Kolkata Knight Rider captain Gautam Gambhir, who claims to be the perfect team man, is on the verge of a few personal milestones ahead of the Indian Premier League opener against Mumbai India in Abu Dhabi on Wednesday. Gambhir, who shares the record for most fifties with Chris Gayle, needs 29 runs more to aggregate 2500 in the tournament. (Also read: Srinivasan named in IPL spot-fixing probe report, says Supreme Court)
If Gambhir gets the required runs, he will join an exclusive club. Gambhir will become only the fourth batsman to total 2500-plus runs. Others are - Chennai Super Kings' Suresh Raina (2802), Rohit Sharma of Mumbai Indians (2513) and Royal Challengers Bangalore's Gayle (2512). (Read: KKR know how to handle pressure, says Mike Horn)
Personal milestones asides, Gambhir will be keen on a team show as KKR boasts of a team built around experience and youth. With a support team consisting of Trevor Bayliss and Wasim Akram, KKR look a pretty compact unit. (Also read: Jonty Rhodes impressed by outstanding fielding efforts)
Gambhir will like to lead KKR from the front. Gambhir's captaincy record reads - led 80 - won 45 - lost 34 and NR - 01. If he wins five more games, he will become the third captain to win 50 T20 games. Others are Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Shoaib Malik.
In a recent interview to www.iplt20.com, Gambhir said: "I believe that being a leader off the field is as important as being a captain on it. Off the field leadership includes aligning a player to the ideology of the team, helping him ease into the group and dispel any doubts he might have by having a heart-to-heart chat with the player.
"This is what I try to do while speaking with youngsters during practice sessions. Besides, I have had a career filled with highs and lows and I believe I can help the younger players by sharing my experiences with them. If he is going through a tough situation that I have faced earlier, it might help him to know how I dealt with it."
If T20 cricket is all about smashing fours and sixes, Gambhir is close to becoming the first man to hit a 300 boundary fours. Gambhir has scored 291 boundary fours prior to the start of this edition. So far, former Mumbai Indians' star Sachin Tendulkar has scored most boundary fours in IPL - 295. Sharma has smashed 110 sixes while Gayle has the highest - 180! (Related: Time is right for Pakistani cricketers to play in IPL, says Wasim Akram)
Gambhir holds the record for most half centuries in IPL. He has scored 20 half centuries. Sharma and Raina are close behind with 18 half centuries. Therefore, a lot of focus will be on both Gambhir and Sharma, the men who will walk out to toss Wednesday evening.
Sharma, who led Mumbai admirably after Ricky Ponting was rested last year, will also bolster his impressive statistics in the tournament. The young batsman needs to play three more matches to play a 100 IPL games.
Apart from Sharma, the following cricketers have played 90-plus IPL games prior to the start of this edition: Raina (99), Dhoni (96), S Badrinath (95), Virat Kohli (93), Dinesh Karthik (92), Yusuf Pathan (91) and Robin Uthappa (91). (Read: Laundry service to clean IPL? Dhoni's 'wishy-washy' solution)
(With inputs from cricket statistician HR Gopala Krishna)