Knight Riders v Royals, IPL 2014, Abu Dhabi April 28, 2014

Gambhir's form tops KKR agenda


Kolkata Knight Riders are worried about Gautam Gambhir's abysmal form in the first four matches, the team's assistant coach Vijay Dahiya has said. He stressed that Gambhir remains Knight Riders' best batsman, and that he needed to find a way to spend more time at the crease to get through the rough patch.

"Things have happened in the first few balls he has faced, when he was not set," Dahiya told ESPNcricinfo, on the eve of Knight Riders' match against Rajasthan Royals. "Rewind the tape and you will see [Lasith] Malinga got him with a brilliant yorker. Then [against Delhi Daredevils] he played instinctively and the ball went straight to the short fine leg. The third match [versus Royal Challengers Bangalore], against Mitchell Starc, it was swinging a bit and he played across. That you could say was a technical mistake but it was understandable as he wanted to get a start. Then in the last match [against Kings XI Punjab] when he stepped out, the ball was there to be hit.

"Credit to him he is showing the confidence, and that he went for the shot. So things are happening too fast. And more than technical it is a bit of a mental thing."

Despite Dahiya's confidence, Gambhir, the KKR captain and one of the two players retained by the franchise, has just one half-century in his last 15 innings, with five ducks. According to Dahiya, whenever Gambhir has achieved a rhythm he is not over-thinking things. "The best frame of mind for any batsman is to see the ball and play the ball," Dahiya said. "How quickly you can reach that state of mind is important for someone who is finding it a little difficult to get runs."

In the previous match against Kings XI, Gambhir shifted from his usual opening slot to No. 3. Was that a reaction, an admission that the loss of form was having an impact? "Not at all," Dahiya said. "It was a team decision. The team knows how important he is, how important the way he plays. He can control the game for us. There was a suggestion he bat at No. 3. He agreed. In fact he was feeling guilty that Manish Pandey, who was getting runs [at No. 3] was asked to open."

Gambhir, Dahiya said, has not been doing anything "special" during the team's net sessions. Usually an intense character, Gambhir has been exchanging banter during training and throwdowns with Dahiya. "I will be lying to you that he is not feeling the pressure," Dahiya said. "Every time he holds a bat he is trying to work things out. When you go through this kind of a run you do not want to do anything special.

"We all know the way he has played his cricket, he is somebody who is gritty and always fighting it out. But sometimes it stays in your mind and you want to get out of that rut. Sometimes you want to get out very quickly."

According to Dahiya the key is to spend more time at the crease. "The best thing is Gauti knows that," Dahiya said. "He has done that in the past."

Dahiya stressed that Gambhir was Knight Riders' best batsman. "Look at the numbers," Dahiya said. "Whenever we have done well, he has always set the tone." They have done okay so far without Gambhir setting the tone, just about staying in the top four, but surely it can't be easy to sustain?

Nagraj Gollapudi is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Android on April 30, 2014, 11:13 GMT

    surely he is the best batsman but he would have to recognise himself.good luck Gauti.

  • Shaikh on April 29, 2014, 14:22 GMT

    Gautam should have handed over the captaincy to Kallis or Shakib, both of which are way better captains than gautam, and dropped himself from the team...Uthappa, Yousuf and Gutam - weakest links of KKR...u simply cant win matches with 3 free-riders in your team...

  • Android on April 29, 2014, 13:54 GMT

    I think sakib will be one of the best choice for KKR. He can bat and bowl better other that other foreign player.

  • Mehul on April 29, 2014, 13:53 GMT

    Not sure how benefit it is for the team to keep retaining an out of form player to help him gain some confidence, how about boosting the moral & confidence of the rest of the players who wants to win, after reading Dahiya, seems like they've already giving up hope to win the title and will be just happy as long as they don't end up in the bottom of the points table

  • Al on April 29, 2014, 13:38 GMT

    "not been doing anything special and exchanging banter" - maybe that's Gambhir's problem. He should get serious and sort out his form issues outside the field of play with jeopardizing the team's chances. Come on, 5 games over and 9 more to go, when will KKR realize that time is running out? Replace Gambhir with Bisla (Uthappa is not doing well with wicket-keeping), move Surya Yadav up the batting order, drop Pathan, and try Debabrata Das or someone else in Pathan's place. At 3.5 crores, Pathan was one costly mistake.

  • Cricket on April 29, 2014, 12:04 GMT

    Naming someone as your best player is an insult to everyone else in the squad particularly when you have someone of the stature of Jacque Kallis in there. Anyways, it's also demoralising for the other players when the management come out and say so. It's a team game and you win and lose as a team. If a player is not in form, the others have an opportunity to step up and make a name for themselves else you drop the player. But I suspect that dropping Gambhir whiuch would have financial implications overrides the team concerns.

  • Amar on April 29, 2014, 11:54 GMT

    Gambhir is a perfect example of an Indian batsman who could never bat outside of the subcontinent. Mostly he batted well only within India. Apart from one good innings in SA, he never had any success in SA, Aus, WI, England etc. This IPL,he should at least take a break for a few matches and then plan to come back.

  • Sagarneel on April 29, 2014, 10:21 GMT

    The beast combination for KKR would be - Gambhir, Bisla, Pandey, Uthappa, Tendo, Lynn, Shakib/ Russel, Narine, Chawla, Umesh, Vinay. This team bats deep, scores briskly and has ample fire power in the bowling. Kallis, in spite of all his might simply doesn't fit into a T20 side. He scores at a SR of 110-120 at best and this KKR team doesn't have a dearth of all-rounders. I don't know why on earth would Gambhir make a guy like Tendo sit on bench and instead play someone like Kallis just because he is a bigger name! And we have persisted ENOUGH with Pathan. He got way more than what he deserves (both in terms of chances and money), it's high time that we get rid of him. And please Mr. Gambhir, focus and try to remember that not so long ago, you were one of the most consistent batsmen in the country, and gave us the WC. Either you're too stressed as a captain or a batsman. Relax, it's just entertainment (with a tinge of cricket), and not a war!

  • Lalith on April 29, 2014, 9:54 GMT

    He can bat at No 3 today, Then No 4 on 02 May, No 5 on 05 May, No 6 on 07 May, No 7 on 11 May, No 8 on 14 May, No 9 on 18 May, No 10 on 20 May, No 11 on 22 May and Finally No 12 (or 12 th man at home) on 24 May. By this time Gambier is gone so as KKR.

  • Lalith on April 29, 2014, 9:42 GMT

    MAke Gambier captain from the bench. Then KKR can play another top order batsman. They can have 3 or 4 on field captains like T20 final SL had 4 on field captains while Chandimal captained from the bench. I remeber some time ago Ponting als capatained from the bench for Aussies.

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