December 06 2018
Though not the most consistent or complete batsman to play for India, Gautam Gambhir was a big match player and came up with his best at very crucial moments for his team. As he retires from all forms of cricket, let’s look at 5 of his most memorable innings:
After being unceremoniously dumped from the ODI World Cup the same year, a young Indian team was picked for the inaugural World T20 under the captaincy of a young MS Dhoni. Yuvraj Singh’s heroics had taken India to the final against archrivals Pakistan but opener Virender Sehwag would miss the match because of injury. As wickets fell around him, Gambhir held his nerve to score a crucial knock of 75. He finished as India’s top scorer in the tournament as Dhoni’s men lifted the trophy.
Four years after being the hero of the T20 final, here he was again, being the hero in the final of the ODI format. India were set a target of 275 that had never been chased before in a World Cup final. No home team had won the World Cup previously. No team had lost a World Cup final when someone scored a century. Virender Sehwag and Sachin Tendulkar were already back in the dugout with Lasith Malinga spitting fire. Up against all these odds and with a 22-year-old Virat Kohli for company, Gambhir scored a masterful 97 that paved the way for another final victory and another trophy for Dhoni and his men.
India came into the second Test against New Zealand having won the first one in Hamilton. But it had all gone wrong in Napier with captain MS Dhoni out with injury and stand-in skipper Sehwag losing a crucial toss. Forced to follow on with 2 days of play left, Gambhir put on epic partnerships with Sachin, Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman to draw the Test and save the series for India. At the end, he had scored 137 runs after facing 437 deliveries in 642 minutes spread across 2 days. Another draw in the final Test at Wellington would help India clinch the series 1-0.
India were leading the 5 match series 2-1. Playing the fourth match at the Eden Gardens, India were chasing a target of 316 and had lost both openers early. Gambhir joined a young Kohli who was yet to score an ODI ton. Together they put on a 224-run stand for the third wicket. Kohli scored 107 while Gambhir remained unbeaten on 150 to steer India home with 9 balls to spare. He was awarded the Man of the Match but in a heartwarming gesture, he gave his prize to Kohli for scoring his first ODI ton.
After a half century in the first Test in Durban, Gambhir missed the second Test through injury. Coming into bat with India in trouble in both innings of the third Test, Gambhir mustered scores of 93 and 64 in two gritty knocks where his main purpose was to last at the crease. Jacques Kallis was named the Man of the Match but it was Gambhir who helped India draw the match and also the series.