Chennai, May 28 (IANS) It was typical of Gautam Gambhir that he strenuously deflected attention from the individual to the team, downplaying his own role as a captain and also of other heroes of Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) Sunil Narine, Manvinder Bisla and Jacques Kallis, after their stunning five-wicket win over champions Chennai Super Kings in the Indian Premier League final here.
Gambhir said the story of Knight Riders was about team effort with individual players making their contributions. He dedicated the KKR's maiden IPL title to the team's fans in recognition of their support even when the Knight Riders struggled to make an impact over the years.
"The KKR fans deserve every bit of the success, they have always backed us. I said this before as well that when things weren't going our way they stood by us, and we wanted to win it for them."
"I just want to say thank you for all the support and love the fans have given us," said Gambhir at the post-match media conference in the early ours of Monday.
When specifically asked about the role of Narine, who came up with match-winning spells throughout the competition, Gambhir reiterated the success was about the team, not individuals.
"I have always said I hate to talk about individuals, it was not about Sunil Narine. KKR has never been about one individual, whether that's me or someone else. KKR is about we, and not me," he emphasised.
"That is what we wanted to prove to the entire country. It is the team that wins you games, not individuals. Each player is bound to contribute, they don't get selected just because they look good or they have something special."
"A bowler is picked to to do a job, a batsman is picked to score runs," said Gambhir.
The skipper, however, praised the efforts of Bisla and Kallis whose partnership for the second wicket turned the game around as the Knight Riders successfully chased a target of 191 despite losing the captain in the first over.
"First of all, it is not about me or that I got out early. It's about 11 people who took the field. We always had the belief that if any opposition can get 190 against our bowling attack, then it has to be a very good wicket to bat on."
"Throughout the tournament, the way we have bowled, we have never conceded so many runs, other than the one game against the Mumbai Indians where they got 180-odd," Gambhir said.
"The guys proved it. The way Bisla batted, the maturity and experience that Jacques showed and the cameos from Shakib (al-Hasan) and (Manoj) Tiwary at the end... It is not about how you start, but it's how you finish. Those performances won the game for us," Gambhir opined.
Regarding his own contribution with the bat given that he was not in the best of form, Gambhir said it did not matter much so long as the team performed and won matches.
"There has been a lot of talk about my form. I got a hundred in Bangladesh, I had a decent ODI series, but it was not about that. It was important to all of us to make this country believe that it's not about individuals."
Asked about him sitting in the dugout with his pads on throughout the chase, Gambhir admitted that it was partly due to superstition.
"Now I can be honest and tell you that it was a superstition. There was only once in the tournament when I took off my pads after I got out, and that was against the Kings XI. We could not manage to get 13 from 12 balls in the end."
The IPL victory was still to sink in, said Gambhir when told that he was not smiling despite the triumph.
"Maybe, it has to sink in. Maybe when that happens, I'll get a smile on my face. As I said, that's how I've been. It works for me. Being intense does not mean that you're always serious."
Summing up the chase, Gambhir said he always believed the target was gettable despite his early dismissal so long as they maintained the required run rate.
"The most important thing was to stay in touch with the required rate and take it to the 18th over with wickets in hand. In a big game, if you need 20 from the last two overs with six wickets in hand and have experienced guys like Shakib and Manoj at the crease, the batting side is going to come good more often than not."
"If the guys can keep the game alive till the 18th over, then it would take only one or two good hits in the end, and that's what happened. I would be lying if I said I was absolutely relaxed," Gambhir admitted.
"When you're playing such a big game, there is a bit of tension involved. But somewhere down the line I knew that we could cross the line."
Gambhir gushed forth when queried about Shah Rukh Khan's reaction to victory and said that the team owner hardly ever interfered in cricketing aspects.
"I can only guess that he should be happy. He is been a great owner. Not once in the tournament has he put any pressure on me or the team. Though we started by losing the first two games, he never interfered with the cricket aspects."
"There has been the suggestion that he has interfered in the past, but ever since I was made captain he has not interfered with the cricket. That's the kind of owner you want."
"It was important for us to win it for him because he's seen a lot of lows and controversies, and when someone has done that, it's important they get to savour success when it comes," said Gambhir.