Kolkata Knight Riders would want to repeat their 2012 heroics when they take on Kings XI Punjab in the Pepsi IPL 2014 Final in Bengaluru on Sunday. The team has been on song – Robin Uthappa has been a revelation at the top of the order, the middle order has clicked when needed and the bowling has looked strong with a good mix of spin and pace.
It all boils down to the all-important Final now, and KKR captain Gambhir believes that all three aspects of the game need to click in tandem for the side to emerge as champions. “To reach the final of such a high-profile tournament, you need to do well in all three departments of the game,” Gambhir said. “You don’t need to do anything different tomorrow. Ultimately, it is still a game of cricket, which needs to be played well. The pressure will be equal on both the sides and whichever side holds their nerves for long periods of time and whoever can do their basics well, will end up being the winner.”
Their opponents for the grand finale are riding high on confidence after a comprehensive 24-run win against the Chennai Super Kings in Qualifier 2. It was a Virender Sehwag special that lit up Wankhede stadium on Friday night, and the veteran opener’s close friend, Gautam Gambhir, only had words of appreciation for him.
“I loved it and it was very pleasing to see. A big-match player always puts his hands up on the big day and that is what Virender Sehwag did against the Chennai Super Kings. He was hitting the ball well throughout the tournament and it was just about spending more time at the crease. I was happy with the way he batted in the last game and I have always believed that he is the greatest match-winner India has ever had.”
When asked if his friendship would soften his approach when the two take the field against each other on Sunday, Gambhir said, “For me no individual has ever been important than the team. When we walk on the cricket field, we would be thinking of getting Sehwag out and he would be thinking of getting me out. We still have a lot of respect for each other, but friendships are meant to be off the cricket field and not on it.”
Meanwhile, Gambhir also praised their opponents. “We rate the Kings XI as a very dangerous and quality side and we have to play well in all the three departments to beat a side like them. We need to do our things really well rather than thinking about the weakness of the opposition. That is how we have gone in this tournament and that is how we will go about tomorrow as well.”
Gambhir was also of the view that the players in his side were fresh, especially after having sealed a place in the Final a couple of days in advance. “The guys have gone back home and come back fresh, which is very important. When you play such a long tournament, you want breaks in the middle. There have been times in the tournament when we have played games on the trot. The guys really deserve that break, but we are ready to go tomorrow. There is a lot of energy in the group.”
There has also been much talk about Sunil Narine opting for the IPL over playing Test cricket for the West Indies. Narine has informed the West Indies Cricket Board that he would not be available to join the national training camp, which starts in Barbados on June 1. Instead, he would stay back in India to play in the IPL Final. The KKR captain was completely supportive of the decision as he said, “It is unfair for the player when his team reaches the final and he is asked not to take part in it. Narine has taken the team to the Final and has taken the right decision of wanting to play for KKR in the Final because it is an important game. Any player would have taken that decision and I completely support him. If I would have been in his position, even I would have done the same thing.”