Gautam Gambhir: The Unsung Hero & Team Player

Picture Courtesy: CricketDawn

Gautam Gambhir on Tuesday announced his retirement from all forms of cricket via a video announcement on social media.

“After more than fifteen years of cricket for my country, I want to retire from playing this beautiful game,” he said.

He last represented India in Rajkot Test against England in November 2016 and is set to end his career after Delhi’s Ranji Trophy match with Andhra, beginning Thursday.

Gambhir made his international debut in 2003 and played 58 Tests, 147 ODIs, and 37 T20Is. Over the course of his career, he scored 20 international centuries. He was recognised as the ICC Test Player of the Year in 2009 and many will remember his contributions to India’s victories in the World T20 2007 and Cricket World Cup 2011.

With him deciding to hang up his gloves, let us recapitulate some of the high points of this unassuming cricketer’s career.

Successful career overall

Gautam has nine 100’s and 22 50’s in his 58 test career.  He has scored over 4000 runs at a creditable average of 42. He has a 200 in test cricket. Four of his test tons were abroad and five at home. India has never lost a match in which Gautam hit a test hundred. We had 4 wins and 5 draws.

He also played almost 150 ODI for over 5000 runs at a terrific average of almost 40. He has 11 ODI hundreds ( 8 match-winning ones) and 34 50’s. His highest ODI score was 150.

Gautam had another test record to his credit, having 50’s in consecutive 11 test matches, to equal the records of Viv Richards and Virendra Sehwag. Subsequently, Mominul-ul-Haq of Bangladesh too scored 50’s in 11 consecutive tests and AB De Villiers and Joe Root broke Gautam’s record by scoring 50 in 12 consecutive tests.

Gautam is one of only four Indian cricketers to win the ICC Test cricketer of the year award, the others being Rahul Dravid, Virendra Sehwag and Ravi Ashwin. ( Sachin and Virat have won Cricketer of the year Awards).

One of only 4 players to have 5 test centuries in 5 matches

Only one player has hit hundreds in six consecutive test matches and its none other than the great Don Bradman. However, there are only four players ( including Don Bradman) who have centuries in 5 consecutive Test matches. Gautam is one of them along with Jacques Kallis and Mohd. Yousuf. Two of these 5 tons by Gambhir were in New Zealand which is not a happy hunting ground for Indian batsmen. Two were in India and 1 was in Bangladesh. Four of these 5 tons were in the second innings, which shows Gambhir’s mental toughness. With this feat, Gautam crossed Sunny Gavaskar and Rahul Dravid who had test hundreds in four consecutive Tests.

World Cup Hero who did not get his due

In both the World Cups, India won recently, Gautam was one of the best performers, especially in the most difficult match of the tournament- the high-pressure final. In the 2007 T20 World Cup, Gautam was the highest scorer for team India. He had three 50’s in the tournament and in the final his knock of 75 in 54 balls helped India set up a target of 158. India were well and truly on top with Pakistan at 104/7 in 16 overs and 54 required in 24 balls when Misbah-ul Haq took them to a stroke of victory. However, India won by 5 runs.

Similarly in the 2011 ODI World Cup final, chasing a competitive 274, India were in a spot of bother at 31/2 with Sehwag out in 2nd ball itself and Sachin too for 18 soon after. Gautam, who came in at the 3rd ball itself steadied the ship with Virat, who was out for a crucial 35 with the score at 114. Thereafter, Gautam and Dhoni had a match-winning partnership of 109, and when Gautam departed at a well made 97, India were at the doors of victory with 52 required at a run a ball with 6 wickets in hand.

In my opinion, Gautam’s sterling contribution in both the World Cup wins is not given as adequate mention as it should have been.

Successful stand-in captain

Gautam was a successful stand-in-captain for India, when he led the team to a 5-0 whitewash over the visiting New Zealand team. He was also the man of the series and in the 3rd ODI when the series was won, he scored his highest ever ODI score of 150 and was man of the match that time as well. He also captained the ODI team, a 6th time versus West Indies and that match too was won by India. Therefore, it is a 100% win record for him as captain.

Successful IPL Career

Gautam has been a successful IPL player and captain. He has led the KKR team to two titles. This year, he returned to his original IPL team, the Daredevils but unfortunately did not do well and for the team’s interests, dropped himself.

Recently during a Vijay Hazare Trophy match, Gautam scored 151 but chose to retire hurt when over 10 overs were left to give others a chance to bat. This was an extraordinary gesture when normally he would have been expected to try for his 1st 200 in a List A 50 over match (maybe last as well). Apparently, he still has hopes of making it to Indian team which seems difficult with KL Rahul, Prthvi Shaw and Mayank Agarwal being 1st 3 choices and presumably recently dropped Murali Vijay still in reckoning. However, one has to praise his motivation to keep going.

It is unlikely that he will make it back to Indian team. However, there is no doubt he has