Delhi v Kolkata, 1st qualifier, IPL 2012, Pune May 23, 2012

'Yusuf is a magical player' - Gambhir

ESPNcricinfo staff

Gautam Gambhir, the Kolkata Knight Riders captain, has said that the side's decision to keep the faith in their "core group" of players, including Yusuf Pathan, has been a factor in their strong performance this season. Yusuf, who had a series of low scores throughout this IPL, came good in the first qualifier against Delhi Daredevils on Tuesday, his unbeaten 40 off 21 deliveries crucial in taking Knight Riders to the final.

"After we lost to Chennai Super Kings, at Eden Gardens, I was asked why I stick to the core group of players… the answer is, because I want them to believe that I have complete faith in them," Gambhir said after the qualifier. "Only that can boost them to give their best. That only will make them stand up to these tough challenges. I was also asked why I persist with Yusuf Pathan. I have always said that he is a magical player and that he will come good when it would matter the most. I was proved right today."

Mahela Jayawardene, the Daredevils batsman, said that the partnership between Yusuf and Laxmi Shukla - 56 runs in four overs - took the game away from his side. "In a Twenty20 game, it is tough to say anyone is out of form," Jayawardene said. "I think there was a great platform for him [Yusuf] to come and play his natural game, which is hitting the ball clean. Our guys bowled a few good yorkers. When they did not hit those zones marginally, he hit a few good [shots]. Laxmi batted really well too. I think his cameo gave Yusuf the confidence to go after our guys."

Gambhir said that after their narrow loss to Kings XI Punjab, Knight Riders could have dropped players, which he was not in favour of. "We could have easily chopped and changed when we lost to Kings XI. We could have easily made harsh decisions but it is important [to] stick to the core group of players and make them believe that everyone backs them. Maybe that's one of the reasons we have done well.

"The players who are there in the KKR dressing room are there because I have complete faith in them. Whoever sits in the dressing room, I completely back them. That is why they are part of KKR.

"Everyone has been talking about Yusuf and Manoj Tiwary, but the way Manoj batted in Mumbai, those 40 [41] runs he made were as important as any runs in the tournament. I have always mentioned that those small contributions make you win games. For me Shukla's contribution [24 not out off 11] made the difference [in the qualifier]. It is not about someone getting 60 or 70 at the top of the order. It is about someone who comes lower down the order or someone like Rajat Bhatia who can bowl two-three overs at a good economy-rate."

When asked about Brett Lee missing out on the playing XI, Gambhir said that no one was bigger than the team. "It is about the best XI that is going to go out and win the game for us. It is not about Brett Lee. It is not about individuals. From me to Jacques Kallis to no one. If I feel that I am not hitting the ball well and there is someone else who can do the job for KKR, I will be the first one sitting out. It will always be about KKR when I am [in charge]."

Brendon McCullum, the Knight Riders wicketkeeper and former captain, called Gambhir an "outstanding" leader, saying that he had led from the front. "He is very soft-spoken in the changing room and around the group, and on the field he leads through performance and through actions," McCullum told "Technically, he has been very good and has used Sunil Narine incredibly well and he has got a lot out of the other guys as well. He has been excellent as a captain so far."

Gambhir, McCullum's opening partner, has been Knight Riders' best batsman by some distance this season, making six half-centuries compared to the three fifties the rest of his batsmen have scored in all. "He has been hitting the ball as well as anyone in the tournament," McCullum said. "I, from the other end, try to give him strike - that is probably the reverse of the roles that we thought of at the start of the tournament. I can't take credit [for] the partnerships where he has played beautifully and made my work easy, and I just try to hang in around and get him on strike."

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Steve on May 25, 2012, 19:09 GMT

    In the last 8 games McCullum and Gambhir have played together, average partnership is over 50, McCullum has averaged over 30. KKK has won 7 of these. Do some of you people not understand cricket (even 20/20) is a game of partnerships, forget about strikerate and look at contribution to the situation and the team and winning

  • mrunal on May 24, 2012, 16:00 GMT

    If there is no gambhir then no world cups in india's hand.By his 75 in 1st T20 world cup 2007 final he helped team India to lift 1st world cup.And also by scoring 98 in 2011 world cup he helped team India to lift 2Nd most awaited world cup.sooo i hop gambhir will take this final game by his wonderful skills

  • Dummy4 on May 24, 2012, 14:11 GMT

    Gambir wd fail in Australia but not in India.

  • P on May 24, 2012, 13:07 GMT

    KKR were in bad situation losing first 2 matches, one washed out match against DC and had to play catch-up to qualify in top 2. Also, continued failure of Yusuf, Tiwary, slow batting by Kallis and McCullum, and lack of penetration of Lee put huge pressure. Otherwsie, they could have experimented with Shakib, Jani, Shukla and Unadkat playing more games and KKR would have done well to have replacements ready, given chance to young players and rest to Kallis who is clearly under strain. Not giving one match to Eoin Morgan, who ranks 3rd in ICC T20 batsman ranking was sad.

  • MS on May 24, 2012, 11:52 GMT

    Gambhir, you can read all the management and strategy books you want - the end result will always remain the same - the great leader MSD will win. Again.

  • Dummy4 on May 24, 2012, 11:05 GMT

    Yusuf had a bad IPL 5 till now but he is a match winner and thats the reason he was retained in the team. People are comparing Yusuf not being dropped to Lee/Shakib being dropped which is lack of awareness, you cant compare Indian players with overseas players, there are very few good Indian players as compared to 100's of good overseas players, looking at KKR's domestic bench strength there is definitely no one better than Yusuf Pathan available otherwise he would have been dropped after 5-6 matches.

  • Soumya on May 24, 2012, 9:10 GMT

    hey guys stop commenting about Gambhir's comment.. Lets hope, pathan will again play a crucial knock in the final and get the trophy for KKR..

  • Santhanam on May 24, 2012, 7:17 GMT

    Gautam Gambhir is a very fine batsman & truly deserves to be the Captain of Team India. Hope the BCCI is listening. Kohli although is one of the best upcoming batsman of Modern day Crciket, needs some time to take up the highest job in Indian Cricket Team. Kohli can be the vice captain for the next 2-3 years just so that he is well groomed under Gambhir. Gautam Gambhir deserves to be made the Captain of Team India.

  • Satish on May 24, 2012, 6:04 GMT

    Yusuf WAS a magical batsman.. But now, he cant even dominate the spinners who were once frightened to bowl to Yusuf.. For a good player in bad patch, one innings will turn it ON.. Let us see whether the innings by Yusuf is a fluke one or graph turning one..

  • Dummy4 on May 24, 2012, 5:58 GMT

    I am from BD,a retd colonel,following cricket since 1970.sorry to say some of the comments from BD & Indian fan regarding Shakibs quality really hurting me.At times its just like childish attitude shown by both the fan.To me Shakib is now worlds leading allrounder,thats all.still long way to go.Let him play his normal game & establish himself in WC.

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