Gautam Gambhir visited Mannat, spoke to Shah Rukh Khan for hours leaving LSG owner Sanjiv Goenka stumped: Report | Crickit
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Gautam Gambhir visited Mannat, spoke to Shah Rukh Khan for hours leaving LSG owner Sanjiv Goenka stumped: Report

May 28, 2024 08:29 AM IST

Gautam Gambhir may have a decision to make between staying with Kolkata Knight Riders or taking up Team India's head coach role.

Talk about comebacks and Gautam Gambhir's return to Kolkata Knight Riders will forever remain etched right up there. Eight seasons, three trophies. No one, barring Rohit Sharma and MS Dhoni, can brag of such an achievement. First two as a player and captain and after 10 years, the third as its mentor. Gambhir, returning to the franchise that made him a bonafide legend in IPL, on Sunday, completed the trifecta KKR were so eagerly waiting for 10 years. No wonder Shah Rukh Khan was over the moon. It was in 2014 that he last did a cartwheel on a cricket ground, and who is to say that had he been 100 per cent, the Chennai crowd could have very well been blessed with another one from the Pathaan of Bollywood.

Gautam Gambhir and Shah Rukh Khan after KKR's third IPL title.(IPL-BCCI)
Gautam Gambhir and Shah Rukh Khan after KKR's third IPL title.(IPL-BCCI)

Gambhir and SRK are arguably the most popular duos in IPL. However, they were forging their path in different directions for many seasons. After 2017, Gambhir parted ways with KKR, returning to his base to represent the Delhi Capitals. As it turned out, it was his last season in the IPL as the former India batter soon announced his retirement from all cricket. In IPL 2022, Gambhir returned to the IPL as the mentor of the Lucknow Super Giants for two seasons before severing ties with the franchise and returning to where he's loved and adored the most.

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But did you know? While Gambhir was gone from KKR, plenty was cooking behind the scenes. According to a report in Dainik Jagran, Shah Rukh and Gambhir met several times between 2018 and 2022 but never discussed cricket… until last year. The Hindi Daily reported that after leading LSG to successive playoffs, when Gambhir first entertained the idea of leaving the franchise, Shah Rukh stepped in. He invited Gambhir to his home 'Mannat', and the two spoke for hours. Apparently, that is where SRK pitched the blank cheque to Gambhir and, in return, wanted him to be part of the KKR family for 10 years.

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Interestingly, Sanjiv Goenka, the LSG owner, was not aware of any of it. When Jagran first broke the news that Gambhir was contemplating leaving LSG for his next avenue, Goenka was startled. In between, what happened was that by then, Gambhir was convinced that he didn't see his future with LSG despite two relatively decent seasons. Also, the report added that SRK's offer was so appealing that Gambhir 'made up his mind'. And finally, in September of last year, Gambhir's return to KKR was a done deal and made official, the comeback capping off with a successful IPL-winning season for the Knight Riders under GG's supervision.

Gautam Gambhir has a decision to make

However, SRK and Gambhir now face their biggest challenge. Gambhir, who is now top of the BCCI's radar to be made Team India's next coach, risks losing his association with KKR. No candidate can serve two roles at once, bringing the whole 'Conflict of Interest' roadblock into the picture. If Gambhir decides to take up India's coaching gig, which he is reportedly very keen on, he will have to let go of KKR, a franchise he holds as dearly to his heart, if not to the Indian cricket team. Until now, anything could have happened, but now that under Gambhir, KKR have won the IPL, the stakes are higher than ever.

As Pakistan great Wasim Akram pointed out a week ago, the ball is in Gambhir's court. He, like many players, now has to choose between franchise and country. Not to forget that coaching the Indian team is no easy task. Gambhir, who has a young family with two daughters, will have to be on the road 24/7, which is why many greats, including Stephen Fleming, are reluctant to take up the role.

After KKR's title win, visuals of Gambhir meeting Jay Shah, having a long chat with him before the two eventually hugged created a social media buzz. Maybe they know something we don't. Or not. But rest assured, Rahul Dravid's successor will be appointed till the 2027 World Cup, which makes it a three-year-long tenure. Whoever comes on board after the T20 World Cup has a plethora of important assignments at hand, starting with the five-Test series of the Border-Gavaskar Trophy five-Test series later this year, next year's Champions Trophy, the WTC final… also next year, if India qualify and the T20 World Cup in 2026. This implies that Gambhir, or whoever else it may be, will have his plate full.

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