Gautam Gambhir has scripted a dubious record. The former Indian opener completed a hattrick of ducks when the Kolkata Knight Riders skipper failed to open his account against Royal Challengers Bangalore in an Indian Premier League match in Sharjah on Thursday night. Gambhir was trapped LBW by a yorker length delivery from Aussie pacer Mitchell Starc. It was the first ball he faced.
When Gambhir failed to score in the game between Kolkata Knight Riders and Delhi Daredevils in Dubai last Saturday, it was his seventh duck as captain in IPL. In terms of most ducks by a captain in IPL, Gambhir has now 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).
Gambhir has been struggling for form in this edition of the IPL in UAE. He failed to score in KKR's first two matches against Mumbai Indians and Delhi Daredevils, respectively. In the tournament opener against Mumbai, he was bowled by Lasith Malinga after facing eight balls. KKR, of course, won the match by 41 runs largely due to Jacques Kallis' 72 and Sunil Narine's 4 for 23.
Against Delhi, which KKR lost by four wickets, Gambhir exited after playing only four deliveries. This time, he was caught at leg slip trying to flick a rising ball on his pads.
These have been depressing moments for a man who wants to lead from the front and is aiming for an Indian comeback. India must find at least three solid openers ahead of the 2015 World Cup and with both Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma in scratchy form, there is hope for Gambhir and even Virender Sehwag. For both Gambhir and Sehwag, this IPL is crucial.
Gambhir's childhood coach Sanjay Bhardwaj said in a recent interview that the KKR skipper was under pressure and needed to handle it better.
"Gautam is a big player and there are huge expectations from him. He is under pressure as he has to live up to expectations and this happens with every big player. However, it is up to the player how he deals with the pressure. It could bring out the best or affect him in a negative way. It is all about absorbing. Gautam must be under pressure," Bhardwaj said.
Like all good-thinking coaches, Bhardwaj feels Gambhir is one knock away from striking good form. "He is not getting the starts. If he gets to play 10 balls, he will get into the groove. He has come into the tournament with some good knocks in Mushtaq Ali T20 that included a 75. It is just about one good knock and he will be back," said Bhardwaj.
Soon after Gambhir was out for zero on Thursday, KKR tweeted from its official account saying: "We still have faith in you GG". That's the height of encouragement.
(With inputs from HR Gopala Krishna)