The legend of Gambhir

India’s world cup hero Gautam Gambhir retired from all forms of cricket after smashing a brilliant century against Andhra Pradesh in 2018-19 Ranji Trophy. Two years after he last played for India, Gambhir walks into the sunset.

He is one of the most elegant batsmen the world has ever seen and will always be remembered for his two important knocks in 2007 T20 and 2011 ODI world cup final, overshadowed by Sreesanth's match-winning catch and MS Dhoni's iconic six. For him, it was never about being in the limelight. His two most outstanding knocks took India to the world cup glory but he preferred to be in the background and kept producing match-winning performances. Gambhir (37) has played 58 Tests, 147 ODIs and 37 T20s for India scoring more than 10000 runs combined.

In his retirement video posted on the social media, Gambhir said, “After more than 15 years of cricket for my country I want to retire from playing this beautiful game. Despite all the aches and pains; fears and failures, I won’t mind a repeat of this in my next life too. But obviously, with a few more wins for India, a few more hundreds and in the next life may be a few five-wicket hauls as well.”

"This may sound a little wishful but then I have seen wishes do come true. Two World Cups, highest run-scorer in finals of both these games is a stuff dreams are made of and I only had this dream of winning the World Cup for you all. I think someone up there was writing my script but looks like now he has run out of his ink!

"But along the way, he wrote some fascinating chapters. Somewhere on the top is being part of the number one Test team in the world. A trophy that I look at very fondly is the one that I got for being awarded ICC Test batsman of the year in 2009. For a purist like me, it is a reward of somewhat knowing where my off stump was. The historic series win in New Zealand and in CB series in Australia will be reflected upon fondly. But I do hope the current Indian team Down Under can overshadow our feats. I won’t say the list is satisfactory as I feel I was good enough for a lot more."

Gambhir’s international career began in 2003 against Bangladesh. A year later, he made his test debut against Australia in Mumbai. Although, in his first 13 Tests and 19 ODI’S, he had just two international centuries and eventually lost his place in the Indian side. Gambhir went back to the domestic cricket and made a few adjustments in his technique in order to overcome the adversities at the international level. There are many things for which we remember cricketers, in Gambhir’s case it is the square-cut, the nudge off the legs, the chips over mid-wicket and extra-cover.  

He enjoyed a glorious period from the start of India's 2008 series in Sri Lanka to the end of their 2010-11 tour of South Africa. In this period, Gambhir scored eight hundreds in 24 Test matches and had an average of 60.52. He scored five successive Test centuries falling just short of Don Bradman's record of six and he also scored half-centuries in 11 consecutive Test Matches. Only, West Indies legend Viv Richards had achieved this feat before. 

At the end of 2011 World cup, Gambhir was 29 but he failed to maintain consistency in the upcoming tours of England and Australia. India was bewildered and lost both series by a heavy 0-4 margin. This defeat affected the Indian team in many ways and finally ended the career of many great players.

As an opener, Gambhir was second to none. He made a formidable partnership with another Delhi’s maestro Virender Sehwag. His calm and composed playing style matched perfectly with Sehwag’s aggressive intent. The duo averaged 50.54, which is the second best for an opening pair with more than 1500 runs behind Greenidge and Haynes. Despite the ups and downs in his international career, Gambhir played magnificently in the Indian Premier League (IPL) and led Kolkata Knight Riders to two IPL titles in 2012 and 2014.