Kolkata Knight Riders v Pune Warriors, IPL 2012, Eden Gardens May 4, 2012

Ganguly match just another game for Gambhir


Gautam Gambhir, the Kolkata Knight Riders captain, has sought to downplay the huge hype that surrounds their Saturday game against Pune Warriors India. This is the first time Sourav Ganguly, now Warriors' captain, will be part of the opposition in front of the passionate Kolkata fans. Eden Gardens is sold out, black marketers are having a field day, and given Ganguly's popularity in Kolkata, the home side could possibly be in for an "away game".

"Sourav is an individual," Gambhir said. "We are playing against Pune Warriors, and not against Sourav Ganguly." Gambhir then went on to say he couldn't control how the crowd behaved, except for trying his best to win the game.

"Whoever Kolkata wants to support they are free to support. I have always maintained KKR belongs to Kolkata. There is no other team that belongs to Kolkata. We always play for the pride of Kolkata. We will always do that, whether we get the support or not. We go out there to make people happy, and bring joy to them. Our job will be the same whether we would be the away or home team tomorrow. We will keep playing for Kolkata be it tomorrow or near future."

However much Gambhir might want to downplay the presence of Ganguly, it is impossible to run away from. They have been talking about this game in Kolkata ever since the schedule was finalised. An emotional back-story is how Knight Riders had first taken away Ganguly's captaincy, and later let him go. The Kolkata fans are known to be an emotional lot, which makes divided loyalties a distinct possibility. Knight Riders' bowling coach, Wasim Akram, is reported to have even compared this to an India-Pakistan match. When asked about that, Gambhir didn't seem impressed.

"That's his perspective of tomorrow's game," he said. "For me, it's another game of cricket. There is nothing so-called India vs Pakistan. We are playing against Pune Warriors, and there is no such rivalry as Pakistan. India and Pakistan is a completely different ball game. It's just the media that is creating the hype. It's Wasim's way of looking at the game tomorrow. For me, it's just another game of cricket."

Nor did Gambhir seem interested in any mind games. Asked if he drew any comfort from Ganguly's struggles with the bat and their coinciding with Warriors' downward spiral, Gambhir went back to his mantra of not speaking about individuals. "We are not playing against individuals. We are playing against a team. If individuals are struggling that does not make them a lesser force. Any one of them can fire with the ball or bat, and can win the game. If one or two are struggling, it's not going to make any difference."

Gambhir stayed away from any captaincy debate as well. "Captains are only as good as their team," he said. "Captain does not win games. It's just the planning that they do. It's the 11 men on the field that contribute. Captain can only be successful if you have the people to execute those plans. It can be a failure as well if you don't have the people to execute them."

However, given the mad rush for tickets, the huge crowds to watch training sessions, the history between Ganguly and Kolkata, and Ganguly and Knight Riders, Gambhir did seem to be in a small minority of people who believed this was just another game.

Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 on May 5, 2012, 12:22 GMT

    If KKR loses this game it would not be because of the Ganguly melodrama but because of KKR's persistence in picking Yusuff Pathan who is really their weak link this season.

  • Love on May 5, 2012, 10:41 GMT

    @onelyfliveit: Thanks for your appreciation :) I got your point but its kinda hard for BD ppl to accept that two of them did very good in Asia cup. even when Shakib got a chance he proved himself. but still he is left out .. i can understand why bd ppl are frustrated :)) I hope its not discrimination as u said. I bet even if Tamim get a chance he will not play good becoz of the pressure.Thts what happened with shakib as well on the first match.Seriously I am not bothered but seeing Shakib on bench its kinda funny as he is no 1 all-rounder right now , dont u think the same? I knw there are others big names who are waiting for their turn but still its kinda confusing when it comes to shakib, not taking Tamim is maybe logical but with Shakib I just dont get it,Anyways doesn't matter :D everything happens for a reason :)) N today i m not supporting any team hope the best man wins ;)

  • Dummy4 on May 5, 2012, 10:40 GMT

    @Mervo If these wickets are set for batsmen then why are the others struggling?? And if you have forgotten then it was Gambhir battling on the sri lankan wickets in2008 when your big 4 got 2 50s amongst them intotal and then in New Zealand... And He had just had 4 poor test matches in Australlia but even his ODI record there is outstanding.. Around 900 runs at an avg of 50+.. far better than tendulkar, ganguly, dravid, laxman, sehwag or any other Indian for that matter.. better if look the stats before commenting...

  • AMIT on May 5, 2012, 10:21 GMT

    agree with you Rezwan, if they are not playing with player, then they don't have right to keep them in a team.But i have a solution for this, " limit the number of match played by any player to 10 to 12 in a league match. and later if team qualifies for the semi or final they can play again. if you limit the number of match played by player, we can able to see lots of talent , which are mostly remain seated on the bench. and also injuries will be reduced to the player, and tournament will be more open to everybody.

  • Merv on May 5, 2012, 10:17 GMT

    Gambir is only capable on those slow wickets set up for the batsman. Is he bored?

  • Dummy4 on May 5, 2012, 10:16 GMT

    Banished Coriolanus Came Back With A Bang in Rome Let Us Hope DADA Will Do The Same In Kolkata #IPL

  • Amitesh on May 5, 2012, 9:57 GMT

    really a big challenge for the crowd to whome to support.........one side KOLKATA but d othr side v have DADA..............

  • Dummy4 on May 5, 2012, 9:53 GMT

    Love_cricket123@ Very Sensible, I appreciate it.

    and talking about taking Tamim n Shakib in or not, it is left to the teams, and I am sure there is no discrimination saying its BD guys, just check out other teams bench warmers, you will find big big bigger names, who are waiting for their turn, so its just winning wat matters, not everyone get chance or not.

    Again, our neighbour Sangakara was such a sport of making himself sit out...hmmm gr8.

    Lets see how it goes, but yes seeing such a hype... I am waiting to see Tamim play and score, and not go with a duck cuz of pressure.

    KKR will win, but me supporting Pune..

  • Messy on May 5, 2012, 9:49 GMT

    i can't help but comment with the bangladeshi fans making a huge cry on the exclusion of their beloved cricketers. The rules of the game says that there can be only 4 foreign players (similar to 5 in BPL, so dont say anything about the rules) and each team is packed with foreign players (probably on the notion that all foreign players will not be available for the tournament due to international commitments), and we see a number of talented, reputed international players waiting in the sidelines. In such a scenario it makes sense playing the best possible combination, take examples of Callum Ferguson, or maybe shaun tait.did they get a match or enough matches. Please spare us the pain of having to see the same monotonous plea or cry for their inclusion.

  • atul on May 5, 2012, 8:51 GMT

    Dying to see DADA on EDEN GARDEN in front of him home croud.

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