Under the SKanner: Gautam Gambhir
We dissect Gautam Gambhir's strengths and weaknesses!
Almost everyone is aware of the Napier story. The way India batted for close to 180 overs to salvage a draw against New Zealand in 2009 showed the grit and valour of one of the best ever Indian Test teams.
An integral member of the squad and the dark knight of the mammoth innings was Gautam Gambhir, revelling in his newfound form and breaking records by the match. It was the same Gambhir who would play a crucial 97 two years later to make India world champions.
Also read: Under the SKanner: Rohit Sharma
It’s quite a different story for Gautam Gambhir, the international cricketer, now. He returned to the Test whites after a long hiatus last year and has been constantly knocking on the selectors’ doors for quite a while now.
We analyse his strengths and weaknesses as a batsman:
Against the pacers:
Gambhir is adept at playing the pacers, both on the front and back foot. His strengths lie in cutting and slashing the deliveries on the off side, as well as nudging it off his hips to the leg side. He can kill the pace and bounce of rising deliveries, using deft touches to steer them behind point.
He is comfortable playing the bouncer: his technique of pulling the ball allows him to keep it down when needed, or smack it away to deep midwicket if required.
He is also strong off the hips and pads, putting away deliveries angling into him with ease. It doesn’t take him any effort to flick or glance the deliveries away.
Against the spinners
One of the best players of spin, Gambhir uses his feet immensely well against the spinners, using soft hands to nurdle the ball in the gaps. His go-to shot against the spinners is the inside-out shot over the covers, dancing down the pitch to get to the ball and slam it away.
He is also extremely quick to go on the backfoot and smother the turn and bounce, playing the ball extremely late to guide the ball on or around the off stump past point or gully.
Comfortable against both pace and spin, Gambhir isn’t a regular in the Indian team anymore. Here are a few glitches in his game that still haven’t been rectified:
Gambhir’s tendency to play the ball late and away from his body has been the subject of his undoing for a while now. He ends up poking at deliveries outside the off stump, and ends up handing an easy edge to the wicketkeeper or slips.
Also, as deftly as he plays the spinners with soft hands, he doesn’t employ the same against pacers, sometimes using hard hands while driving or slashing, which presents the danger of catching a thick edge and going in the slip cordon.
The lack of feet movement from him while playing pacers on the backfoot can be a big hindrance in swinging conditions, despite having incorporated his new technique, complete with an open stance, to counter the problem.
For deliveries pitched just on or outside the off stump, Gambhir gets beaten by the angle, unable to make up his mind whether to play the ball to the leg side or straight down the ground. A back of a length delivery in this area finds him wanting sometimes.
Along with all these technical nuances, there is the additional issue of temperament - a rush of blood sometimes riles him up enough to throw his wickets away: the opposition can sledge him and trouble his concentration.
Having grown up on wickets that turn more than international tracks, Gambhir, even before becoming an international mainstay, established his reputation of being one of the best players of the spin in the country.
Overlooked for the Champions Trophy 2017, Gautam Gambhir will have to put in the hard yards in the domestic circuit, if he aims to earn yet another international recall. At 35, it might be a very tasking proposition, but one can never overlook Gambhir’s vast experience and mental prowess.