IPL 2014 June 2, 2014

'We always had faith in Pandey' - Gambhir

ESPNcricinfo staff

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Exclusive - 'There was a calmness to the chase'

Before the IPL final, Manish Pandey's record for the season had been modest: 307 runs at an average of 25.58 and a strike rate of 105.86. But the Kolkata Knight Riders team management had shown a lot of faith in him - he had been one of only five players who had played all their matches in the tournament. After Pandey repaid that faith with a match-winning 50-ball 94 in the final, Gautam Gambhir, the Knight Riders captain, said he always knew such an innings was around the corner.

"Chasing 200, in your home ground, I think he held his nerve and played a lot of unbelievable shots when we needed it the most and he was fearless as well," Gambhir said, speaking to ESPNcricinfo. "This format gives you the liberty that you can go out there and be fearless and he [Pandey] showed what fearlessness can do. There was a time when we had just lost a wicket and he still went after the bowling and those were crucial hits for us.

"So I think unbelievable innings and we had a lot of faith and trust in him. We wanted him to bat at No. 3. There were times when he wasn't delivering for us, but we always had that trust in him that somewhere down the line he is a quality batter and he will deliver it and cometh the hour, cometh the man."

The win gave Knight Riders their second title in three seasons. Gambhir said he felt "very relieved" when Piyush Chawla struck the winning boundary, considering where the team had been at the halfway stage of the tournament, with two wins in seven matches.

"It's difficult to explain the emotions at that moment, but, obviously, I was very relieved, because not a lot of people after the first seven games gave us that chance that we're going to be sitting here and winning the IPL," Gambhir said. "Winning nine in a row shows a lot of character and shows the strength and quality of the side as well. We always had that belief that if we played to our potential, it would be difficult for any opposition to beat us."

Robin Uthappa's 660 runs, with 10 successive 40-plus scores, was Knight Riders' most eye-catching individual performance, and while he termed it "phenomenal", Gambhir said Knight Riders' biggest game-changers in the tournament had been their middle-order batsmen and their bowling attack.

"Our actual game changers were people like Shakib Al Hasan, coming in at number five and scoring those very important half-centuries; Yusuf's knock [against Sunrisers Hyderabad], which made us finish number two [in the league table], which gave us two cracks at the final; Ryan ten Doeschate, he finished the game against Sunrisers; Surya [Yadav]; our bowling strength.

"When we got into the auction, we always had this in mind that we wanted to have a strong bowling attack, because if you see, most of the teams went in with a strong batting line-up, but we wanted to go the other way, because if you have a strong bowling attack, it takes a lot of pressure of your batting department. So we went the other way. Robin has been phenomenal, no doubt about that, because getting 650 runs in a tournament, a lot of credit has to go to him, but our game-changers, personally, have been our middle-order and our bowling department."

Gambhir himself turned a nightmarish start to the season - he scored just one run in his first four innings - around to rack up three half-centuries and earn himself a recall to India's Test squad for their tour to England. Gambhir didn't have a great time when India last played there, but he says he won't carry any baggage from that tour into this one.

"I'm not someone who looks backward," Gambhir said. "I'm always someone who wants to look forward. I don't want to take any baggage, going to England, [from] the last series. This is a fresh series, it's a new series, I want to go out there and do well.

"It's going to be a challenging tour, it's going to be a great tour, it's going to be a tough tour as well, and when you come out of these tours doing well, it gives you a lot of satisfaction, just as an individual, and it grows you as a human being as well. That's when you realize how you adapt to different situations and how you come out of those different challenges as well."

During the final Test of that 2011 tour, Gambhir suffered a concussion after his head hit the ground as he fell backwards while attempting a catch in the outfield. Troubled by blurry vision and nausea, Gambhir batted down the order, at No. 8 in the first innings and No. 9 in the second, and had to face accusations from sections of the media that he was scared of playing England's fast bowlers.

"People in India will say a lot of things," Gambhir said. "The day that thing happens [running away from fast bowling], I'll quit cricket, because my conscience is very clear. If I would have done that I would have never played cricket again.

"There was a time in this tournament when I batted at No. 3, against Kings XI, and that's when I realised, this is not the way I'm going to go about things. People can say a lot of things, that's their point of view, but deep inside my heart I know what was the fact and what is not. I don't have to prove to people what has happened at that stage."

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Android on June 3, 2014, 17:55 GMT

    ipl 2014 finally ends and it seems everyone have forgotten team India pre ipl flops . it's going to be the beginning of disastrous team India season from here on..come Bangladesh tour, England tour, the world cup..etc.

  • Altaf on June 3, 2014, 13:43 GMT

    How amazing experience and achievement for a player (Yusuf) to win title 3 times ! He is the only player of that kind.

  • Android on June 3, 2014, 10:49 GMT

    retention will come only 2017 action, by that time these people would have been spent force

  • Sriram on June 3, 2014, 9:10 GMT

    Harsh on Robin, I beleive he indeed was a game changer! But for Robins form and stability the middle order could have been exposed! Yes they too came to party at crucial times, but you need that start in T20 and exactly what Robin gave.

  • Nish on June 3, 2014, 9:08 GMT

    Has to be a very good team if even the great Jacques Kallis couldn't make the first XI - they did well too in putting a good winning run & peaking at the business-end of the tournament. Refreshing to see players like Uthappa & Pandey once again show-casing their undoubted talent - with Uthappa deservedly making it back into the Indian ODI team. However GG is very lucky to make it back into the Indian Test squad to tour England.

  • Mohammad on June 3, 2014, 8:55 GMT

    KKR was definitely the best team this IPL in Indian conditions. They have beaten KXIP in all 3 matches played here. Its obvious that all big hitters of KXIP were struggling against KKR spinners and thats why Saha was sent above Maxwell & Miller in final. KKR batting and bowling both was best in India, they managed to chase 160+ in under 15 overs against strong SRH bowling and again chased 200 in final when their bowling failed for once.

  • Dummy4 on June 3, 2014, 5:50 GMT

    Congratulations to Kolkata Knight Riders Team, The Favourite Kings Punjab Batsman Maxwell and Miller Did not get much opportunity to Show there Batting Power in this Final Game. Had they come Earlier to bat Then the Score Would have Jumped to At Least 230.How Ever Both Teams Played Well.Robin Uthappa is a Fine Player He Must Be Included to the Indian Team Best Regards.

  • Dummy4 on June 2, 2014, 23:31 GMT

    Nonsense Ghambir! By the time the final came around, you were hoping your mail-men would deliver... Uthappa, Doeschate and so forth.... that Pandey came from nowhere ewas awesome for the team and a blessing.... but please stop speaking in politically-correct, feel-good platitudes Ghambir? Just be happy you retained yourself after 3 consecutive ducks and it all miraculously turned around! But let's not make hindsight-logical comments which seem to be about how much faith you have in your players and how astute you are? Before the game would you have said, "I just know Pandey is going to fire today and crack a near-hundred runs"!? No!! Never!! Cheers... Skill-sets aside, it would seem the IPL turns people into excitable children. Relax a tad? Pandey firing, in the last game, was a miracle, at best unlikely... so, reign it in Ghambir.

  • Jayachandran on June 2, 2014, 22:32 GMT

    Playing in IPL & in UK against the likes of Anderson & co will be a different proposition. Based on last test form, I'm not sure if Gambhir should be in playing XI ahead of Vijay & Dhawan. I'm not a huge fan of Gambhir for his poking shot to 3rd man most times including tests. I could be wrong, unless that shot is out his kitty he will not do well in tests esp against moving ball. He's a not a Shewag either who even if he fails few times, the times he clicks he would put the team in a very advantageous position. I would prerfer Dhawan & Vijay to open at-least for the first 2 tests, unless there's a position in middle order for him.

  • Sanjiv on June 2, 2014, 21:06 GMT

    Pandey did amazingly. I agree. The context however is that he flopped for all the previous games and now, for Gambhir to speak up about his one-hit wonder is a bit rich. I suppose Gambhir himself belongs to that generation of India cricketers who pro-longed the selection of underperformers in Team India. We were always ranked below the far more focussed Aus, Eng and SA.

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