Gambhir best among all captains in IPL 7, says Akram
Attributing Kolkata Knight Riders' second Indian Premier League title triumph to Gautam Gambhir's leadership skills, the team's bowling coach Wasim Akram said he is the best among all the IPL captains this season.
"It means a lot to the team when the skipper is performing well. It adds to the security and the self belief. He has led his troops very well. I believe he was the best captain in this IPL," Akram told the IPL's official website.
Kings XI Punjab rode on an unbeaten 115 from Wriddhiman Saha to post 199 for four in 20 overs but Gambhir was never unnerved and backed his bowlers. And Pakistan bowling great Akram was all praise for his captain's positivity.
"...from the 11th to the 15th over of the KXIP innings, instead of looking for dot balls -- which most captains do during that phase of the innings -- he encouraged his bowlers to bowl for wickets. That aggressive mindset and the belief he puts in his players makes him the best captain in the tournament," he added.
Image: Kolkata Knight Riders players celebrate winning IPL 7
'The credit goes to the captain and his team'
Kolkata became only the second IPL team after Chennai Super Kings to win the tournament twice and Akram credits excellent teamwork for the outcome.
"Our job is to keep things simple. We talk to the point and don't have long meetings. We just try to keep them relaxed and lend any assistance they need. That is the mantra that Trevor Bayliss and I go by. The credit goes to the captain and his team. We are here just to support them," said Akram.
As Yusuf Pathan enjoyed his third IPL triumph -- his first coming in the inaugural season with Rajasthan Royals -- Akram celebrated his second title win.
"It feels out of this world, but this time we're a lot calmer as well. The best thing about this team is that every member is enjoying each other's success and company. The foreign players and the Indian boys are really close, and that's great to see as a mentor," added Akram.
Image: Wasim Akram (left) speaks to Gautam Gambhir
'It has been special working with so many pacers'
Kolkata were lying at the bottom half of the table with four consecutive losses early in the tournament but staged a sensational comeback to win nine games on the trot enroute to the title.
Known to accommodate a lot of spinners in the team including Sunil Narine, Piyush CHawla and Shakib Al Hasan, KKR also boasted of a number of pacers this season including the likes of Morne Morkel, R Vinay Kumar and Umesh Yadav.
"Yes, we've had a number of pace bowlers this year. They are all intelligent bowlers and hard working cricketers. It has been special working with so many pacers who are all so different from one another. There's not much more you can ask as a coach" said the bowling consultant.
Image: Robin Uthappa (left) with Gautam Gambhir
'He was consistency and class personified'
Robin Uthappa, the top run getter in IPL 7, has been a steady force behind the teams' triumph and Akram insists that promoting him as opener after a the initial games was one of the moves that paid off.
"This was a new team with new combinations, and it took us five-six games to get it right. We realised that this guy would be better opening the batting and he proved us right. He was consistency and class personified," concluded Akram.
Image: Robin Uthappa