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Gautam Gambhir's KKR campaign is his own subversive signature

 "My hundred for the Royals was also a very good innings but if I have to compare, this knock would rate as the best I have ever played. Back then I was run-out and could not win the match for my team, unlike tonight." – was what Yousuf Pathan had to say after his blistering 22-ball-72 run knock against the Sunrisers Hyderabad, in the last IPL league game.

Gautam Gambhir must consider himself lucky to have found such a genuine team-man within his boys. Or should he? Because he was the one who backed Yousuf to stay with the team in this edition of the IPL precisely for this reason. Yes, his match-turner status was an important consideration, but his valuing of team-ethics was the other quality that convinced him.

One of the most vocal opposers of the star-culture, Gautam Gambhir – symbolizes the prioritization of team-values over individual glory, in cricket. In a country dominated by cricketing demi-gods and their heavyweight aura, this quiet, feisty opening batsman stands for a rebellious voice in his unique way.

Gautam Gambhir

In 2011, when the Kolkata Knight Riders had picked him in the auctions to lead their outfit – there was a residue of misgivings about his treatment from his previous franchise – the Delhi Daredevils. One year into taking charge, he set out to build a team that bore the message that he stood for. He made “KKR” his pet-project and hand-picked an army that could deliver him results.

Until the previous editions, KKR were a team more recognized for their glamour and glitz, than for their performance. Gambhir quickly changed all that. He got rid of “superstars”, and brought in utility players: one’s who’d keep chipping-in for the team without making too much noise. Players like – Jacques Kallis, Rajat Bhatia, Robin Uthappa, Shakib-al-Hasan, Sunil Narine – all cricketers known to get the job done without craving the limelight. The results are there for all to see.

For a team that had never made it to the semis till then, they’ve reached 3 out of 4 since 2011. He transformed the sensation-minters into an epitome of consistency. In 2012, they won the trophy in one memorable campaign, and there has been no looking back since then.

Everything that Gauti resents, he destroyed. He does not believe in big players, he does not believe that captains are too good.

“A captain is only as good as his team” is a refrain that’s never left his lips. He stands for what he believes in, and chooses results as his answer to counter what he doesn’t. It is not easy to swear by an ideal of sacrificing individual over team, but here is a man who’d defy all odds to act up to his ideals. Everything in Gambhir’s demeanour reeks of this defiance.

From the trademark flash of his fearless blade to his authoritative leadership on the field. From his single-minded resolve to supplant the hero-culture, to his uncompromising demand for “accountability” from fellow professionals. And ever since being dropped from the Indian team from 2012, the stakes have become higher.

Can he prove that he’s good enough to go all the way – one more time? Is he the wounded tiger – out to validate a philosophy? His ideology maybe an alternate one, but he’s already proved its credibility, and is simmering to prove it further. One can safely say that Gambhir plants his own subversive signature through KKR - in the mainstream extravaganza, called IPL.

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