Gautam Gambhir describes himself as "easy-going, relaxed and a bit of a prankster" in the change room, but the Kolkata Knight Riders captain shed all of those traits when he addressed his team during the mid-innings break against Royal Challengers Bangalore in Kolkata on Sunday. After Knight Riders folded for 131 from a position of 65 for 1 in the sixth over, Gambhir made it clear to his players that anyone whose intent seemed to flag during the defence of their low total could lose their spot in the XI.
"I wanted intensity from my team-mates. I wanted them to fight. I wanted them to win," Gambhir said of his mid-innings address in his column for Hindustan Times. "I told them whoever dropped on intent should understand that this could be his last game for KKR, at least in my captaincy."
Gambhir, who felt "hurt" by his team's batting collapse, wrote that he was fuming during the break for the first time in his seven-year stint as Knight Riders captain, especially as the collapse came after a loss at home to Gujarat Lions.
That dressing-room talk seemed to pay off, as Nathan Coulter-Nile struck in his first three overs to set the tone for the side. Gambhir said he had spotted Coulter-Nile's potential during his time with Justin Langer in Perth, and described the bowler as "a mean-looking guy, strong as an ox". Coulter-Nile finished with returns of 3 for 21, all top-order wickets, and earned the Man-of-the-Match award as Royal Challengers folded for 49, the lowest total in IPL history. Not a single Royal Challengers batsman scored in double-figures.
"The Aussie bowled like the wind and I supported him with attacking fields," Gambhir said. "My being under the helmet [at silly point] was more of a statement than a catching position."
Gambhir also stated that he does not mind losing Fairplay points in lieu of an attacking mindset on the field. "I don't know whether TV cameras or microphones caught it but we were chirping all the time when RCB were batting," he said. "I am happy to lose spots on the IPL Fairplay award list but I can not see my team slipping on the points table."
Praising his team's catching, Gambhir said the highlight of the day was when Umesh Yadav's short-pitched bowling troubled Chris Gayle. "And then there was another sight which would have pleased every supporter of Indian cricket," Gambhir said. "Indian fast bowler Umesh Yadav having 'Boss of Universe' Chris Gayle ducking and weaving was highlight of the game."
Knight Riders are currently second on the table, with 10 points after seven games, and will play their next match against Rising Pune Supergiant in Pune on Wednesday.