Not Gautam Gambhir, KKR Star Credits This Ex-India Player For Team’s ‘Indian Core’

Drenched in emotion, Kolkata Knight Riders players highlighted the contributions of mentor Gautam Gambhir and assistant coach Abhishek Nayar in moulding the team into a champion outfit that outclassed Sunrisers Hyderabad to lift its third IPL trophy on Sunday. The likes of Andre Russell and Harshit Rana found it tough to describe the feeling of being IPL champions, even as they praised Nayar. KKR crushed Hyderabad by eight wickets in a completely one-sided final after bowling out their opponents for 113, the lowest ever total in an IPL title clash. This was KKR’s third IPL title.

“I cannot tell how happy I am,” Harshit, who picked up two wickets in the final, said after the triumph.

Even the seasoned Russell was lost for words as he tried to hold back his tears.

“No words to describe. It means so much. I am happy that all of us were very disciplined and worked towards one goal. This franchise has done a lot for me. It’s a big gift from all of us to them,” Russell said.

Varun Chakravarathy, who has had a successful season with his spin bowling, lauded Nayar’s contributions.

“All I can think right now is of the person who built this Indian core: Abhishek Nayar. ‘Please come here’,” he said, asking the former Mumbai batter to join them.

Venkatesh Iyer, who remained not out on 52 off 26 balls in an easy chase of 114, also mentioned Nayar’s role in the team’s success.

“Really happy with it. As Varun mentioned, Abhishek Nayar deserves all the credit in the world. Some contributions go unnoticed, I want to make sure they don’t. This guy deserves all the credit in the world for the way he has been working for this franchise.

“This win is for the fans who turned up year after year and waited for 10 years,” Venkatesh said.

Having lost the toss, KKR produced a clinical effort with the ball to dismiss SRH for 113, the lowest ever total in an IPL title clash.

KKR chased down the target of 114 with as many as 57 balls to spare, even as team mentor Gautam Gambhir and head coach Chandrakant Pandit watched the action unfolding in the middle from the dugout.

“I want to share one short story that when GG bhaiya was named the mentor. I sent him a long message as I was really happy. But he replied saying, ‘Thank you but I would be happy if we stand at the podium with the trophy in our hands’.

“Today is that day and I will never forget that message,” said Nitish Rana.

Seamer Vaibhav Arora, who bowled a beautiful delivery to dismiss the dangerous Travis Head, said, “My role is to take wickets with the new ball. After that the spinners were doing their jobs. So, today also the aim was to take wickets in the powerplay, which happened as well.” Rinku Singh said, “My dream of seven years is complete. Finally I will lift the trophy. I am proud of my whole team and GG sir. It was God’s plan.” KKR’s bowling coach Bharat Arun, whose behind-the-scenes nous played such a huge part in India becoming the world’s best Test side, praised the KKR players for their performance.

“I think it was pretty tough, the last two years. It was touch and go – we didn’t qualify. It needed a lot of introspection and now we can savour this moment.” When asked about Player of the Final Mitchell Starc, Arun said, “I think Mitch coming into the team boosted the confidence of other youngsters in the side. He is probably the best bowler in the world. Once he understood the Indian conditions, he was excellent.

“Spinners mature with age, and with Sunny (Sunil Narine) and Varun bowling in tandem, it was superb.” Speaking about Narine the batter, he said, “He brought a totally different dimension to our batting. It was Gautam who insisted that he opened and it paid dividends. It’s a great night and now it’s time to celebrate.” PTI AH AH UNG

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

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