Gautam Gambhir, as skipper, is intensity personified. He doesn’t smile, he talks fast and he doesn’t remove his pads in the dug out till his team has won the match.
Of course, he isn’t captain cool – he isn’t afraid to jump into a battle and pull his side to victory if need be. He doesn’t mind getting dirty but something about his intensity… is infectious. He wants to win at all costs. His team, the Kolkata Knight Riders, responded in kind.
Now, Kolkata haven’t been one of the power centres in the IPL but over the last two years, Gambhir has slowly but surely built up the squad into something special. The left-hander is still fairly new to captaincy – he has led India a few times but certainly hasn’t been able to show us just how good he is as a leader of men.
In the IPL, Gambhir had a chance to do that – especially after the snub by the Indian selectors when they named Virat Kohli as vice-captain – and he did that superbly. His emphasis on ‘we’ not ‘me’ showed that he has matured into a good thinking cricketer – not just one who likes to elbow Australians.
He also showed that captaincy doesn’t burden his batting – with 590 runs at an average of 36.87, he was the leading Indian batsman in the tournament. And only Chris Gayle scored more runs (733) in the tournament. As skipper, he led KKR to 12 wins in 18 matches this season and that counts for something in a format as unpredictable as T20.
Gambhir also showed that unlike Dhoni, who sometimes waits for things to happen, he is prepared to take the fight to the competition.
All this begs one question: Why isn’t Gambhir India’s skipper-in-waiting?
Virat Kohli, as skipper of the Bangalore Royal Challengers, was good (he also had Gayle in his side) but Gambhir was even better. So shouldn’t the best man get the job?
If Kohli was made vice-captain as a way for Mahendra Singh Dhoni to get back at Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir, then even though it seems like a good move politically, in tactical terms it doesn’t make sense because it will only foster a sense of anger in some sections of the team. Especially now, after they’ve seen that Gambhir is actually good at the job.
Kohli will, arguably, get the job at some point in his career. But Gambhir seems ready to take over right now. In fact, give Dhoni a rest and make Gambhir skipper in T20 or even ODIs and he wouldn’t do too badly. That much you can be sure of. The left-hander also seems capable of handling the egos of the senior batsmen quite well – with his intense approach; he can make it pretty clear that he only cares about winning.
And that will make everyone fall in line. Gambhir is driven by the intense desire to prove himself as a leader and that’s never a bad thing. Only hope that the five wise men have taken note of this.
If his alleged ‘misbehaviour’ in Australia deserved punishment then his win in the IPL should be rewarded too.