If there was a cap for the lowest individual score in the Indian Premier League, most bets would have been on Kolkata Knight Riders' skipper Gautam Gambhir 'winning' it. After four matches, Gambhir has just one run to show for his 'efforts' leaving many to question his credibility to lead the 2012 champions. (KXIP vs KKR scorecard | Report | Standings)
Gambhir has appeared edgy right from the start. Opening the innings for his team, Gambhir registered a hat-trick of ducks in the ongoing season. Against Kings XI Punjab on Saturday, he dropped to the No. 3 position but could only score one run! According to Punjab's Mitchell Johnson, bowlers now know exactly how to trouble the 32-year-old. "I have played a fair bit against him and I've always enjoyed bowling to him. If you get the ball to move away from him just a little bit, you're in the game," he was quoted as saying in an interview on the official IPL website. (Also read: Mitchell Johnson proud of all-round Kings XI Punjab)
That bowlers have figured out Gambhir's weaknesses, coupled with a very visible lack of confidence with the bat, is bad news for Kolkata who desperately want their captain to fire with the bat. The team is currently placed fourth in the points table - after two wins and two defeats. The question though is can Gambhir's batting improve if the 'pressure' of captaincy is removed?
Former India cricketer Ajit Agarkar told NDTV that removing Gambhir as skipper - and perhaps even dropping him, was not the best solution for Kolkata as there is no able replacement in the side. " I am not sure they (Kolkata Knight Riders) would take the captaincy off him (Gambhir)," he said. "At the moment, he can't buy a run and he is their main Indian batter. It (however) is not possible for them to drop Gambhir especially as none of the other Indian batters are doing much."
Having the tag of captain with the most IPL ducks though is not a 'highlight' that Gambhir would have called for at the start of the tournament. He now has overtaken Adam Gilchrist, who has seven ducks. It is interesting to note the eight ducks scored by Gambhir have come when leading Kolkata Knight Riders. Gilchrist's seven ducks were 'scored' over two teams -- Deccan Chargers (4) and Kings XI Punjab (3).
At a time when veterans like Viredender Sehwag (Kings XI Punjab) and Yuvraj Singh (Royal Challengers Bangalore) are also desperately seeking runs to show their glory days are not behind them, Gambhir's figures in the first leg of IPL leaves very little scope for him to 'demand' a place in the national team.