With the confidence of champions, the Kolkata Knight Riders are regrouping for their Royal Challengers Bangalore test, on Thursday.
A good beginning, followed by a setback… But that doesn't mean that the Knights are worried or that their momentum has taken a hit. In fact, captain Gautam Gambhir has declared that he doesn't believe in momentum.
Speaking at the pre-match media conference, Gambhir said: "I don't believe in momentum… I believe in playing good cricket. There're a lot of matches to be played in this tournament. It's a format where one man can take the match away from you."
True, in the shortest format of cricket, it is most likely that one player's stunning performance may just be enough to change the course of the match. The best example at hand is Royal Challengers captain Virat Kohli's match-winning knock against the Sunrisers Hyderabad on Tuesday.
And not just Kohli, the Royal Challengers also have Chris Gayle and AB de Villiers who can single-handedly destroy oppositions. But Gambhir refuses to dwell on what the Royal Challengers can do. For him, it's all about the Knights. "We have just played two games ' won one and lost the other. We are not going to discuss what Royal Challengers are going to do... If we play to our potential, we are happy with it," Gambhir said.
The Knights, on their part, have a Sunil Narine. The spinner has mostly been unplayable and his four overs go a long way in determining the fate of the match. Narine will face a tough challenge on Thursday from fellow-West Indian Gayle.
But Gambhir believes that both are aware of each other's strengths. "Sunil is no longer a mystery spinner… He is now a world-class spinner. Post their World T20 triumph, the West Indians are a different proposition. Chris knows about him and he knows about Chris. So it's not about any individual. We don't plan for any particular individual… We do it for the entire team," Gambhir explained.
The Knights captain, however, didn't reveal what his playing XI will be. When asked if Lakshmipathy Balaji, who didn't play the last game, would be making a comeback, Gambhir said: "We haven't decided on the playing XI yet... Balaji is an important member of the team. He has bowled brilliantly in the first game. He can be in the playing XI, but it is not decided yet."
Neither did he make anything clear about Brendon McCullum. "Brendon is fit and available to play... It's good to have more options. It's important for us to see that the playing XI picked would do the job for us," Gambhir said.
He was loud and clear about one thing though, that there is nothing to panic after just one match. "It's just two games… Unfortunately, in India people want to change the batting order after every other game. We don't change things quickly. We in KKR believe in giving people a long rope."
"IPL is always a competitive tournament… You can't take anyone lightly. Last year too it was a close contest for the top four teams. All the teams are pretty balanced and you have to play good cricket for two months. In the first week, there are teams who have won two out of two and there are a few who have lost both their matches," Gambhir said.
And like last year, Gambhir has full faith in Yusuf Pathan's abilities. "He is a match-winner... I have always said that. He is going to do something special for us in this tournament. We believe in him and the entire team backs him."
On the Royal Challengers front, for pacer Jaydev Unadkat, Thursday's match will be special for a different reason.
Unadkat, who was with the Knights till last season, is eager to have a go at his former teammates. "It is going to be special… It is the first time that I will be playing against the Knights. I am going to relish the challenge…
"For me, IPL was just about KKR before this season… But after moving to RCB, I am really loving my stint here… I am getting chances to play. I think it would be a good contest as there are good players in both the sides," Unadkat said.
At the Royal Challengers, Unadkat is learning from none other Zaheer Khan. "Zak bhai has a lot of experience. He has helped me a lot. From the first match, I used to speak to him on various issues and he would clear all doubts."
Unadkat, however, was not sure whether Zaheer will be playing Thursday's match. "I am not sure about his fitness… But he is really working hard at the nets… He may soon feature in any of the matches."
Today's matches: Royal Challangers Bangalore vs Kolkata Knight Riders from 4pm; Pune Warriors India vs Rajasthan Royals from 8 pm