Gautam Gambhir is clearly one of the sharpest cricket brains around. And come the big occasion, he has delivered more often than not. Be it the World T20 final in 2007 or the 50-over World Cup final in 2011, Gambhir has always made a difference for India.
In the IPL, he turned things around for KKR and led them to two titles in 4 years, against all odds. Now donning a new hat as a mentor for the Lucknow Super Giants in IPL 2022, Gautam has worked to building a team that looks extremely competitive on paper. In doing so, he had in his mind gone back to his playing days and tried to get in captain KL Rahul’s shoes to gauge if each player invested in by the Lucknow Super Giants would have met with KL’s approval.
“I haven’t said this before and this is the first time I am saying this. For each of our buys I had mentally gone back to my playing days as captain to try and understand what KL would have felt. I was KL in my mind, if you understand what I mean. I was trying to think like the captain and that’s how I tried to help Dr Goenka during the auction," said Gautam, in an exclusive chat with me.
And with just days to go before the IPL, the IPL team looks to be shaping up well despite the injury to Mark Wood. Gautam, always an optimist, has great faith in Rahul’s ability as a leader and made the important point that it was a conscious decision to go for Quinton de Kock and free LSG's skipper of wicket-keeping responsibilities.
“It is very hard to be an opening batter and captain. Now if you add wicket-keeping responsibilities to it, you are putting unreasonable pressure on one person. We were conscious of this and wanted to ensure KL could focus on his batting and his leadership. It is important we give him some comfort and that’s why we invested in QDK who is a match winner”, said Gautam.
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LSG have a good chance of making the IPL 2022 playoffs
Can Lucknow make the IPL playoffs in season one of its existence? The presence of quality all-rounders does make the team a very potent one. In Krunal Pandya, Deepak Hooda, Marcus Stoinis and Jason Holder, they have serious variety and in T20 cricket, such all-round depth will stand any team in good stead.
With Rahul and QDK at the top followed by Manish Pandey at 3, it is a line up that on paper looks to have it all. Wood's absence will rankle them but in Dushmantha Chameera, they have a reasonable back-up option. Gautam and the management have done their job. Now it up to KL and his boys to deliver and stand up to the challenge come the IPL 2022 season.