Balaji has been the unsung hero: Gambhir

"It was disappointing for him (Balaji) to miss out on this match, that too on his home ground," Gambhir said.

Chennai (The Telegraph): It was the bowling of Kolkata Knight Riders which had bailed them out of many crunch situations in the tournament. Their batsmen were always criticised for never performing to their potential.

On Sunday, when KKR were set a target of 191, things did not look too rosy for the team. But the batsmen made themselves count when it mattered most. Captain Gautam Gambhir said that he always believed in his team’s batting abilities.

The following are excerpts

On chasing a 191-run target
I have just one word — Mission accomplished. See, it has never been easy for a team to score an imposing total against our bowling attack. When Chennai Super Kings scored 190 runs, we thought that the pitch should be really good to bat on. We had enough firepower in our batting line-up to chase down the total. The only thing that we needed to make sure was that we had to take the game to the death. Manvinder Bisla was incredible… Jacques Kallis showed the maturity and experience to score those runs. Both the batsmen ensured that we get off to a good start. Later, the cameos of Manoj Tiwary and Shakib-al Hasan helped us to cross the line.

On Manvinder Bisla’s innings
I would also like to mention the name of one person… Lakshmipathy Balaji… He has been our unsung hero this season… It was disappointing for him to miss out on this match, that too on his home ground… But Bisla played excellently today [Sunday]… This was one of the best T20 innings I have ever seen… Such an innings under pressure speaks a lot about the character of the man. And as I have said, a captain is as good as his team, the credit goes to the boys… Thank you Calcutta, you deserve everything… We play for you.

If he was he a bit concerned after getting out cheaply
Look, I am in good form… So, it is bound to happen that I might fail in one of the innings. But I always had faith in my players… KKR are not about individuals. It is a group of 11 individuals that make a team. During the tournament, a lot of questions were raised about the failure of our middle-order. But I always believed in them… I knew that they will come good when it matters… Today [Sunday], they proved a point by taking us home.

Whether keeping the pads on even after he out was a superstition
I had opened my pads only in one match, against the Kings XI Punjab… And we lost that match. So today [Sunday] also I just kept my pads on… But forget about superstition, all credit for the win goes to the team.

On the mood in the dugout
When we reached the 18th over and still had six wickets in our hand, we thought that we can win the match… Manoj has played in lot of domestic matches, while Shakib had the experience of playing in international matches. We knew that if we can get one or two hits to the boundary, we can get over the finishing line.

On Shah Rukh Khan
He is a great owner and he should be happy now… He has seen a lot of lows for the past three years… It is time that he feels happy. A lot was said about him that he interferes about team combination and team composition… But, under my leadership, he has never intervened into anything.

If this win makes him the ideal candidate for Team India captaincy
This win means nothing to me… It doesn’t mean anything… From the time I started playing, I have always tried to do my job honestly… I have always tried to contribute to the team and give 100 per cent for my team. So, I like to think of the present… I don’t want to think too much about the future.

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