The unsung hero of Indian cricket: Gautam Gambhir
Indian cricket has seen a lot of greats in the last few decades in the form of Sachin, Dravid, Ganguly, Sehwag, Dhoni, Yuvraj and more, but there is one person who has not got enough credit. That person is Gautam Gambhir.
Recently, at the age of 36 years, he scored his highest List A total of 151 runs off 104 balls, and although not out he still retired hurt, while some 10 overs were left in the match, to let other batsmen get a chance.
Gambhir has always been a man of strong character. Whether relinquishing the captaincy midway through last IPL, when he was not in form or his continuous support to the army or standing up for transgenders and dressing like them to make a bold statement, he has always stuc
The real reason that I feel Gambhir is an unsung hero in Indian cricket is based on two great innings he has played when needed the most for India, although we seem to have forgotten to give this man real acknowledgment.
India has won two World Cups in this century, the 2007 T20 and the 2011 ODI WC. We do know that Dhoni was one of the best captains ever and all Indians should always be indebted to him for his memorable leadership. But do we remember the person who had borne the pressure on both the occasions in the finale?
In both the finals, our memories are of Joginder Sharma bowling the last over and Sreesanth catching out Misbah, leading to India becoming the inaugural champions. The second occasion, we remember the huge six Dhoni hit to fulfil the dream of the entire nation and the God Sachin Tendulkar.
What we don’t value is that Gautam Gambhir was the top scorer for India in both the finals. He showed real courage when a billion people expected to win the Cup. In the 2007 final he scored 73 out of the total of 155 i.e approx 50% of the team runs. The next best that day was 30* by Rohit Sharma. No other batsman even scored more than 15 when the stakes were so high.
Irfan Pathan bowled beautifully and took 3 wickets for the Man of the Match Award. Agreed, his contribution was no less but was Gambhir’s any less?
His score on that day let India post a decent total, due to which we were able to set a competitive total for Pakistan.
Cut to 2011, India was chasing 280 plus on that high-intensity match in Wankhede. Sachin departed early, as he did in the 2003 world cup final. He might have been the best batsman after Bradman but somehow we all know he was not the killer chaser that we see in Kohli. It was Gambhir who stood up again for our India, scoring a stubborn 97 before departing and missing a very well deserved hundred.
Out came Dhoni promoting himself up the order and helped India win the cup by scoring 92* and hitting a lovely six to making the whole of India exuberantly happy. Man of the match: MSD.
Yes, Dhoni won India the match, he led us beautifully but how can we forget the platform given to him by Gambhir? In my view, we owe a lot to Gambhir for helping us win both the cups. He has been the common factor in both our greatest wins after 1983 and taking Indian cricket to even greater heights.
Alas, we have never given proper credit to that man. I have often wondered whether India would have won both cups if not for Gambhir. Let us imagine for a moment India not having won either 2007 or 2011. Well, I don’t see us being considered a cricketing superpower or Dhoni being one the best captains ever if he had not won those cups.
At 36, we do not know how much cricket is still left in Gambhir. But we do know that this man stood up when the country needed him the most.
Therefore in all righteousness, we should bow down a bit to Gambhir and thank him for his brilliant contribution even if he never got the optimum reward that he richly deserved. But he can take heart from the fact that his innings were very instrumental for Indian cricket and a billion supporters.