Gautam Gambhir    AFP
Gautam Gambhir BCCI

Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) skipper Gautam Gambhir, ahead of their game against Rising Pune Supergiant (RPS) at Pune, said it is a difficult task to maintain the momentum they got from their last outing against Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB). KKR thrashed RCB by 82 runs at Eden Gardens in Kolkata on Sunday, confining last edition’s runners-up to a paltry 49 tournament’s lowest score. Chasing a modest 132, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Chris Woakes and Colin de Grandhomme took three wickets each to blunt the famed RCB batting order comprising AB de Villiers, Chris Gayle and Kedar Jadhav besides Kohli.

I think that s history. The important thing is we need to start off really well tomorrow. This is the second half of the competition, and obviously you want to play this part of the tournament as well as you can. We have finished our first half, and we are in a decent position. All that matters is how we do when it starts from tomorrow. Still seven games to go before the playoffs, so this phase will be very important, said Gambhir.

Talking about the hectic schedule of the tournament, Gambhir said there is no point talking about it. Obviously it s a tough schedule, but you can t do much about it. You can t keep sulking about this. This is the schedule and we are professional players, and you ve got to be up for it. We should be able to cope up with all this. And it really depends on an individual how he wants to recover and what he wants to do, how much he can be fresh the upcoming games. It s not about excuses, it about how we cope up as an individual.

As their next game is against RPS, they will have to be aware of MS Dhoni who played a match-winning knock for the side against Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH). Gambhir s opinion on Dhoni s form was quite clear that he is a class player and also mentioned that he does not believe in terms such as finishers. First of all, I don t think there is something called finisher or starter. Ultimately, the player who scores the final run, he is the finisher be it an opener or no. 11. All that matters is how much a player contributes. I think, the players who win matches for his team is the finisher. Here, if a player does not perform in one or two games, people start talking about him but I think he is a quality player and we all know what he has done for India and in IPL as well, Gambhir expressed.

Talking about the motivation and pride which Gambhir brought to his side before the last match, he said, Pride is when you wear that jersey. If you do not get pride by wearing that jersey, then you should not be wearing it. It is not about me telling them have that pride but there are times when you have to have those harsh words. But at the same time, if someone is not motivated being in that dressing room then he should not be there. Millions of people are waiting for this opportunity and we are the fortunate ones that we end up playing this game and especially for a franchise like KKR.

The fortunate one should try and utilize it, and at least I can understand if people have a bad day with bat or ball or in field. But you can t have a bad day when it comes to intensity. You ve got to have that intensity, and that is what you play for, that is something which is in your hand. So that is what I spoke to them and the team delivered.

KKR produced a brilliant bowling performance in their last match against RCB. And after such type of performance, the expectations will be definitely high, but Gambhir accepts the fact that it will be difficult to maintain it. It s difficult to set the tone but even more difficult to maintain it. I think we have set the intensity but now the biggest challenge is how we can maintain it. I think that was one phase but now it is up to us, because we have set the bench mark. Doing it one game, it is a bit easy to do but throughout the tournament, that is going to be a challenge. And people would be expecting us to show the same intensity, same bench mark what we have set couple of days back. Whatever I expect from the team, it has to start from myself, added Gambhir.

KKR s biggest positive factor is that almost every player from the side have been delivering and they are not dependant on individuals. Reacting to that, Gambhir quipped, Apparently that s good for the team. If everyone is contributing, it is great for the team. In a T20 format, a team that has everyone chipping in is far better than ones who are dependent on one or two individuals. If Pune is doing that, it is great. There is more surety of the team performing than one or two individuals doing it every time.

KKR pacer Nathan Coulter-Nile, who bowled an excellent spell in the last match against RCB and picked three big wickets, will be rested. Nathan Coulter-Nile is not travelling. We do not want to take a lot of workload and manage his schedule well. We have given him four days of rest, Gambhir said.

Gambhir said the team’s biggest motivation is winning the IPL crown for an unprecedented third time. It is the squad that makes me the captain I am. The biggest motivation stays if we can win the IPL third time and be the most successful team. That hunger stays and reflects on my teammates as well,” Gambhir opines.