3 biggest takeaways from Gautam Gambhir's interview with Sportskeeda

Gautam Gambhir has turned his and KKR
Gautam Gambhir has turned his and KKR's fortunes around. (PC - KKR's official X handle)

Gautam Gambhir is the man of the hour. Soon after leaving politics, he returned to Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) after six years in 2024 as a mentor and helped them win their first title in 10 years, with the last being when he was the captain.

The win was so resounding that even before the final he was being touted as India's next head coach and now reports are rife about the same. So, as we do at Sportskeeda, we got in touch with him for our YouTube show Match Ki Baat immediately after the final in Chepauk to gauge his feelings and mood.

Here are our three biggest takeaways from that interview:

#3 Gautam Gambhir's philosophy - pedigree over form and numbers

There was a feeling of validation when he spoke about Mitchell Starc, KKR's most expensive signing in IPL history. Starc struggled for wickets and consistency at the start of the season but come the playoffs, he bagged back-to-back Player of the Match performances in Qualifier one and the final against SunRisers Hyderabad.

"We had absolutely no doubt that Starc will become the X-factor for us in the tournament," Gambhir said. "We always knew he was the X-Factor and he will become one at the right time. I mean, what other big matches could be there in the IPL? It was the Qualifier 1 and the Final. That is why I say that the big players wait for such occasions, they thrive on these occasions. Money is irrelevant. What Starc brings to the team was more important."

On his wicket of Abhishek Sharma in the powerplay, Gambhir added:

"You expect a bowler of this quality to bowl this kind of a delivery. When you bring these kinds of players, they step up when you need them the most. KKR needed Mitchell Starc in the Qualifier 1 and the Final, and he put his hand up and he delivered. I don't know whether I should say that was an unplayable delivery or not, because we were taught that no delivery is unplayable, but it was certainly very close to unplayable."

It tells you a lot you need to know about him as the tactician. In an earlier interview with Sportskeeda, he had spoken about how he doesn't care a lot about data. Even though KKR relied on data otherwise, Gambhir himself seems to be someone more focused on the proven pedigree of a bowler than form and stats.

Starc has looked more and more like his signing as the Australian didn't have any recent T20 form to back him before the auction. The left-arm pacer wasn't even a sure-shot starter for Australia in the format either.

But Gambhir's trust came from perhaps reading his mentality and seeing how he's a different bowler altogether when the stakes are at the highest, something which he was good at too.

#2 It looks like Sunil Narine and Andre Russell are here to stay

With a mega auction looming next season, there are fears that KKR's one of the all-time best IPL sides would be dismantled heart-breakingly. And the franchise looks set to be caught in a massive dilemma of who to prefer in retentions - their long-held core of senior players or the new emerging crop of young talents.

The biggest question mark hangs on Andre Russell and Sunil Narine, the franchise's longest-serving players. Both West Indians showed a new peak in a highly functional team in IPL 2024 but they are both 36 years old, injury-prone, and might not get to play a lot of cricket ahead of the next season.

However, Gambhir's trust in them seems intact and how he lavished praise about them seemed to suggest that they are likely to be in KKR's plans in the future.

"See, whether I brought Narine and Russell is irrelevant. What's relevant is what they did after coming. They are an integral part of KKR now, their identity is KKR. Franchises do not get such players of quality for such a long time, so it is important to take care of them," Gambhir said.
"Even if Narine was not given the MVP award, he would still be KKR's MVP always. You can look at the stats and all, but Narine was KKR's MVP even before the tournament began. There is a lot to see from Narine still, he still has the ability to give a lot more for KKR and world cricket," he added.

KKR have continued to retain them over the years, irrespective of the circumstances (like bans). That relationship of pure loyalty might be continuing.

#1 "The journey has begun" - is he staying?

Some reports in recent days have suggested that Gambhir's move to replace Rahul Dravid as the India men's head coach after the 2024 T20 World Cup is all but a done deal.

However, how the former India batter spoke about his time at KKR, seemed to suggest that he's not satisfied with just one title.

"We are still two trophies away from MI and CSK. I am content today, but we are still not the most successful IPL franchise. To do that, we need to win the tournament three more times, and that will require a lot of effort," Gambhir said.
"Our next mission is to make KKR the most successful team in the IPL. There will be no better feeling than that. But, the journey towards that has only begun," the KKR mentor added.

You can't say anything for certain, especially because Gambhir is a big patriot and has all the skills in the world to reverse India's trophy drought. But even if he leaves, his love for KKR and the understanding of an unfinished business seems to suggest that a second return would always be on the table.

Looking for fast live cricket scores? Download CricRocket and get fast score updates, top-notch commentary in-depth match stats & much more! 🚀☄️

Quick Links

App download animated image Get the free App now