Fit Gautam is ready for IPL

New Delhi: There is good news for the Kolkata Knight Riders fans. The defending champions' captain Gautam Gambhir is fit and raring to go for the IPL beginning next month.

The stylish left-hander, who has recovered from an attack of mild jaundice, said: "I am feeling much better now and getting fit… I have started practising from yesterday (Wednesday). I am now looking forward to playing in the IPL."

Gambhir said the tag of the defending champions doesn't put him under any pressure. "I feel no pressure… Actually it's an honour to be the captain of the defending champions. If there is any pressure, it would be shared by all players in the squad. I can assure you the Knight Riders are ready for the battle," said Gambhir during the launch of a school tournament.

The captain said he wanted everyone in the team to play fearless cricket. "Whether it is Yusuf (Pathan), Manoj (Tiwary) or (Manvinder) Bisla, they should forget about the pressure and play fearlessly.

"In the last few editions (of the IPL), there was lot of criticism about KKR's performance. People said KKR have the fan base but they don't perform. We worked very hard and became champions. I now want the boys to perform without any fear in the middle," said Gambhir.

The opening batsman, however, was reluctant to comment on the decision to not allow Sri Lankan cricketers to play in Chennai. "That's a political decision… perhaps I should not talk about it.

"Frankly, one or two individuals don't matter a lot in a team game. Sachitra Senanayeke might miss the Chennai game but he can play all other matches. I hope he strikes a good combination with Sunil Narine," said Gambhir about the Sri Lankan off-spinner.

Gambhir also supported KKR management's decision to appoint Australian pacer Brett Lee as the team mentor. "There won't be any additional pressure on Brett. He has been bowling really well. Recently, he clocked 150 km per hour in the Big Bash. If he maintains the same pace during the IPL, there is nothing like it."

Asked whether he still nursed the dream of leading India in Test cricket, Gambhir said he never talked about it. "I never said I want to become India captain… All I said was that leading the country is an honour. But bigger honour is to score runs and win the matches for India outside the country."

Gambhir was confident that India would once again capture the No.1 position in Test cricket, but added that they should "beat the opponents in their own backyard".

Matches