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It takes something very, very special to make Gautam Gambhir to smile. That intense and brooding face doesn’t light up for no good reason. But the last month has given Gambhir some absolutely stunning reasons to smile. He got back among runs, welcomed his baby girl into the world, led Kolkata Knight Riders to nine consecutive wins in Pepsi IPL 2014, culminating into their second IPL triumph and earned his place back in India’s Test squad.
So, in an interview with IPLT20.com after KKR’s three-wicket win over KIXP in the Final, Gambhir was pretty generous with his smile. He talked of his team’s truly marvelous rise from the early stages of struggles in the tournament and, like a true leader, spoke of the importance of having faith and trust in his teammates.
Here are excerpts from his interview:
What a month you’ve had, both professionally and personally.
Absolutely! From where we were after the first seven games, this feels like a dream. I was telling Vijay Dahiya last night that being here for the Final doesn’t seem real, it’s a dream. Not many people gave us a chance after the start we got. This is an unbelievable feeling.
The little baby girl is very lucky!
Oh, she is, and I am lucky to have her in my life. A lot of things have changed in my life for the better after her arrival.
What inspired this incredible turnaround?
We had the individuals in the dressing room to turn it around. The first couple of games that we lost, we should have really won them. But these things happen in a tournament like this and we truly believed that if we played to our potential, it would be difficult for any side to beat us.
A word on Robin Uthappa.
He has always been an opening batsman, and when things were not working well at the top of the order, we though we needed someone proactive and quick so that we can be aggressive from both ends. It worked very well.
Young Manish Pandey really stepped up to the plate for your guys in this tournament. He had slipped under the radar a bit for a few years. How did you get the best out of him?
Young players need the freedom to be able to express themselves, and I just gave him that freedom. In the last couple of games, he didn’t perform, but we still stuck with him in the Final and he delivered (94 off 50 balls). For me, faith and trust are two very strong words in my dictionary. If I believe in someone, I’ll back that person to the hilt. That’s what we did with Manish; we showed faith in him and gave him the No.3 batting position.
Another such case is that of Yusuf Pathan. Your unflinching faith in him has been vindicated.
People talk about the X-factor and he is that X-factor for our team. He will frustrate you and annoy you, but he will also win you games singlehandedly. You’ve got to be patient with such players. We have shown that patience with him, and this year he has rewarded us. He scored 36 today off 22, and even though people may not consider it, it was a very good contribution that had an impact on the outcome of the match.
You don’t need to teach Shah Rukh Khan how to celebrate. Just a few days back, he had got the crowd at Eden Gardens on their feet as he broke into a somersault with a few cameramen, after his side sealed a spot in the IPL 2014 Final. Apart from the somersault, on Sunday night, the Baadshah of Bollywood left no stone unturned in his celebrations as his side scripted its second IPL victory.
He danced with his players, shared congratulatory handshakes and hugs with every member in his team as they were all soaking in the celebrations under a confetti downpour. It was 2012 all over again as M. Chinnaswamy Stadium almost resembled the home of the Knights – Eden Gardens. And one could be certain, a lot of KKR fans in Kolkata would have been equally ecstatic and thrilled like their beloved franchise owner after their side’s remarkable feat.
That grin on SRK’s face never seemed to fade away. And even as he was over the moon after his team’s victory, the ever-passionate Shah Rukh Khan was more than willing to express his emotions in a quick chat with IPLT20.com.
Excerpts from his interview:
Two IPL victories in three years – it doesn’t get better than this, does it?
(Smiles) Nothing gets better than this. I am so happy for the team and for Kolkata. You know, when we form a team, people make a lot of observations about what is right and what is wrong. But I would like to say that we have a fantastic team with a very cool head on their shoulders. So, God bless Gautam Gambhir and his boys who have made me, my son Aryan, my daughter Suhana and my little one AbRam very proud. This one is dedicated to AbRam.
It is almost becoming a habit for KKR to chase down huge totals in the Final.
You make as many as you want, we come and get it (chuckles).
The Final in 2012 and this one tonight, both were thrilling. Did you ever get nervous when you watched them play tonight?
No. I get very angry, but I don’t get nervous at all while watching the game. This one tonight had to be won. I had my Quran in my pocket and we had to win it.
What do you tell your team before an all-important Final?
I just give them my love before every match they play, I don’t talk to them. It is all about making them feel that we are all with them and we love them so much. I just told them that if we exist in the moment, and if you believe that you are justifying the moment that you live in, everybody else will follow you. Tonight, they did that; they did it throughout the season and have been doing it for a long time now. I don’t play the game and I know nothing about it; they all do the hard work. They are the caterpillars who do all the hard work and I am the butterfly who takes the publicity.
And what a day for Manish Pandey to come good, that too in his home ground at Bengaluru.
I told my whole family in the morning that Manish Pandey is going to win this match for me.