Paddy Upton feels Gautam Gambhir’s class was upstaged by Virender Sehwag’s flamboyance for the majority of his career. The South African believes Gautam Gambhir did not get due credit for performing under pressure.
Paddy Upton was India’s Mental Conditioning and Strategic Leadership Coach in 2011. He was a part of the backroom staff that won the World Cup back in 2011.
He spoke to cricket.com about the 2011 World Cup win, discussing how the team was confident in Gautam Gambhir’s abilities despite losing Sehwag and Tendulkar early on in the final.
“There was that additional pressure and disappointment of having Sehwag and Tendulkar back in the change room. But the reality was, you had two of the best high-pressure players in the team – one of them at the crease – Gautam Gambhir. Gary Kirsten used to call him the rock. He spent most of his career as Sehwag’s sidekick, recalls Upton.
India famously lost both Sachin Tendulkar and Virender Sehwag within seven overs, with the hosts reeling at 31/2 in the final. Batting at No.3, Gautam Gambhir stitched crucial partnerships with Virat Kohli and MS Dhoni, scoring a brilliant 97.
Looking back at the importance of Gautam Gambhir’s knock, Paddy Upton admitted the left-hander was the glue that kept the batting line-up together. He also explained how Gautam Gambhir was the perfect foil to Virender Sehwag’s aggression.
“Sehwag would be the guy who used to be on the highlights package and play the flamboyant cricket and get the crowd cheering. Gambhir would just squirt the ball with that square drive behind backward point. He wouldn’t get the crowd going and he wouldn’t make it to the highlights package, but Gambhir was the glue that kept the great batting line-up of that era together," explained Upton.
Upton hails Gautam Gambhir and MS Dhoni
Gautam Gambhir and MS Dhoni were the two heroes of the 2011 World Cup final, as India chased down Sri Lanka’s target in the 49th over. The skipper’s 91* came under immense pressure, with MS Dhoni not doing much with the bat before the final.
Sharing how the team felt when the duo were out in the middle, Paddy Upton conceded Gambhir and Dhoni were best suited to pull off the chase.
“Although he had not delivered with the bat for seven games until then, MS Dhoni was at that time, probably still is, the best in the world when it comes to second innings chase in white-ball cricket. So, we really did have, in truth, our two biggest guns or two biggest bullets still in the chamber," concluded Upton.
MS Dhoni and Gautam Gambhir put up a 109 run partnership in the final, with the duo’s contribution being the main reason why India won the final by six wickets.