand on the podium, holding the trophy.”

As KKR captain, Gambhir won two IPL titles. The winning mentality had deserted the team in the last few years. Gambhir, this time in the capacity of team mentor, brought it back to the fold. As KKR got over the line in style, Andre Russell ran towards Gambhir and held him in a tight embrace. Then, it was Sunil Narine’s turn. He lifted Gambhir off the ground.

Both Russell and Narine were short of their best last season. The happy-go-lucky Caribbean mentality had a clash with a strongly regimented atmosphere. Gambhir came and changed that. His man-management was first-class. His tactical acumen changed KKR’s playing style. “It was Gautam’s decision to use Narine as an opener,” Bharat Arun, the team’s bowling coach, said after the final.

It proved to be a tactical masterclass. Narine finished the tournament with 488 runs from 14 innings at a strike-rate of 180.74. Together with Phil Salt, he formed the most prolific opening pair of this year’s IPL. Narine was adjudged Player of the Tournament.

For the Latest Sports News: Click Here

KKR after winning IPL 2024 Final (PC: IPL)

“GG is not just a mentor,” Russell said on air afterwards. “He is a leader in every department. He made sure that every bowler and every batsman did their job.”

Gambhir’s leadership method puts emphasis on the collective. It is about doing the job as a team. His first team talk at Eden Gardens after taking charge had set the tone for KKR’s campaign this term. “You guys are representing a very successful franchise,” he started off. “Make sure you train that way, you play that way, and you carry that attitude on to the field.

“Everyone in this group will be treated equally. There is no senior-junior, there is no domestic-international. Because we have one mission, and that is to win this IPL. So, everyone needs to follow that path. 26th May – we should be there, giving everything possible. And that starts from today. If we walk the same path, if we fight, I’m sure we are going to achieve a lot of success.”

And what a difference his arrival made! A team that finished seventh last year started to play with a new-found confidence and verve. They started to play without the fear of failure. A team atmosphere was created where a spring chicken like Angkrish Raghuvanshi felt important. The 18-year-old seamlessly fitted into the scheme of things when he was called upon. Coaches like Abhishek Nayar, Chandrakant Pandit and Arun made serious contributions, working tirelessly behind the scenes. Shreyas Iyer led the team brilliantly on the field. But Gambhir was the glue.

Shah Rukh Khan with Gautam Gambhir and KKR staffs (PC: X)

“I still remember, which was the saddest moment, kisi ne mujhe aise bola ‘inka costume hi achha hai, inka game play toh achhai hai hi nahi’ (someone said to me, ‘only their kit is nice, not their game’),” Shah Rukh Khan, the KKR co-owner, told Star Sports ahead of the final. “I remember some expert talking this. It used to hurt. To come back with GG and do this was outstanding. It taught us how to lose but never be losers and never give up hope.”

Shah Rukh gave Gambhir a bear hug after winning the title, and the shutterbugs became hyperactive. It was a picture that spoke a thousand words.

The irony is that every silver lining has a cloud and KKR’s success might see them lose Gambhir to the Indian team, as Rahul Dravid’s successor. His work as KKR mentor has earned him many admirers in Indian cricket, and the former opener might formally apply for the post of the Indian team’s head coach on Monday.

Gambhir himself is tight-lipped on the issue, but it has been reported that he is not averse to taking up the job. The new India coach’s term will be from July 1, 2024 to December 31, 2027 and there’s every possibility that he will have to oversee a transition. Gambhir could be a perfect fit.

Also Read: KKR’s bowling performance – Mean. Miserly. Magnificent


The post Gautam Gambhir: KKR’s mentor, leader, legend appeared first on Sports News Portal | Latest Sports Articles | Revsports.

Scroll to Top