Kolkata: May 23, 2011
Kolkata Knight Riders skipper Gautam Gambhir said they have positives to take away from their final round-robin game of the IPL, even if the home team lost to Mumbai Indians in an unlikely fashion at the Eden Gardens here on Sunday.
After setting Mumbai Indians a tall 177-run target, the Knight Riders lost the match in the last over when, Laxmipathy Balaji conceded 23 including four fours and a last ball six to end their round-robin campaign on a disappointing note.
But Gambhir was in no mood to be bogged down by the defeat and said they have many positives to take away into the play-off stage of the tournament.
"Getting 176 itself was a big effort. It was more than a par score and we were very happy with the total. Spinners and Brett Lee bowled well. We have positives to take away from this game barring the last over. Getting the total was a fantastic effort," Gambhir said at the post-match press conference.
"You should see the performance of every player. I can't mention one area, we have done well in all departments. We have more positives to take than negatives," he said about the Kolkata outfit's round robin campaign, where they finished fourth with 16 points (eight wins) from 14 matches.
Gambhir also defended under-fire Balaji, who turned out to be the villain for Kolkata towards the end.
"Balaji dismissed Kieron Pollard in the previous over.
(The loss) does not mean he was not good. We have all the trust in him. I am sure he will comeback harder." Finishing fourth behind Mumbai Indians, the Knight Riders will now have to face the same opponents in the elimination round to be played in Mumbai on Wednesday.
Gambhir said they would have to do things in hard way from here on as even after winning the eliminator, they will have to get past the loser of the first play-off to make it to Saturday's title clash.
"It will be a different ball game in the playoffs. We have to do the things in the hard way now," he said.
Gambhir said in today's match Mumbai played fearless cricket as they had nothing to lose.
"They (Mumbai) had less pressure than us. They didn't have chance to get into top two. There was no pressure on them so they played freely.”
Gambhir also credited James Franklin and Ambati Rayudu for pulling off the spectacular chase in the last over.
"They are quality players no doubt. All credit to them. It is such a format that anything can happen. It was one of those bad days for us," the left-hander said.
New Zealand all-rounder Franklin, who earned the man-of-the-match award for his match-winning unbeaten 45 that came off 23 balls, said "We were just trying to get the ball over the rope. Fortunately, we got a couple of lucky ones. Rayudu played a hell of a shot in the last ball."
Franklin also credited the Eden pitch for staying firm after Sachin Tendulkar and Harbhajan Singh had set the tempo for the run chase with their 57-run second-wicket stand.
"Outfield was fast and the wicket played pretty well. Sach (Tendulkar) and Harbhajan provided the momentum. In the last couple of overs, the asking rate got steep but overall it was quite achievable," he said.
"A great feeling in the camp now especially after getting the confidence back following the hat-trick of losses," Franklin added.