PUNE: The words ‘intensity’ and ‘passion’ are mainstays when Kolkata Knight Riders skipper Gautam Gambhir takes to the mic.
He displays it in abundance when he speaks. Despite bundling out Royal Challengers Bangalore for the lowest total in IPL history, the opener refused to admit his team have hit their stride.
Gambhir admitted he was angry with the way his team collapsed to post a meek 131.
“I had a few harsh words during the break between innings. In this format, you have to maintain the same level of intensity throughout. Thankfully, the boys responded in the best way possible.
“But that game is history now. It’s a very demanding schedule and the latter half of the tournament is still to be played. We have done well so far (Kolkata are in second spot) but need to qualify for the knockouts.”
Complacency, he says, can prove to be the bane.
“Most people tend to go with what they get on paper. But anything can happen on a given day. People expected us to come up trumps against Gujarat Lions but we got thrashed,” the 35-year-old said.
Dealing with expectations is another major part of being a captain in this format.
“Once you bowl out the opposition under 100, people start expecting the same thing next time as well. Creating a trend is easier than maintaining it. Hopefully, we will keep up our level.”
Gambhir has been a part of the tournament right from the start and has scored 3634 runs in 131 innings at an impressive strike-rate of 124.15 (average: 30.53) as well as captaining Kolkata to two titles. When asked what his motivation was, he said: “There are so many players waiting for a chance. We are lucky to have got this platform.
If anybody slacks off, he will be replaced by someone who shows more hunger. When I wear the jersey, I try and lead from the front. I display passion and honesty. After all, the skipper is only as good as his squad. I’m very proud to wear the Kolkata jersey and my aim is to ensure we win the crown. I don’t harbour thoughts of making a return to the national set-up while the tournament is underway.”
Set to face resurgent hosts Rising Pune Supergiant here on Wednesday, the India discard admitted that Pune were a strong side.
“They have been playing well. Almost everybody has chipped in with useful contributions. They have not been too reliant on their stars. That’s the hallmark of a good team.”
When the question strayed towards MS Dhoni, he said: “We tend to hype up certain performances or quickly dismiss others. We are aware of Dhoni’s qualities but we plan to focus on our strengths,” he signed off.