Last month, the 38-year-old stood down from the Daredevils captaincy after a run of five defeats in his side’s opening six matches in the IPL this year. The former Kolkata Knight Riders stalwart had struggled with the bat individually as well, managing just 86 runs.
After giving up the captain’s armband, Gambhir did not feature in the playing XI at all as Indian U19 star Prithvi Shaw claimed his place in the team for the remaining matches.
After the season-ending win over Mumbai Indians, Delhi Daredevils coach Ricky Ponting had suggested that Gambhir had made way for other batsmen in the wake of his decision to step down as the skipper of the team.
“I thought it was a really courageous decision for a senior Indian player to make. You don’t see those made every day,” Ponting had said at the post-match press conference.
“He stood down for what he thought was for the betterment of the team. He made way for someone like Prithvi Shaw.
“That says a lot about him as a human being, says a lot about his character.”
However, Gambhir has contradicted his coach’s statement in an interview with Wah Cricket.
“I never dropped myself from the playing XI. If that was the case I would’ve announced my retirement as well,” Gambhir said.
“I never rejected from playing in the side and the team management and Ricky Ponting is also aware of the fact,” he added.
The Daredevils finished at the bottom of the table though they did manage to end their season on a high with wins over Chennai Super Kings and Mumbai Indians.
Weather will be the main concern as Kolkata Knight Riders play Rajasthan Royals in the IPL Eliminator on Wednesday. Rain forced both teams to skip training on Tuesday and there is a chance of rain on Wednesday as well.
Kolkata hold the upper hand as they have not only won both their league games against Rajasthan but are also playing at their home ground – Eden Gardens.
Rajasthan made the cut after Punjab and Mumbai lost their final league games, meaning the Royals won’t have the pressure of expectations.
With star opener Jos Buttler back in England, there is a hole at the top of order for Rajasthan and they can look to open the innings with wicketkeeper Heinrich Klaasen. They tried out Jofra Archer in that position without success. Klaasen is a proven performer and worth the risk.
The Knight Riders need a special effort from all-rounder Andre Russell as the seam attack is lacking severely in the experience department.
Kolkata Knight Riders: Sunil Narine, Chris Lynn, Robin Uthappa, Nitish Rana, Dinesh Karthik (c, wk), Shubman Gill, Andre Russell, Javon Searles, Piyush Chawla, Kuldeep Yadav, Prasidh Krishna
Rajasthan Royals: Ajinkya Rahane (c), Rahul Tripathi, Sanju Samson, Heinrich Klaasen (wk), Stuart Binny, K Gowtham, Shreyas Gopal, Ish Sodhi, Jofra Archer, Jaydev Unadkat, Ben Laughlin
Having restricted the Sunrisers to 139-7 in their 20 overs, the Super Kings attained victory with five balls to spare in a dramatic clash at the Wankhede stadium.
Here, we look at the talking points from the closely-fought encounter.
SUNRISERS’ HORROR START
In a high-stake clash of a qualifier, Sunrisers Hyderabad’s innings got off to the worst possible start. In-form opener Shikhar Dhawan was bowled off the very first delivery of the match after he attempted to a cut an in-swinger from Deepak Chahar.
Skipper Kane Williamson had then just started steadying the ship with some flowing boundaries before Shreevats Goswami was caught and bowled by the fired up Lungi Ngidi in the fourth over.
That abysmal start soon turned into a full-blown crisis when Williamson and Shakib Al Hasan were dismissed in innocuous fashion to reduce Hyderabad to 50-4. Both the batsmen gloved leg-side deliveries to MS Dhoni behind the stumps.
Dream start for CSK..— Broken Cricket (@BrokenCricket) May 22, 2018
Shikhar Dhawan out for Golden Duck!
BRATHWAITE CAMEO SALVAGES SUNRISERS INNINGS
When Yusuf Pathan became the sixth Hyderabad wicket to fall, Sunrisers were rocking at 88-6 at the end of the 14th over. With both time and wickets running out, it looked like Williamson’s men would have to settle for a subpar total.
That is when their decision to stick with West Indies all-rounder Carlos Brathwaite in place of Alex Hales paid off immensely. The 29-year-old from Barbados was watchful at the start of his innings but launched into the death bowling with some mighty blows. Brathwaite took a particular liking to Shardul Thakur’s medium pace as he smashed the seamer for four huge sixes on his way to an unbeaten 43 from 29 deliveries.
It was the all-rounder’s innings which was responsible for the Sunrisers posting a challenging total eventually.
Carlos Brathwaite ❤️❤️🏌️♂️🏌️♂️ got his golf swing going. Some hitting from the big man @TridentSportsX— Quetta Gladiators (@TeamQuetta) May 22, 2018
CHENNAI GET OFF TO EQUALLY HORRIBLE START
Chennai Super Kings’ start to their chase of 140 runs mirrored the Sunrisers innings. Like Dhawan, opener Shane Watson fell for a duck in the very first over to Bhuvneshwar Kumar. The innings had just started gaining some momentum before Siddharth Kaul picked up two wickets in two balls to send back the in-form Suresh Raina and Ambati Rayudu in the fourth over. Both the batsmen were clean-bowled with Raina missing one around his legs while Rayudu fell prey to a peach of an out-swinger that took the top of his off-stump.
The Sunrisers’ bowlers turned the screw on Chennai and when Rashid Khan bowled MS Dhoni through the gates, the equilibrium of the match had shifted completely towards the fielding side.
Rashid Khan :— Jaanvi 🏏 (@ThatCricketBuff) May 22, 2018
Virat Kohli ✔
AB de Villiers ✔
MS Dhoni ✔
No one picked his googly. What a bowler!#SRHvCSK
DU PLESSIS’ STUNNER WINS IT FOR CHENNAI
As Chennai Super Kings’ innings started disintegrating, they needed someone to play a blinder of a knock similar to that of Brathwaite. Luckily, they got just that from South Africa’s Faf du Plessis.
The Proteas skipper was circumspect as those around him continued to falter but he changed gears just when it was needed to pull off an unlikely victory for the Super Kings. With 43 runs required from three overs for a Chennai win, Brathwaite went from hero to zero as Du Plessis took him for one six and three boundaries in the 18th over. The South African reached his fifty off 37 balls before he sealed the win for his side with a straight six.