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Gautam Gambhir: KKR’s guiding legend

Gautam Gambhir

Nitish Rana recently shared a WhatsApp conversation he had with Gautam Gambhir after Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) triumphed over Sunrisers Hyderabad to win the IPL. Rana expressed his happiness about Gambhir’s appointment as team mentor. Gambhir’s response was concise: the true joy would come from standing on the podium with the trophy.

As KKR’s captain, Gambhir led the team to two IPL titles, instilling a winning mentality that had faded in recent years. His return as a mentor revitalized the team. After their latest victory, Andre Russell and Sunil Narine showed their appreciation by embracing Gambhir, with Narine even lifting him off the ground.

Last season, Russell and Narine underperformed. The laid-back Caribbean attitude clashed with the team’s rigorous atmosphere. Gambhir’s arrival changed that, showcasing his exceptional man-management skills. His strategic decisions transformed KKR’s playing style. Notably, he decided to use Narine as an opener, a move praised by Bharat Arun, the team’s bowling coach. Narine thrived in this role, scoring 488 runs at a strike rate of 180.74, earning him the Player of the Tournament award.

Gambhir’s leadership goes beyond mentorship; he is a leader in every aspect. He emphasized teamwork and equality in his first address at Eden Gardens, setting the tone for the season. He insisted that every player, regardless of their status, was crucial to their mission of winning the IPL. His speech motivated the team to play with confidence and without fear of failure.

The impact of Gambhir’s leadership was evident. KKR, who finished seventh the previous year, played with newfound confidence. The team atmosphere made even young players like Angkrish Raghuvanshi feel important. Coaches like Abhishek Nayar, Chandrakant Pandit, and Bharat Arun worked tirelessly behind the scenes, while Shreyas Iyer led brilliantly on the field. However, Gambhir was the glue that held everything together.

Before the final, KKR co-owner Shah Rukh Khan recalled past criticisms of the team and expressed his joy at their turnaround under Gambhir’s mentorship. After winning the title, Shah Rukh gave Gambhir a bear hug, a moment captured by the media, symbolizing their success.

Despite KKR’s success, there is speculation that Gautam Gambhir might be considered for the role of Indian team head coach, succeeding Rahul Dravid. His accomplishments with KKR have garnered admiration in Indian cricket circles. Although Gambhir has not commented on the issue, it is reported that he may apply for the position. The new India coach’s term will run from July 1, 2024, to December 31, 2027, potentially overseeing a period of transition. Gambhir could be an ideal candidate for this role.

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