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‘No senior-junior, no domestic-international’: Gautam Gambhir’s stirring speech on KKR return, eyes IPL 2024 title

IPL 2024: Gautam Gambhir made it clear that every player in KKR’s squad, whether an international star or a newcomer, will be treated equally.

It’s nothing short of a homecoming, or perhaps even bigger, for Gautam Gambhir. His reunion with the Kolkata Knight Riders is way more than a former captain returning to the team as a mentor. For Gambhir, it is in fact not even restricted to IPL or KKR. As he has time and again mentioned, he has a different bond with Kolkata, the city and its people. You could sense that in his first speech after joining the practice session of KKR at Eden Gardens on Friday.

Kolkata Knight Riders head coach Chandrakant Pandit (C), bowling coach Bharat Arun (L) and mentor Gautam Gambhir during a training session(PTI)

Gambhir was pretty clear about his feelings for the team, which he described as “a successful and proud” franchise. “We start this season from today. Whether it’s physically, mentally skill-wise, give everything possible. It’s a very, very proud and successful franchise.”

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“You guys are representing a very successful franchise. Make sure you train that way, you play that way and you carry that attitude around the field. That is going to be very, very important. And one thing I absolutely believe in is giving all the freedom to the players. That is something which is very, very important,” said Gambhir in a video posted by KKR on its social media handles.

Gambhir has every reason to feel emotional about his return to KKR. It was not a bed of roses when first came to the franchise as their new captain 13 years ago. He replaced the city’s all-time favourite, Sourav Ganguly, as captain and in his second attempt won the IPL. He repeated the same a couple of years later by giving KKR the second IPL title in 2014. KKR also reached the final of the Champions League under Gambhir’s leadership.

He was not only influential in getting the results but also created the core group of the team with inspired picks like Sunil Narine and Andre Russell who are still the pillars of KKR heading into the 17th season of IPL.

The former India opener made it quite clear that there won’t be any discrimination within the squad. Every player, whether an international star or a newcomer, will be treated equally.

“So people who played with me will know one thing about me, that everyone in this group will be treated equally. There’s no senior junior. There is no domestic, or international. So we have got one mission and that is to win this IPL.”

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Gambhir eyes third IPL title with KKR

KKR’s all-time highest run-scorer said he wants the team to reach the finals on May 26 and then lift the trophy.

“So everyone needs to follow that one simple path. On 26th May, we should be there giving everything possible, and it starts from today. It’s not gonna start on the 26th. It’s not gonna start on the 23rd.”

“It starts from today and this is what we want to do. So if we walk the same path and we fight, I’m sure we’re gonna achieve a lot of success. So good luck, guys. Have the freedom. Enjoy yourself. You can ask questions, whether behind closed doors or in front of everyone. And I can assure you, from a support staff point of view, that we’re gonna be absolutely honest to every one of you. So, good luck,” said Gambhir.

KKR will play their opening game of the IPL 2024 against Pat Cummins-led SunRisers Hyderabad (SRH) at the Eden Gardens in Kolkata on Saturday, March 23. The match will start at 7:30 pm.


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