Indian Premier League (IPL) franchise Kolkata Knight Rider’s fortune changed after they bagged the service of Gautam Gambhir in 2011. He led KKR to two title victories in 2012 and 2014 which marked them as the successful IPL team.
In the recent interaction, former KKR’s assistant coach Vijay Dahiya has revealed that what made Gautam Gambhir different from other KKR captains which helped the franchise to reach at the top.
Under former Indian cricketer’s captaincy, the Kolkata-based franchise first time reached the play-offs in 2011. They also made it to the Champions League Twenty20 for the first time. But finally, Gambhir found success in 2012 after defeating Dhoni-led Chennai Super Kings in the grand finale. Two years later in 2014, KKR again clinched the coveted trophy beating Kings XI Punjab in the final. KKR also reached playoffs in the 2016 and 2017 season before Gambhir shifted his base to Delhi Capitals in 2018.
Gautam Gambhir gave freedom to his players: Dahiya
While speaking to Sportskeeda, Dahiya explained how far Gautam Gambhir went to back his players. He dictated IPL 2014 instance when Yousuf Pathan scored a match-saving half-century and helped the team to seal their play-off spot.
Pathan didn’t have the great season but because the skipper Gambhir had backed him, he went to play one of the best innings of his life. Yusuf scored 72 off just 22 deliveries with five fours and as many as seven sixes against Sunrisers Hyderabad as the KKR successfully chased down the 161 total in 14.2 overs. Eventually, they also won the IPL for the second time.
“He (Gautam Gambhir) is a leader who gives you the freedom to go out and express yourself. If you look, Yusuf Pathan, Gautam Gambhir, and Rajat Bhatia were three players who played all the games in that season,” said Dahiya.
“Because of the conditions, Rajat was there, but Yusuf, he was backed. There was pressure on Yusuf because he was not having that sort of a run. Gautam backed him. He had chats with him; the support staff also had chats with him and backed him,” he added.
Dhaiya praise the leadership of Gambhir
The former Indian wicket-keeper also revealed how Gambhir had urged the team management to get West Indies mystery spinner Sunil Narine in the side during the 2012 IPL Auction, irrespective of his price tag.
“I remember before the auction, he was in Australia, the Indian team was touring Australia. He called up and said, ‘No matter what, I want Sunil in my side.’ And that’s the kind of leaders’ you need,” Dahiya revealed.
Gambhir left KKR ahead of the IPL 2018 but fans had heavily criticised him for leaving the franchise.