Gautam Gambhir, like a true Kolkata Knight Riders loyalist, thanked principal team owner Shah Rukh Khan for the support the Bollywood star gave the team during times of distress this season. Kolkata Knight Riders stormed into the final of the IPL this season after getting the better of Kings XI Punjab by 28 runs at the Eden Gardens on Wednesday evening.
Kolkata's resurgence in the second half of the round-robin stage has been stunning. While Robin Uthappa has been a consistent performer, Gambhir himself has run hot and cold after a disastrous start that included a string of zeroes. The KKR captain shared the KXIP win with his team boss and said: "Shah Rukh Khan, too, deserves this win. He has gone through a lot of lows as well, so he should be happy with this performance. He deserves every bit of our eight-match winning streak."
KKR have won eight successive games in the IPL between May 7, 2014 and May 28, 2014 - their best winning sequence in IPL, emulating Kings XI Punjab's record of registering eight wins in succession between May 14, 2013 and April 28, 2014.
Gambhir admitted he would have loved to chase a total against Punjab but when KXIP skipper George Bailey inserted KKR to bat first, he was up for it. "We knew we had plenty of good batsmen in our ranks who can post a decent total. In the end, the batsmen did perform their responsibilities brilliantly," said Gambhir.
Personally for Gambhir, it was a happy day. He made a Test comeback on the strength of a decent domestic performance. Gambhir, in his last six IPL innings scored 14, 6, 21, 4, 28 and 1. Many would consider Gambhir a lucky man for making the Test squad against England.
"I wasn't thinking too much about my comeback to the Indian team. I was focused on this match because it was a very important game for us and a lot was at stake. It is very important for a sportsman to stay in the present," Gambhir said after the win against Kings XI Punjab.
For Shah Rukh, it was a happy 'homecoming' of sorts. He is West Bengal's brand ambassador and the Eden Gardens crowd loved him after he blew his trademark kisses to the fans in the stands. He hugged Kings XI co-owner Preity Zinta, most certainly the most energetic of all team owners. The two could meet again!
Kolkata will play the winners of Chennai Super Kings and Kings XI Punjab in the final at Bangalore's Chinnaswamy Stadium on June 1.