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KKR skipper Gautam Gambhir’s gambit proves why he is the best brain in IPL 2017

In the Kolkata Knight Ridersvs Sunrisers Hyderabad Indian Premier League (IPL) eliminator match, KKR captain Gautam Gambhir, while marshalling his troops during SRH’s innings, and later, with the bat, proved his worth in gold for his team.

ipl 2017 Updated: May 18, 2017 02:11 IST
Sanjjeev K Samyal
Sanjjeev K Samyal
Hindustan Times, Bengaluru
IPL 2017,IPL final,Kolkata Knight Riders
Kolkata Knight Riders captain Gautam Gambhir (R) congratulates Piyush Chawla (C) for the dismissal of Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH) captain David Warner for 37 runs during their 2017 Indian Premier League (IPL) eliminator match at M Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bengaluru on Wednesday.(AFP)

Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) Gautam Gambhir saw his team through to the victory target against Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH) on Wednesday -- a rain-shortened 48 runs from five overs -- to set up an Indian Premier League (IPL) qualifier date against Mumbai Indians (MI).

 However, Gambhir’s role began much earlier in the mtch. He was charged up while marshalling his troops in the do-or-die playoff game against Sunrisers Hyderabad at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium.(SRH vs KKR highlights)

Usually controlled in his celebrations, the captain was seen planting kisses on Piyush Chawla’s head after the leggie had got rid of dangerman David Warner. (SRH vs KKR scorecard)

But behind the expressive exterior, a shrewd brain was ticking. Every move was calculated, and they were all spot on, helping KKR restrict SRH to 128/7 in 20 overs.

Coming into this match, Gambhir was under pressure as KKR had lost four of the five matches.

To begin with, he made four changes to his playing XI. And by the end of the first half of the game, two of his replacements, Nathan Coulter-Nile and Piyush Chawla, had already justified their captain’s decision with figures of three for 20 and one for 27 respectively.

The start of Sunrisers Hyderabad innings was always going to be the decisive period of play in the eliminator. Sunrisers’ openers David Warner and Shikhar Dhawan are on top of the run-getters’ list and all eyes were on Gambhir’s strategy against them.

Generally, captains have been seen using almost five to six bowlers in the powerplay overs, but Gambhir gave pacers Umesh Yadav and Trent Boult an extended spell.

Despite not getting a breakthrough in the first four overs, Gambhir made Yadav bowl his third over too. Off the second ball, Dhawan miscued an attempted pull and wicket-keeper Robin Uthappa pouched the skier to give KKR the much-needed breakthrough. The score was just 25.

The flipside of his opening gambit was that Gambhir had exhausted three of Yadav’s overs. There was a risk of it backfiring as he would be short of pace options in the death overs.

But Gambhir again timed his move perfectly.

Recognising that Yuvraj Singh and Vijay Shankar was the last pair that could do some real damage, Gambhir brought back Umesh for his fourth and final over, the 16th of the innings. On the third ball of his final over, Yadav had Yuvraj caught at square-leg fence, pulling a short ball.

Yadav gave only five runs in the over to finish with 4-0-21-2.

It left Vijay Shankar to wage a lone battle. Gambhir nailed the talented Sunrisers Hyderabad batsmen by employing Coulter-Nile. The Australian import floored Sunrisers by taking two wickets and conceding just three runs in the 19th over of the innings.

Having already helped KKR to two IPL trophies, there is not much to prove for Gambhir. But the way he fought it out at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium, he again gave evidence of why he is bracketed among the best brains in Indian Premier League.

First Published: May 18, 2017 01:58 IST