MUMBAI: Despite having won just four out of 11 games, Kolkata Knight Riders captain Gautam Gambhir is confident that his team will be able to beat Mumbai Indians Tuesday's IPL encounter and stay in contention for the play-offs.
"We are very much in the race. I haven't heard anyone say that we're out. A lot of people are saying that we need to win five out of five. But if you see in the last three years teams have qualified in the top four with eight wins," Gambhir put up a brave face as his team prepares to take on the mighty Mumbai Indians.
"We're not thinking about the play-offs right now but we want to win as many games as we can from here," said Gambhir ahead of the crucial game.
Gambhir did not agree with the suggestion that the must-win situation the team finds itself in could be a blessing in disguise in making his players more determined.
"Whether it's the start or the end of a tournament, we always go out there to win. The desperation is always there. Till now, we have approached every game with the same hunger and desperation and it's not that only because we are in a position like this that we are desperate to win.
"We have to look at the remaining games like any other game rather than thinking it's a must-win game," said Gambhir who the leading scorer for the team with 320 runs in aggregate.
Asked whether the team will go in with both their leading spinners Sunil Narine and Sachitra Senanayake on a wicket which helps pacers, Gambhir said they were quality bowlers who did not need support from a helpful track.
"Not sure (whether to play two spinners). Not seen the wicket so far. From what we have seen in games here, there's a little bit of bounce and some swing late in the evening. I believe we have quality spinners.
"They don't require (helpful) surfaces because when you have too many things up your sleeve they don't require surfaces. They both have a lot of variations and all that stuff. Last time, I remember we played three spinners and we were successful in defending 127. When you have a quality attack just go for that," he said.
Gambhir said small contributions from different players are what is crucial in the T20 format of the game.
"In T20 format, you're never in or out of form. For me, in this format, small contributions make big difference. If someone goes in the end overs and chases down 20 runs in two overs, that contribution makes a huge difference and wins you the game," he said.
He also said there was nothing to worry about the strike-rate of Jacques Kallis up the order.
"No, we're absolutely fine with his game. We've got all kind of players. There are people like Brendon (McCullum) and Yusuf (Pathan) who thrive on strike-rates and bat at a rate of more than 130-140. So, we need someone to anchor the innings and Jacques has been playing that role for us."
"We have picked our squad based on that thinking. We pick players to play the role that suits their own game rather than asking them to change their game. We need someone who the team can bat around the Jacques has done that very successfully for us."
He also praised the team's principal owner Shah Rukh Khan for the support he has given and insisted there was no pressure from that side on the players.
"Shah Rukh and the entire support staff has been fantastic. There have been no pressures from their side and have given me complete charge of the team. Whatever has happened with KKR in the last three years from the cricketing point of view have been my decisions."
Gambhir admitted that there is bound to be pressure when one is leading a high-profile side.
"Yes, there is pressure on you when you're leading a team. You are answerable to the owners and are expected to make the right decisions. I know that if the team doesn't do well, I am the one answerable for that. If you can't handle that, you shouldn't be captaining a side."
"But I am very lucky to have owners like Shah Rukh and Jay (Mehta) because they have been very professional and they don't get involved in the cricketing matters," he said.
Asked about his omission from the Champions Trophy squad, Gambhir gave a terse reply.
"I don't get disappointed or irritated when I am not picked. All I look to do is to score runs in whatever cricket I play, whether I am playing for ONGC, KKR, Delhi or India. Scoring runs was the reason why I started playing cricket and till the time I play this game, that will remain my sole focus."
"I can't do anything about the things I don't have control over. My job is to score runs and the selectors' job is to pick team," he concluded.