Forging Relationships And Handling Transitions Among Gautam Gambhir’S Challenges As India Coach

(MENAFN- IANS) New Delhi, July 11 (IANS) With Gautam Gambhir assuming the role of head coach, he inherits a formidable India men's team that recently secured victory in the ICC T20 World Cup 2024 and made notable runners-up appearances in the 2023 ODI World Cup and World Test Championship. As he embarks on his stint until 2027, Gambhir faces a multitude of challenges.

The first challenge Gambhir faces is to find his footing and build camaraderie in a dressing room with players he was previously teammates with -– like Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli among others. Rajat Bhatia, the former all-rounder for Delhi and Kolkata Knight Riders, believes Gambhir's ability to support players and everyone associated with the team will be advantageous for him.

“He backs not only the players but also the coaching staff. That is one of the reasons why KKR won –- they had a good side and there is no doubt about that. Chandrakant Pandit and Abhishek Nayar are very good coaches and they already were doing their part in a very decent manner.”

“But I think Gautam Gambhir was one of the missing links which they required. He's the kind of guy who normally can make decisions and back his own team. Before the start of IPL 2024, I predicted that he is going to make Sunil Narine open again because that is the same formula he used in 2014. So, he believes one of the formulas applied before can give him a correct answer, and that is what he is going to apply again and again,” says Bhatia to IANS.

Gambhir's route to becoming the head coach of the Indian team has involved taking on mentorship roles in the IPL, despite lacking substantial coaching experience beforehand. This was also the case for Ravi Shastri and Anil Kumble when they were appointed to the top job in the Indian team.

Under Gambhir's mentorship, Lucknow Super Giants entered playoffs in consecutive seasons. He then switched to mentoring Kolkata Knight Riders - the team he led to two IPL titles - and got them the trophy in May.

Though Bhatia admits to being a little bit concerned about Gambhir's lack of coaching roles beyond being the mentor of LSG and KKR respectively, at the same time, he feels the two-time World Cup winner can switch seamlessly from a mentor to head coach.

“Now, a different name is being given to this kind of job. If you normally see, a mentor and coach are very similar now. You just need your staff – like a batting coach or an assistant coach. Already you get so much of staff and it would be right to call that he is a mentor plus coach of the Indian cricket team now.”

“He's a guy who has already played for India for so many years and has really performed well in the two white-ball World Cup finals. I always feel he can make an optimistic transition to coaching, as it's not like he is not having any kind of experience before.”

“He did this mentorship for two IPL teams. Just a few months back, KKR became an IPL champion. So, he's in a positive frame of mind in going into the Indian team as a coach. It will definitely help him; so, let's hope for the best, that's what I can say.”

Gambhir's tenure will also involve managing the transition between different formats of the game for the Indian team. The retirements of Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli, and Ravindra Jadeja mark the initiation of the transition in T20Is.

The Test setup underwent incremental changes after the series against the West Indies last year, and there are plans for more substantial transitions post the World Test Championship final in 2025. India's ODI side will also undergo a transition once the 2025 Champions Trophy concludes.

Besides the transitions, Gambhir will also need to juggle the workload of several crucial players and effectively prepare for the five-match Test tours of Australia (later this year) and England (next year).

“He has to take these challenges head-on because we just won a T20 World Cup when Rahul Dravid was there. So, definitely, it is going to be a challenge for him to maintain that kind of standard and that is the most difficult part.”

“You can become a champion, but to stay like a champion is much more difficult, like how West Indies and Australia ruled international cricket. So, it is going to be a challenge for him to keep that standard on,” adds Bhatia.

There have been reports suggesting Abhishek Nayar, R. Vinay Kumar, Lakshmipathy Balaji, and Ryan ten Doeschate are in consideration for joining Gambhir's support staff, something which doesn't surprise Bhatia.

“There are many things that Gautam Gambhir would like to have. Like, he believes in his own people. He has that kind of trust in those guys and he will bring them into the system.”

“I am not too sure who all can get in, as BCCI will have theirs' and his say too. But if he wants his own people into the system, then why not, because that's what you want, right? That's one reason why they have got a guy who normally believes in his system and theories,” stated Bhatia.

It remains to be seen how Gambhir will handle the various challenges as he begins a new chapter with the Indian team, this time as the head coach. How he overcomes these challenges during his tenure will heavily influence the future triumphs and destiny of the Indian team.



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