By Lokendra Pratap Sahi
Chennai (The Telegraph): It was around 9.30 pm on Saturday, after returning to the Taj Coromandel from the Chepauk, that the Kolkata Knight Riders’s captain, Gautam Gambhir, spoke to The Telegraph.
Job No.1 on coming back, though, had been to head for the cake-cutting (in the team room) to mark Sunil Narine’s 24th birthday.
The following are excerpts
Less than 24 hours to go for the IPL final, are your emotions under control?
Why should my emotions not be under control? Whether it’s the final or not, it remains cricket. The dynamics won’t change... The ball won’t change, nor will the bats. It’s just going to be another game for me.
But won’t it be tough staying calm?
No. I won’t have problems, for I’m not getting overawed.
So, you won’t have a problem sleeping well?
I won’t... Usually, I watch the TV till late and then go off to sleep. My routine won’t change.
The final is also being seen as a clash between two very fine captains. What’s your take?
Look, it’s going to be a final between the Kolkata Knight Riders and the Chennai Super Kings... It’s not a clash between (Mahendra Singh) Dhoni and Gautam Gambhir, but between teams... Individuals shouldn’t take credit or be the centre of attention... If individuals want to take credit, then they should be playing tennis or badminton or some other sport.
Singles only in badminton or tennis...
(Laughs) Yes, I suppose so.
What could make the difference?
The ability to stay composed... The team which handles the pressure better will take the cake... The team which can hold nerve for a longer period will win.
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Has this edition of the IPL taught you anything?
Not the IPL, but leading the Knights... I’ve been fortunate to captain such a motivated bunch... That cricket is a team sport has been reinforced over the past seven weeks.
Do you go along with the view that IPL-V has been the most competitive of all editions?
Going by the many (10) last-ball finishes, yes.
Despite the off-the-field controversies, it’s the quality of cricket which has scored...
For me, the IPL has always only been about cricket... About competitive cricket. I’ve never looked at it being anything else.
Narine has turned 24. Did the team gift a present?
There can’t be a better gift than winning the final.
[Speaking exclusively, Narine said much the same thing, after being plastered with chocolate cake.]
The final one... You’ll be getting a break after Sunday. Eagerly looking forward to getting away from cricket?
Absolutely... We’ve been on the road for so long... After many months, I’ll be getting the time to do the non-cricket things that I want to do... Spending time with (wife) Natasha, the rest of the family... Close friends... Indeed, there’s much that I’d like to do.
Footnote: While the Knights’ co-owner Jay Mehta is back from Europe, principal owner Shah Rukh Khan is expected on Sunday afternoon. Apparently, he’ll be coming on a chartered aircraft with “loads of friends” and members of his immediate family.