IPL 2024: ‘Gambhir said I would be happy if we stand at podium with the trophy’, reveals Nitish Rana

Chennai, May 26 (IANS) Shortly after Kolkata Knight Riders clinched their third IPL title with an eight-wicket win over Sunrisers Hyderabad, in-form all-rounder Sunil Narine lifted team mentor Gautam Gambhir in jubilation and the two-time IPL-winning captain returned the favour to him.

One of the major talking points for KKR ahead of IPL 2024 was how would they perform with Gambhir returning as the mentor, with an eye to end their decade-long trophy drought, something which he talked in his first team speech at the pre-season camp in Kolkata.

On Sunday, Gambhir stayed true to his words as KKR lifted its third IPL title and 12 years after their first won the championship in 2012. “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,” revealed Nitish Rana in post-final chat with broadcasters.

The IPL 2024 triumph for KKR, shaped by their bowlers as they bowled out SRH for just 113, also left assistant coach and KKR academy head Abhishek Nayar joyful, after being called in to join by leg-spinner Varun Chakaravarthy.

“It means everything. I started playing IPL in the first season and it has taken me 16 years for the first title after two finals. I am really happy for the boys. I cannot express how happy I am. The big man (Andre Russell) turning up as usual. It is the most surreal feeling I have had in a long time.”

Similar emotions were echoed by Venkatesh Iyer, who top-scored in the chase of 114 with 52 not out off 26 balls. “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 ten years.”

Speaking of Russell, last year, he had a rough time with KKR in the IPL, with certain fans calling for him to be ousted from the set-up. But this year, Russell turned out to be one of the vital cogs in KKR’s triumph, leaving the big-hitting all-rounder in 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.”

Rinku Singh was at his jolly best over becoming an IPL-winning player with KKR. “Outstanding feeling right now. 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.”

Pacer Vaibhav Arora, who shined alongside Harshit Rana in the season, was happy to play his part in KKR’s spectacular triumph. “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.”

Bowling coach Bharat Arun said it is a moment which the whole unit will savour to the fullest. “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. He (Harshit Rana) has been outstanding. It’s about backing your strengths.”

He also thought Mitchell Starc’s inclusion was a huge boost for the side. “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.”

Arun also lauded the move to get Narine as an opener, which was proposed by Gambhir. “Spinners mature with age, and with Sunny and Varun bowling in tandem, it was superb. He (Narine) 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.”

Opener-keeper Rahmanullah Gurbaz was a late entrant to KKR eleven due to Phil Salt’s stellar performance and had to go back home due to his mother’s health. Now he’s a two-time IPL winner after being part of Gujarat Titans side in 2022.

“My mom is watching from the home. She is feeling good now. I asked mom before the match if she wanted anything. She said just the win. When Salt was playing, I wasn’t expecting to get a chance but I knew it’s a long tournament and I needed to be ready. Once I got the chance, I was well prepared.”

For now, there’s a talk in the KKR camp about the celebrations, with Harshit Rana saying, “I cannot tell how happy I am.” Angkrish Raghuvanshi echoed the same sentiment. “It’s yet to sink in yet. Maybe it will after the party at night.”

All-rounder Ramandeep Singh said he will be busy in selecting songs for the KKR party in Chennai. “I am really happy. We worked really hard for it, so feeling really happy. It’s a great environment. Poora gaah payeya hoeya hai (We have had a ball). I am the DJ, I play the song people demand.”



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