Don't be surprised if Kolkata Knight Riders unleash a battery of quick bowlers on defending Indian Premier League champions Mumbai Indians when the seventh edition of the T20 tournament starts in Abu Dhabi on Wednesday. Skipper Gautam Gambhir refuses to believe KKR is a team that relies on slow bowlers. Pace it will be, if KKR have to win a second championship crown, says the brave-heart KKR opener.
When KKR picked their players in the February auctions, there seemed to be a distinct design. Umesh Yadav, Morne Morkel and Pat Cummins did one thing very well - bowl at express speed. Gambhir feels that the quickies will play a massive role if KKR have to do well this year, irrespective of where the tournament is being played. (Also read: KKR know how to handle pressure, says Mike Horn)
In an interview to IPL's official website, Gambhir said: "I am a firm believer that it's the bowlers who win you matches, no matter the format. As a captain, I am a big fan of having raw pace at my disposal 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. However, now that we are playing in the UAE and India, we still have all bases covered." (Also read: Jonty Rhodes impressed by outstanding fielding efforts)
With Wasim Akram back as bowling coach, KKR will not be short on pace bowling wisdom. With Vinay Kumar in the ranks, KKR could field a decent pace attack that can block the runs in the crucial slog overs. Vinay has the 'reputation' to bowl well at the death.
Gambhir, of course, will be spoilt for choice. He has the Caribbean mystery man Sunil Narine. The spinner's faster deliveries can really scurry off the pitch. In terms of variety, KKR's choice of leg-spinner Piyush Chawla is certainly a tactical one.
"Wrist spinners are wicket-takers and we thought it would be good to have one. Also, until the last year we had young spinners like Sarabjeet Ladda and Iqbal Abdullah but this time we wanted a more experienced hand. Besides, Piyush can also give us some handy runs down the order," explained Gambhir, clearly indicating that there was logic behind every man the team chose in the auctions. (Related: Time is right for Pakistani cricketers to play in IPL, says Wasim Akram)
T20 cricket can be calculated gamble. Anyone can win a match and Gambhir appreciates this fact. KKR have picked 21 players, a great mix of experience, youth and ability. While Jacques Kallis and Gambhir will instill belief and direction, men like Shakib-al-Hasan, Yusuf Pathan and Robin Uthappa will be the team's soldier ants. Bowlers will the real ones that will defend the team.
"I believe that all 21 players we have picked are match-winners. Overall I am quite pleased with the squad we have," said Gambhir. A man who refuses to hide his emotions on and off-the-pitch, Gambhir wants to lead by example.
Not just the IPL, Gambhir has bigger goals in front of him. With India set to tour England soon after the IPL ends in June, Gambhir will certainly like to be on the flight to Heathrow. Team India still need men who can face the new ball and someone who can look the opposition in the eye. (Read: Laundry service to clean IPL? Dhoni's 'wishy-washy' solution)