Kolkata Knight Riders' Laxmipathy Balaji says skipper Gautam Gambhir is as good as Indian captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni when it comes to leading the side.
That KKR moved beyond the league stages of the IPL for the first time, in the fourth edition of the tournament, was due to Gambhir's captaincy, Balaji felt.
"I think our new skipper Gautam Gambhir played a pivotal role in the turnaround of the fortunes of the team. He always used to set an example for the rest of the team-members. He always led from the front and I have no doubt whatsoever that leadership skill wise, Gautam is on-par with MS Dhoni at the moment," Balaji said.
"The way he backed his players to the hilt and stood behind the team was absolutely brilliant. He handled the pressure very well and inspired us all to perform at our best. His attacking field placements helped us apply more pressure on the opponents," the pacer from Chennai added.
The unassuming cricketer, who shot into limelight during India's twin tours of Australia and Pakistan in 2003-04 by playing a crucial role in the team's success, was also full of praise for the legendary Wasim Akram who is the bowling coach at KKR.
"All of us at KKR consider ourselves extremely fortunate to have someone like 'Wasim bhai' around us. The most endearing quality about him is that he always makes everyone feel like he is just another guy. He makes you feel very comfortable and that is absolutely crucial. He is always approachable," the bowler was quoted as saying by ESPNSTAR.com.
Balaji, who suffered a career-threatening back injury that kept him out of action for almost two years, signalled his comeback by taking a hat-trick for Chennai Super Kings, his previous IPL side, in the inaugural edition of the tournament in 2008.