Indian Premier League 2013 March 29, 2013

Gambhir ready for title defence

ESPNcricinfo staff

Gautam Gambhir has said that he should be fit in time to play the first match of the Indian Premier League against Delhi Daredevils on April 3. Gambhir, who was dropped from the Test squad against Australia for the first two Tests and then missed out due to a bout of jaundice, had resumed training and was keen on getting back into the groove.

"I started out slowly as I hadn't played for 10 days, and the fatigue is still there," he said in an interview to the Hindustan Times. "But I should be available for the first match (April 3). We have a long break after that, which should give me enough time to recuperate."

Gambir, who captained Kolkata Knight Riders to their first IPL title last year and was the second-highest run-getter in the season, said that he didn't regret not being part of the side that beat Australia by a historic margin of 4-0. "Playing for India is my biggest motivation, but not the only one," he said. "As a sportsperson, I want to keep performing. I hadn't played for Delhi in a long time, so it felt great to be back. That we won the Vijay Hazare Trophy after 17-18 years made it doubly special. I just want to make runs that help my team win. I don't want to complicate things. I want to keep my cricket and my life simple by scoring runs."

His lack of match practice going into the IPL, however, isn't a cause for concern. KKR coach Trevor Bayliss said that Gambhir and Jacques Kallis were players who would prove their experience once the competition begins. "At the same time, we have a squad with highly effective players in the middle order, who can handle the responsibility they have been entrusted with," Bayliss added.

Bayliss also admitted there would be pressure on KKR in the tournament as they seek to defend their title. "In a way, our achievements last season do bring in a bit of extra pressure," Bayliss said in an interview to the Telegraph. "But at the end of the day, it's a good feeling to start a competition as the defending champions. We need to carry on with the momentum we had gained last year."

England batsman Eoin Morgan, Lakshmipathy Balaji and left-arm spinner Iqbal Abdulla joined the team in Kolkata on Thursday.

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