New Delhi: Winning is all what matters to Kolkata Knight Riders captain Gautam Gambhir as he intends to be "mean winner than a polite loser" when the reigning IPL champions take part in the upcoming Champions League Twenty20.
"We always take the field thinking that we will win and this time it is no different. Ideally, one should not be thinking about the title in the first lap of the competition but such is the subconscious mind that it often takes you to the title leap even before you reach there. That is why I want to focus on the first game against Chennai (on September 17) and not go too far," Gambhir told PTI in an interview here on Tuesday.
Asked whether he hurts himself at times by being too intense, the 32-year-old left-hander says that "it's too late in the day to change himself".
"Yes, a lot of people have told me that but my approach has always been like that. The other day I was playing badminton with Virender Sehwag, Ashish Nehra and a few others. There again it was not for enjoying the game but winning. I have always been like that.
"Frankly, I'd rather be a mean winner rather than a polite looser. I play to compete and not look good or make friends. It's too late in the day to change my approach, I am happy the way I am," Gambhir said.
Gambhir feels that KKR and other Indian franchises certainly have a better chance to win the CLT20 by playing in familiar conditions than teams like Barbados Tridents, Perth Scorchers or Dolphins.
"Well that is only natural. Like it will be more challenging for any Aussie team to win Big Bash if it took place in India, its vice-versa as well. But having said that it would have been extremely satisfactory as a captain if we had won the tournament in South Africa (2012).
"It would have symbolised that we are a good all-round side which not only thrives in Indian conditions but abroad as well. For a cricketer there is no bigger satisfaction than winning in foreign conditions. Yes, playing at home will be advantage to the Indian franchises," he said.
Gambhir didn't have a great outing in England in the two Test matches he played but the KKR skipper firmly believes that it will have little bearing on Champions League T20.
"Time is a big factor. I think the gap between the last Test match in England and first game of the CLT20 will take care of the confidence levels. Besides like I said T20 is a different format so I don't think the past will have much bearing on what lies ahead."
The last edition of Indian Premier League was a roller-coaster ride for Gambhir as he had a hat-trick of ducks before he got off the mark in the fourth match.
He tried to put things into perspective as he took the question in a sporting manner.
"I wish you hadn't reminded me of the start (laughs) but I guess will have to live with it now. The one run that I got after three consecutive ducks was one of the most important runs I'd have taken in my entire cricketing life," said Gambhir.
He however finished the tournament with a decent total of 335 runs to his credit.
"I think knockout happens in two cases, one when you dominate from the beginning or like me when you are cornered. I was almost dead after three ducks and a single run in four games. That is when I decided to go on offensive and thankfully it worked."
The KKR captain feels that switching formats from Tests to T20 won't be much of a problem for him and his players.
"Look attack comes naturally to Indian players which suits the approach to ODIs and T20 format. Therefore switching on won't be a problem.
"Although you require a great deal of skill to clear the boundaries but T20's, the pace (of the game) doesn't need any kickstart. It automatically brings a player into an auto mode. Plus in KKR we don't believe in big, wholesale changes, so each player knows what is role will be. I think it will help," he said.
Quizzed why KKR has been one of the more consistent of franchises in the last four seasons (two titles, one last four finish in 4 years), the emotional side of Gambhir comes out.
"I think there are a lot of factors. We in KKR believe in a happy dressing room. The day I came on to lead the side four years ago, I told the team one thing and that was, in KKR we don't drop players, we pick 11 cricketers to do the job," said Gambhir.
India's top order in ODIs bears a fragile look but Gambhir is more focussed on winning the CLT20 for his team rather than think about making it to the Indian team for the home series against West Indies, next month.
"I have always said that cricket is a team sport which doesn't have place for individual goals. I will be trying to help KKR win games and in the process if I get some runs and make a comeback to the Indian team so be it. But honestly, the tournament is about teams winning the title and not an individual staking a comeback," Gambhir said, making his priorities clear.
The southpaw believes that insecurity is a prime reason why a player's performance can slip towards downward spiral and that's where the KKR's team culture is a "winner".
"I'd like to believe that this culture where players do not feel insecure does help. Personally, for me there is an emotional connect too with KKR's massive fan base. I am an emotional man and like a charged up atmosphere. I think Bengali fans are KKR's X-factor. Most of all we play self-less cricket. In short playing the team-sport the way a team sport should be played."
Gambhir's take on T20 is opposite to what maximum people feel about the format. The KKR skipper reckons that it's about the bowlers rather than batsmen.
"A lot of captains believe that T20 is about batsmen but I somehow feel that it is about the bowlers. Therefore I am always looking at good bowling options through raw pace and spin. I think bowlers can win more T20 games than batsmen."
Jacques Kallis has now retired from international cricket but according to Gambhir is a part of the KKR "team management", helping him take key strategic decisions.
"Absolutely. Jacques is a part of the team-management which is the engine of KKR. He helps me take important decisions from team selections to bowling changes. He's a pillar of our dressing room and will continue to do so."
Asked whether some of the domestic players will be short on match practise ahead of the marquee tournament, Gambhir played down the issue.
"No I don't think so. In any case Robin (Uthappa) and Manish (Pandey) were playing KPL so I don't think anyone of the Knights will be rustic. Trust me, it is such a mindset game that once you cross the line your are on an auto-mode. Practice or confidence play very little part when a bowler is bowling at 140 KPH plus," he concluded.