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The Chennai Super Kings are no strangers to the big stage. The Men in Yellow have lifted the IPL trophy twice already, and they have also won the CLT20. Now, they gear up to defend their IPL crown and try to make it three in a row. This time their foes are the inspiredKolkata Knight Riders.
The Super Kings were almost certain to bow out of IPL 2012 after the league stage itself. But a fine twist of fate kept them alive, and with two thumping wins in the playoffs, MS Dhoni’s men complemented their luck with top-class performances.
Before their big match, CSK skipper MS Dhoni and KKR captain Gautam Gambhir addressed the media and posed with the glittering trophy that one of them will hold high on the night of May 27.
On the occasion, Dhoni spoke about the qualities that make CSK such formidable outfit, his role in the side as the leader and he even analysed his India teammate, Gambhir, as a captain.
How tense were the moments when you had to depend on the other teams’ results to know your fate in the tournament?
There was a scenario in Australia where we could’ve gotten into the finals of the CB Series, but it didn’t go our way. We were faced with a similar situation in the Asia Cup and again, we lost out. This is something that’s not in your hands, so there’s no point wasting your energy thinking about it. There were quite a few results that had to go in our favour. Watching all those games getting tense about the results wouldn’t have helped us. So, we decided to enjoy the games and leave the rest. Things went our way and we reopened our bags and came to Chennai.
Does the role of a captain change much in the Twenty20 format?
How good a captain you are depends on what kind of resources you have and how they react to scenarios. Every player has a different way of reacting to various situations. As a captain, you need to understand that difference and channelize the resources in the best possible way. We, at CSK, put a lot of emphasis on the players going and enjoying the game and expressing themselves. I don’t believe in instructing players how they need to play because every player has a unique style. The key is to get the best out of them without changing their natural game. That has really worked for us so far. At crucial stages, individuals have stood up and come out with the big performances. How would you describe Gautam Gambhir as captain?
Gautam is an aggressive captain – a bit different from me. I am aggressive as well, but I’m not very expressive on the field. Gautam, on the other hand, is very expressive. Even if the game is in his pocket, he is still on his toes, demanding that his players keep up the momentum and wrap the game up convincingly. That is his strength as a leader and he’s done really well with KKR.
What’s the one area in which the team has improved significantly since the first season?
Overall, we’ve made a lot of progress in the fielding. Right since the first edition, we’ve worked on this area because in this format, the 10 runs saved in the field can have a very big impact on the game in the end. Now, we’re proud of the fact that we’re a very good fielding side. How do you look at the final?
It’s another opportunity for someone to be a hero – that’s how I look at it. Tomorrow somebody, either from our side or KKR will be a hero. There will be added pressure on the players, given it’s the final and how they react to this pressure will be the key. As an opposition captain, what do you think makes Sunil Narine such a big threat?
The variations that he’s got and his consistency with the line and length. It’s very difficult to pick which one he’s going to bowl – whether it’s the one that comes back into the right-hander or the one that goes away. Something that we’ve seen is that consistency pays a lot of dividends for a bowler in this format. [Lasith] Malinga is one such example. The batsmen look to take you on and if you’re consistent with the line and length, there are more chances of them missing and you getting wickets.
Murali Vijay was struggling in the beginning of the tournament and now he’s in red-hot form. How would you describe this turnaround?
He didn’t do well in the first few matches that he played. We gave him rest in the next few games and told him that we want the real Murali Vijay to bat and not an imposter who looks like him. He has done well in the past and has got the right talent to be successful at this level. But during that lean patch, he was not himself and that was our main concern. I told him, I wouldn’t pick just any batsman in you. But if you come back to being the old Murali Vijay, you’ll be an asset to have in the team. I just asked him to go back into the nets, express himself and promised to back him if he did so. And he responded to it very well.
KKR skipper emphasises the need to be aggressive ahead of big final against CSK
By Hoshedar N Gundevia
Chennai 26 May 2012
The IPL 2012 final is all set to be a battle between the seasoned big-game pros and the eager first-timers. The Kolkata Knight Riders will walk out as equals for the first time in the biggest match of the IPL calendar. KKR is a team moulded in the reflection of its skipper, Gautam Gambhir. The southpaw has not only led from the front with the bat, but has also ensured that the team stays united through thick and thin.
Awaiting the franchise’s biggest test till date, Gambhir is keen to prove his side’s mettle in the crunch encounter on Sunday. The KKR skipper minced no words in the pre-match captains’ press conference where he emphasised the need to play with aggression in order to topple the mighty Chennai Supeer Kings.
Excerpts from Gautam Gambhir’s pre-match press conference.
On the contrast between his on and off-field demeanour.
I don’t know what the real Gaum Gambhir is like. When you go out on the field, you don’t go out to make friends. You go out to get results for your teams. And for that if I have to be aggressive on the field [so be it]. That’s what I play cricket for; I play to win the game and not just to compete. So, on the field if I have to be aggressive at times, I have to be. If I can rub that energy off on the other 10 players, and I have always maintained that it’s the 11 players that make a successful captain. A successful captain doesn’t make a successful team. So, I have never undermined my role as a captain and I’ve always believed that it’s the 11 players that win you the game of cricket. Individuals can only contribute and they are picked to contribute. Tomorrow, if I get picked for a certain team, that is my responsibility to score runs. I am not doing anybody a favour. I am going out there to do a job for myself.
On playing a formidable CSK side in Chennai.
No doubt they are playing in their own backyard and they’ve been two-time winners, so they know how to play the finals. This is our first final, but you always believe that you go into a big game like this you start at 50-50. Especially in a T20 game when you go out on the field, there is no time to make comebacks; you always have to be on your toes. I’ve always maintained that Chennai is a very good side, especially in their own backyard. Their record speaks for them. So, we need to be up for it and we need to be more than 100 percent tomorrow to try and play some good cricket. And I’ve always believed that results are not in your favour, the only thing that’s in your favour is to go out there and give your 100 percent. If we play to our potential, definitely we’ll be having a good game tomorrow. On the focus being on the Super Kings making it a hat-trick of IPL titles, ahead of the final.
They won twice in a row [IPL titles], so obviously the talk has to be around them. But I’ve always maintained that it’s good to go into the game with a low profile. In such games there are no favourites, there are no underdogs. To me, everyone in a big game starts at 50-50; whoever plays well on that day takes the cake. Chennai is a very good side and whatever talks are happening about them, they deserve every bit of it. At the same time, we’ve played some good cricket and we’ve got a lot of quality; not only this year. The way we’ve played in the last two years, we deserve every bit of it [success].
On what the fans mean to the team.
Whenever we’ve walked on to the field, we don’t go out to play for individuals. We’ve always wanted to give some joy back to the Kolkata people. I think they’ve given us fantastic support even in the first three years when things were not going our way. So, when we walk out on the field tomorrow, I can promise all the KKR fans that we’ll go out there and give our 100 percent. KKR is not about one or two heroes, it’s about the people who have supported us back home.