IPL: Gautam Gambhir's Focus Now on Kolkata Knight Riders, Not India Return
Gautam Gambhir has been in prime form in the ninth edition of the Indian Premier League, having also scored two half-centuries.
KKR have won 4 out of 5 matches in IPL 2016
Gambhir has scored 2 IPL half-centuries in 2016
Mumbai Indians take on Kolkata Knight Riders on Thursday
Former India captain Sunil Gavaskar feels Gautam Gambhir looks good for a national recall after a string of good scores in the ongoing IPL but the Kolkata Knight Riders captain does not want to look too far ahead as "comebacks are only by-products" of good performances.
"At the moment, it's about IPL and I am concentrating on getting runs and help KKR win. All the rest, comebacks or no comebacks, are only by-products," said the left-handed batsman at the pre-match media conference against defending champions Mumbai India at the Wankhede Stadium.
The Delhi Ranji Trophy captain had appeared last for India in the fifth and final Test match at the Oval in August, 2014, a match that India lost by an innings and in which he made 0 and 3, and has never been picked for the country in any of the three formats since. In fact in his last four Test innings for India, he failed to reach double figures in three of the innings.
For KKR, who are leading the table with four wins from five games, Gambhir is the leading run-getter with a tally of 237 from five games.
"My primary job is to score runs and make KKR win and that's what I am trying to do. Rest, I don't think too much. That's how I have always played my game. When I play for Delhi in Ranji Trophy, I try to help Delhi win and when I play IPL for KKR, I aim to make KKR win," he elaborated.
In tomorrow's game, rival captain Rohit Sharma looms as a major threat and while praising his counterpart, Gambhir said his side had an equally good attack at his command to execute plans for not only Sharma but also others in the MI line-up.
Rohit cracked 84 not out in 54 balls to power MI past KKR's challenging score of 187 for 5 when the two teams met earlier this season at the Eden Gardens in Kolkata.
Asked whether the team's re-jigged bowling attack since then can defend a good total, Gambhir said,"It depends, whether we are chasing or batting. Again I said one game doesn't define us. Sometime you need to give credit to the opposition. Rohit Sharma is a quality player and took the game away from us. Let's see, we will try and plan something.
"But we have plans for everyone, not only Rohit, He is a quality player but at the same time we have a quality attack," he said, adding,"We won three games on the trot away from home and hopefully we can continue that tomorrow."
The revamped attack has unorthodox spinner Sunil Narine, with a remodelled action, as one of its key cogs, and Gambhir praised the West Indian slow bowler for the way he had taken up the challenge in his career.
"Sunil Narine has shown a lot of character. It's the toughest thing for a bowler when he remodels his action and comes to a format like T20 as people will look to target him. He's got only four overs, unlike in Tests when he can come back for a second spell.
"The way he has handled himself and played in the last three games is unbelievable. He's mentally very strong. You will definitely see the best of Sunil Narine in the coming year."
While saying the chicken pox contracted by his regular no. 3 Manish Pandey to rule him out of fray for now as "unfortunate", Gambhir praised the manner in which Suryakumar Yadav stepped into the slot and made a winning contribution in their game against Rising Pune Supergiants in Pune.
"It's very unfortunate, someone getting chicken pox. Obviously, it takes time to recover. I hope he will come back soon, sometime in May. He is someone who is hitting the ball well, batting consistently. He is an important member.
"It (Yadav at No 3) was a forced change as Manish was not available. Otherwise, he would have batted in middle or lower to finish the game. He is so versatile he gives us lot of options. He can be promoted to No 3 or bat lower down and finish the game. He does both roles well. Ideally, I will want him to finish the game as I feel that's where he's most dangerous," he added.
Gambhir said KKR's trust with its players once they get picked in auction or from other means is one of the main reasons for the franchises good run in IPL in which it has won titles in 2012 and 2014.
"I always believe in giving a lot of security to players. When you pick someone you pick someone with a lot of trust and stick with that someone. We don't chop and change.
"f someone does not perform for one year we don't send him back into the auction or release him. We are I think the only franchise that does not release a lot of players. We have allowed people to make mistakes. I think may be that differentiates us from others."
He made it clear that whether team co-owner Shah Rukh Khan is there to witness the game or not tomorrow, there will be no change to the team's mental approach to the game.
"We are professional cricketers, want to play well and win games for KKR. KKR should be remembered for what they do on the cricket field and not for anything else. We as sportsmen have never thought about whether Shah Rukh is there or not there," he said.
IPL has made younger Indian players bolder in their approach to the game, he noted.
"The attitude has gone up. Youngsters don't fear anything. It's good for Indian cricket and a great exposure when you play against quality players. The quality of cricket is also tough. I don't know about other leagues, but the quality in IPL is tough," he said emphatically.