Public reprimand can hurt the psyche of even the best, but that’s the route Gautam Gambhir has taken each time his team has gone down narrowly.
Despite a line-up boasting of genuine all-rounders like Jacques Kallis, Yusuf Pathan, Ryan ten Doeschate and Shakib Al Hasan, the Knight Riders’ campaign is yet to take off, and the skipper’s outbursts don’t seem to be helping.
Despite losing two-in-two, Kings XI Punjab captain Adam Gilchrist backed his youngsters, and the team is fashioning a turnaround. Take Harmeet Bansal, for instance. The medium-pacer, who made his debut under Gilly at the Deccan Chargers, went for plenty against the Rajasthan Royals, and was taken off after bowling two beamers in Pune.
Yet, when it boiled down to the final over at Eden Gardens, Gilchrist threw the ball to him. It worked — nine runs were needed, but only six were conceded.
“Mistakes are part and parcel of this game, but having a skipper who has faith in you helps,” said Bansal.
“He goes out of the way to make every player comfortable. He communicates a lot, both on and off the field, especially with the youngsters, and makes you feel that you belong to this stage.” The stage, feels Bansal, is as big as it gets for a domestic player.
“We are not used to playing domestic cricket in front of such crowds. Before that last over, both Gilchrist and Praveen Kumar spoke to me, which calmed my nerves.”
Bansal is one of several obscure domestic players who have helped script the side’s successive wins. Mandeep Singh, the only under-21 player in the squad, was yet to fire but Gilchrist persisted with him at No. 3 and is now the team’s highest scorer.Dimitri Mascarenhas' five-for helped KXIP win their first match of the season, but it was Parwinder Awana’s miserly new-ball spell of 4-0-18-0 that set it up. Then, on a spinning Eden track, Gilchrist gave the new ball to Bhargav Bhatt, and the Baroda slow left-armer picked up two for 24 in his four-over spell. Punjab’s total of 135 was sub-par, but the KKR batsmen failed to drive home the advantage.
Gambhir has warned that hard decisions are the need of the hour. It remains to be seen, though, whether the skipper’s remarks will result in a new-look KKR taking on the hosts in Mohali.