Kolkata: Rating Gautam Gambhir ahead of Mahendra Singh Dhoni as far as captaincy is concerned, former India skipper Sourav Ganguly on Saturday put his money on Kolkata Knight Riders to win the fifth edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL). The Indian selectors might have lost faith in Gambhir, who was removed from vice-captaincy ahead of the Asia Cup, but Ganguly named the Delhi opener as the skipper to lead his best XI also featuring Dhoni.
"Gautam Gambhir is the best captain of the IPL. I really liked the way he supported his players. He persisted with Yusuf Pathan as he delivered his best performance (for KKR) in two years," Ganguly said, referring to the allrounder's 21-ball 40 in their win over Delhi in the first qualifier.
The Dhoni-led Super Kings who play their third final in as many years may be the favourites on paper but Ganguly put both the teams at par and hoped the Knight Riders would win their first title in five years. "I want to wish both the teams. But I want to see a new champion. I think KKR would win this time," he said.
"Gambhir would be equally confident on the field. They (KKR) are a pretty balanced side and have been consistent this season. They have the players to win matches," said Ganguly.
Ganguly however said Gambhir would not have to prove the selectors anything. "I don't thik he would play with a mindset that he would have to prove something. The way they have performed this season is enough to inspire themselves for the big day tomorrow," Ganguly said.
The Bengal icon however said the core CSK players could be "role models" for any side. "They have stuck to their side for five years with players like Dhoni, Vijay, Badrinath being the core of the side all these time. They can be a role model for any T20 side," Ganguly said. "I've always said Dhoni is unparallel in the short versions, though there would always be a question mark on him when it comes to Test cricket," he added.
The veteran said toss would play a crucial role at the Chepauk and also key would be the way Dhoni's men tackle mystery spinner Sunil Narine. "Toss would be vital. I'm sure (Gautam) Gambhir would hope to win the toss and set a target. The whole game would change if Gambhir wins the toss. But at the same time, Chennai's 50 per cent job would be done if they manage to tackle Narine," he said.
Ganguly also did a post-mortem on the disastrous exit of Delhi Daredevils and held skipper Virender Sehwag responsible. "He did the biggest mistake by inviting Chennai to bat after winning the toss. The decision of not playing spinners Shahbaz Nadeem and Roelof van der Merwe was also surprising," he said about Delhi's 86-run loss last night.
Ganguly further said that Sehwag blundered in Pune when he opted for just one spinner on the slow track as they lost to KKR who made their first final in five attempts. "Delhi got completely wrong in their team combination in Pune. Even in my dream I cannot think of playing one spinner and four seamers on Pune track," Ganguly said. "Sehwag is responsible for both KKR and CSK's passage into the final. I just failed to understand his decisions," he said.
Asked about his team's flop show as they finished with the wooden spoon, Ganguly, in a lighter vein, replied: "The trend in IPL has been the team that finishes last plays the final..." Without ruling himself out for the IPL-VI, he said, "We did not bat well. Be it Ganguly or Clarke. We will have to start from zero next time. I'm yet to decide on my role in the team next year."
Ganguly's Best XI: Gautam Gambhir (c), Chris Gayle, Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli, Cameron White, Mahendra Singh Dhoni (wk), Jacques Kallis, Sunil Narine, Dale Steyn, Morne Morkel and Lasith Malinga; Stand-bye: Virender Sehwag; Coach: Stephen Fleming.