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Gambhir leads from the front

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Gautam_Gambhir_India_Cricket_IPL_Kolkata_Knight_RidersAs the age old adage goes- captains lead from the front. They motivate their team and inspire them to do the unthinkable. While India has seen great captains in MS Dhoni and Sourav Ganguly, with Virat Kohli dropping hints of his potential to lead the side to success, there are a few names that eluded the captaincy. Rather, the captaincy eluded those names. The most prominent one in my mind is Gautam Gambhir.  

Leadership is something that probably comes naturally to Gambhir. A man driven by instincts, hard work, grit and determination, the Delhi southpaw has almost always played for the team and risen to the occasion when it matters the most. Gautam Gambhir can be assumed to do well in big games. In both the 2007 T20 World Cup Final and the 2011 ODI World Cup Final, Gambhir played match winning knocks. He considered the team’s interest the greater cause, which even saw him not being bogged down by the magical figure of a 100. Anybody would dream of scoring a hundred in the World Cup final. Not that Gambhir didn’t dream of a century, but he didn’t let the team’s interest being overshadowed by his personal interest.

Gambhir is also a naturally aggressive player which feeds into his leadership as well. He is able to put pressure on the opponents and be ready to counter-attack as and when needed. Hardly have we seen a Gambhir-led side being bogged down by pressure and give in to the opponents. 

Gauti is a fighter and that is what he wants his team to be like. He inspires them to fight till the very end. In addition, Gambhir is a character who puts confidence in his players and backs them to express themselves freely on the pitch. This is the reason a lot of players have done considerably well under his leadership and have gone on to find eluding forms. 

Gambhir got the chance to lead teams like Delhi in the domestic circuit, Delhi Daredevils in the IPL and currently the Kolkata Knight Riders. One of the most standout points of Gambhir’s captaincy is the minimal changes in the team. Seldom do we see Gambhir chopping and changing with his team unlike the others and he backs even the out of form players and carries them.

Kolkata Knight Riders was an average team up until 2010 despite boasting of big names in McCullum, Gayle, Ponting and Akhtar. In 2011, the franchise went for a massive overhaul which saw even the city favorite Sourav Ganguly get the axe and Delhi batsman Gautam Gambhir was brought in the side and handed the reins of the team. In that year itself, Gambhir guided the team to the playoffs. The next year, he led them to their maiden title win against the mighty Chennai Super Kings.

Under Gambhir’s able tutelage, the Kolkata Knight Riders were flourishing despite no real big names in the side. Gambhir had pushed them to bring the best out of the side and also instilled belief that nothing was impossible, be it defending a small target or chasing a big one. Kolkata again went on to become Champions, beating the powerhouse Kings XI Punjab in 2014 chasing a mammoth total of 200 in the final.

Under Gambhir's captaincy, including the Champions League T20, KKR have won 66 matches playing a total of 113 with a win aggregate of 58.40%. In the IPL, as a captain of two teams from 2009 to this edition of the IPL, Gambhir has a 58.7 win percentage, winning 67 out of the 114 games.

Compare this to Dhoni’s stats who had a much more powerpacked Chennai Super Kings side to lead and the difference in percentage is almost the same with Dhoni winning 58.45% of his games. 

This isn’t just it, Gambhir also enjoys a wonderful record for Delhi in T20s and was successful with the Delhi Daredevils side as well which was nowhere near the standards of the other bigger IPL teams.

Time and again, we have seen Gambhir put in a slip, a leg slip and a short leg in the IPL, something that is not even common in Test cricket these days. In addition, Gambhir has also commonly been seen put in slips and short leg for fast bowlers, which was recently seen as well while defending a low total against RCB. This combined with his pro-active approach where he doesn’t shy away from shuffling his bowlers around as and when required as well as fielding changes plays in the hands of his side. 

His aggression and management have been key. Recently in an interview Gambhir was vocal how he told his side to keep up the intensity despite defending a lowly target against one of the best IPL batting line-ups, failing which players might have to undergo the axe. This also brings to light, the fact how Gambhir successfully keeps everyone on the toes and makes them perform the way they do. But with that expectation also comes great faith which he puts in each of his player and they hence, relish playing.

Gambhir has also, on multiple occasions, been seen agitated by the slightest of sloppyness in the field. For him, as the leader, it is imperative to keep high standards of intensity and ethics and these attributes make him a top leader.

 

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