Chennai: “Your body is a slave of the mind.” It looks like former India cricketer W.V. Raman has taken a cue from the idiom as he is one of the brains behind the resurgence of Kolkata Knight Riders this season. The batting coach of KKR has especially played a key role in the rebirth of skipper Gautam Gambhir.
With optimism running through his tone, Raman said it was about tuning the mind rather than tinkering with the technique of Gambhir. “The more worked up you are mentally, the more difficult it becomes to get rid of the rough patch. I told Gambhir to enjoy batting and focus on just playing 10 overs instead of trying to score quick runs after his initial failures,” said the KKR batting coach, who had spent some time with the Delhi batsman last June as his personal coach.
“The emphasis was on Gauti being calm so that he doesn’t go hard at the ball. It in turn helps him get into good positions, react better and ensure sweet connection with the ball,” added the 49-year-old on what made the turn around possible for Gambhir. Gambhir had a particular liking to binary digits — 0, 0, 0 and 1 — in his first four outings in the IPL this season. After three ducks on the trot, the skipper decided to move a position down only to improve on his opening performance by a run. Though the decision appeared to be triggered by a crisis in confidence, Raman said it wasn’t negative. “It was an effort to break the pattern of getting out early,” he added.
The coach pointed out that the moment Gambhir got a pull-shot and a cut under way he knew the silken touch was back. “He is very good at playing the forcing shot off the back foot. It was like an overnight transformation,” he said. If the captain leading from the front with the bat was a boon for Kolkata, his opening partnership with Robin Uthappa has become a talking point of the tournament now. It was a case of better late than never as KKR opted to go in with Uthappa and Gambhir only during the India-leg.
“Initially we wanted Robin to play the role of a finisher with Jacques Kallis at the top. Then he approached us saying that he would like to open, a job which he had carried out successfully for his state. Robin’s exceptional show has vindicated his self-belief,” Raman said. Can Gauti and Robin come back for India? Raman said the ball isn’t in his court. “There are various people involved. A lot of players have impressed this season. It’s up to the national selectors.”
Over the past three years the statement, “We all know what Yusuf Pathan can do” has assumed the tone of a cliché.
On Saturday the belligerent batsman came out firing. The Baroda-blaster (72 off 22 balls) tore apart Sunrisers Hyderabad to hand Kolkata the second spot on the table. How does Raman handle a hotshot like Yusuf? “We knew it was a matter of time because he was striking the ball well in the nets. It was important that we kept him invigorated and didn’t make him feel that he wasn’t firing,” he said....