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Learnt a lot from Russell, Narine and Ten Doeschate: Gambhir

This is your franchise. Make it or break it, KKR mentor recalls Shah Rukh Khan as saying in 2011 and again last year

Back in colours purple and gold after 2017, Gautam Gambhir smiled more in two hours on Monday evening than he had in eight seasons with Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR), got the biggest cheer, promised the team would fight and said something that was contrary to popular belief.

Kolkata Knight Riders mentor Gautam Gambhir and officials unveil a jersey.(PTI)

“I did not make KKR a successful franchise. It was KKR that made me a successful leader,” said Gambhir, now a mentor with the team who led KKR to IPL titles in 2012 and 2014.

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“I am a very tough guy to manage,” he said, thanking owner Shah Rukh Khan and KKR managing director Venky Mysore, “for putting up with my tantrums.”

Returning to KKR had everything to do with Shah Rukh repeating in 2023 what he had in 2011 when he was made captain. “This is your franchise. Make it or break it,” Gambhir recalled Shah Rukh as saying.

Gambhir also mentioned three overseas KKR players he had learnt from. Andre Russell, Sunil Narine and Ryan ten Doeschate made him the captain he was.

“Dre Rus taught me to put my body on the line. I saw the emotions and insecurities Sunil Narine went through as he had to remodel his action and still go on to be the best bowler in IPL history. From him, I learnt the importance of sacrifice.

“And from Ten Doeschate the importance of putting team before self. In 2011, when I led the team out for the first time, he was coming off a good World Cup but didn’t shirk from carrying drinks.” Ten Doschate, now KKR’s fielding coach, is someone, “I can take a bullet for.”

Gambhir was speaking during an interaction with KKR captain Shreyas Iyer and coach Chandrakant Pandit at an event where KKR launched their shirt for the season and an application where fans can get all information on the team.

With the trio still with the franchise —Narine and Russell stay part of the team core — Gambhir told the gathering, which included fans, that KKR will fight this season. “You have a right to get angry with us, abuse us but we will try to have you smiling at the end,” Gambhir told the fans.

Nitish Rana, the stand-in captain last term after Iyer was injured, said if there was one thing KKR missed in 2023 it was the presence of a death bowler. “That has been sorted this time with Starc,” he said with Mitchell Starc standing next to him.


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