‘Maybe I just couldn’t handle the pressure’ — Gautam Gambhir
Gautam Gambhir, who stepped down as Delhi Daredevils captain in the IPL on Wednesday, said that his lack of runs and the poor run of his team had led to him taking the big decision.
When a team loses five games out of six, things are bound to get rocky. With Delhi Daredevils in IPL 2018, the situation has led to Gambhir stepping down as the team captain and young Shreyas Iyer, who made his international debut late last year, being handed the reins.
Gambhir, who had led Kolkata Knight Riders to two IPL titles, was not retained by the franchise in the 2018 auction and was picked up by Delhi, his home team, who later named him their captain. But bar a last-ball win over Mumbai Indians, who are also on one win from six games, Delhi have won nothing this season.
“As the leader of the ship, I take complete responsibility for where we are on the points table. I have decided seeing the points table and the performance of the team to step down,” said Gambhir at a press interaction to announce his resignation. He has, however, said that he will continue as a player if selected.
Gambhir, 36, shot down suggestions that he had been asked to quit, saying, “I was the one who initiated the meeting. I thought that I haven’t contributed enough, and at the same time the performance of the team – I had to take the responsibility being the leader of the ship and I owe that responsibility, I should as a leader.”
Gambhir’s performance with the bat has been poor too after he started the competition with a 42-ball 55 against Kings XI Punjab. Since then, he has scored 15, 8, 3 and 4.
“Maybe I was too desperate to turn things around, and at times that can backfire as well,” he said. “Because sometimes you are too eager and you are too keen and you are too desperate to turn things around, it just makes you hard on your own self and that could be the reason.
“And sometimes you realise that maybe I just couldn’t handle the pressure, which came with the position and the responsibility I was given.”
Ricky Ponting, the Delhi coach who stepped down from the captaincy at Mumbai Indians under similar circumstances in 2013 before Rohit Sharma took charge and led the team to the title, was full of praise for Gambhir.
“It’s really unheard of before in Indian cricket for a senior player to put his hand up and say ‘I don’t think I am playing well enough and for the team’s sake I am going to stand down’. I did it when I was at Mumbai as a player. I knew that there were better players that I was keeping out of the side, and obviously Gautam has decided to do the right thing. I think it’s a really good opportunity for the media and the public to just really give him some credit for what he has done,” said Ponting.
For his part, Iyer, the 23-year-old Mumbai batsman who has been with the Daredevils since his first IPL season in 2015, said he was going to take the challenge head on.
Gambhir described the decision to promote Iyer as “the way forward for the franchise”, and Iyer added, “I am really loving the responsibility they have put up on me and also the faith they show up on me. I love facing challenges and it’s a great opportunity for me to prove myself.”
Delhi next play Kolkata at home on Friday.