McCullum fit and raring to go: Gambhir

KKR skipper glad to have an overseas option but backs out of form domestic talent

Bengaluru 10 April 2013
Defending champions, Kolkata Knight Riders have a win and a loss in their bag going into the third match of IPL 2013. KKR’s next challenge is the Royal Challengers Bangalore in their backyard. The hosts are brimming with confidence after their emphatic win at home on Tuesday whereas KKR are smarting from the shock defeat to Rajasthan Royals.

However, skipper Gautam Gambhir believes that one loss in the beginning doesn’t mean much in a long tournament like this.
“I don’t believe in momentum, I only believe in playing good cricket,” Gambhir said at the pre-match presser. “There’s still a lot of time left in the tournament and in this format a single individual can take the game away. We don’t discuss stuff like momentum in the team.”

While being patient with his team, Gambhir also showed faith towards some of his individual players who have struggled to put up top-notch performances so far. The players he defended were Yusuf Pathan and Manvinder Bisla.

“It’s been only two games and at KKR we don’t change things quickly,” Gambhir shot back when asked if Bisla’s scores of 4 and 1 opening the innings were a cause of worry. “We believe in giving players a longer rope and that’s how it will be. It’s not what people say about a player, the important thing is that we back the player and the player backs himself. And we have full faith in Bisla,” the skipper said.

For the hard-hitting Pathan, Gambhir maintained his stance he’s held since the last season. “Yusuf Pathan is a match-winner and I’ve always maintained that. I have a lot of belief in him and he has belief in his abilities. He is going to do something special for us in this tournament,” Gambhir said.
While Gambhir refused to dwell into the discussion of the playing XI for Thursday’s match, he hinted that Lakshmipathy Balaji might replace Mohammad Shami. Balaji returned 1 for 20 in four overs in the first game while Shami was carted for 26 runs in 3 overs by the RR batsmen.

“I’ve always believed that Bala is an important member of our team and having him is a great option for a captain. He bowled really well last year and in the first game of this season. We’re really thinking of picking him but we’ve not finalised anything yet.”

KKR received a boost ahead of this game with the arrival of the dashing New Zealand batsman, Brendon McCullum. Gambhir said the Kiwi has recovered fully from his hamstring injury that forced him to miss the first two games.

“He’s fit and raring to go,” the KKR captain said of McCullum. “It’s always good to have options under your sleeves but we’ll go with the 11 player who we think can do the job for us tomorrow.”

A contest within the contest that everyone is waiting to see in the RCB vs KKR match is that between Chris Gayle and Sunil Narine. The two are part of the prolific West Indian contingent in the IPL that has dominated so far in the tournament.

“Sunil knows a lot about Chris and vice a versa. So the contest will be good,” Gambhir admitted. “The West Indians are doing pretty well in this tournament – someone told me that the Man of the Match awards in the first four games were won by West Indians. It’s good to have one in our team. I hope Sunil continues doing what he has for us till now.” 
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