Gautam Gambhir, the third highest run-getter among Indian Test openers, has announced his retirement from all forms of cricket on Tuesday (December 4).
2011 World Cup winning opener Gautam Gambhir, on Tuesday (March 4) announced his retirement from all forms of cricket. Having made his Indian debut in the 2004/05 season, he represented the country in 58 Tests, 147 ODIs and 37 T20 Internationals. In his distinguished career, he was part of the Indian side that won the World T20 in 2007 and World Cup in 2011. He also featured in all 11 seasons of IPL, leading his franchise Kolkata Knight Riders to two IPL titles (2012 and 2014).
Tests – A career of two halves
Gambhir made his Test debut against Australia at the Wankhede in the 2004/05 season scoring 3 and 1 in a low scoring thriller. He soon scored his maiden Test century in Bangladesh – 139 in Chittagong – the following year before indifferent returns at home against Pakistan and Sri Lanka saw him getting dropped from the side. He played a solitary Test match in the next 30 months before making a return in Sri Lanka in 2008.
The next 18 months saw the best of Gambhir where he aggregated 2068 runs at 76.59 from 15 games, crossing the three-figure mark eight times. The period witnessed him scoring his only double hundred – 206 vs Australia – at his home ground Feroz Shah Kotla and leading the run charts in New Zealand with 445 runs from three Tests, including a match-saving 436-ball 137 at Napier. He batted on for a mammoth 643 minutes during the knock while following-on, making it the longest second innings knock in terms of minutes batted by an Indian player in Test cricket.
At the point of 29 Tests, Gambhir’s run-aggregate of 2760 was eclipsed only by Don Bradman (3887), Everton Weekes (2918) and Neil Harvey (2762). Among Indian players, Virender Sehwag stood a distant second with 2512 runs. No Indian batsman averaged better than Gambhir’s 57.50 while his nine hundreds were matched only by Sunil Gavaskar at the same stage of the respective careers.
|First 29 Tests||Nov 2004 – Jan 2010||52||2760||57.50||9||11||206|
|Last 29 Tests||Feb 2010 – Nov 2016||52||1394||27.33||0||11||93|
His downfall in Test cricket started in the 2010 home series against South Africa, and in the 29 matches since he averaged less than half of what he averaged in the first half and also failed to register a three-figure knock. After indifferent returns in India’s disastrous tours to England and Australia in 2011-12 and the home loss to England, he was dropped from the Test side. He made two unsuccessful comebacks to the side scoring one fifty in four Tests before getting dropped for the final time in 2016/17 home season.
Gambhir’s success with the bat often coincided with favourable results for India. None of his nine Test centuries resulted in a loss – four in wins and five in drawn games. Only Sourav Ganguly (16) and Gundappa Vishwanath (14) have scored more Test hundreds for India with none coming in a losing cause, while Ajinkya Rahane also has scored nine.
The dynamic Sehwag – Gambhir pair
Gambhir formed a devastating pair with his Delhi teammate Sehwag at the top of the order for India. Their contrasting styles reaped rich dividends for India during their reign as the world’s best Test team. As a pair, they aggregated 4412 runs from 87 stands for the opening wicket which is only behind that of 6920 partnership runs by Sachin Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid among Indian pairs. Among the opening pairs, the Sehwag-Gambhir pair is the fifth best in terms of runs tally with 11 100-plus stands and 25 fifty-plus stands.
Most successful opening pairs in Tests
|G Greenidge – D Haynes||WI||148||6482||298||47.31||16||26|
|M Hayden – J Langer||Aus||113||5655||255||51.88||14||24|
|A Cook – A Strauss||Eng||117||4711||229||40.96||12||18|
|M Atapattu – S Jayasuriya||SL||118||4469||335||40.26||9||24|
|G Gambhir – V Sehwag||Ind||87||4412||233||52.52||11||25|
|M Slater – M Taylor||Aus||78||3887||260||51.14||10||16|
|Bill Lawry -Bob Simpson||Aus||62||3596||382||60.94||9||18|
|J Hobbs – H Sutcliffe||Eng||38||3249||283||87.81||15||10|
|C Chauhan – S Gavaskar||Ind||59||3010||213||53.75||10||10|
A rock in ODIs on which India built their two biggest wins in the 2000s
Like his Test career, Gambhir started slowly in ODIs as well, averaging just above 30 from 37 matches till the end of 2007. He turned a corner during India’s successful campaign in the tri-series Down Under in 2007/08 which succeeded an acrimonious Test series between India and Australia. He ended up as the leading run-getter in the series scoring 440 runs in 10 games at 55.00, including two centuries.
In the period between January 2008 and December 2012, he was among the leading run-getters in the world in the 50-over format. He was one of the four players to aggregate over 4000 runs behind that of Kumar Sangakkara (4898), Tillakaratne Dilshan (4274) and MS Dhoni (4042). The highlight of this period undoubtedly was the World Cup final of 2011 where he top-scored with 97 in a steep run-chase. He finished the tournament with 393 runs in nine innings at 43.66 with four half-centuries, only behind that of Sachin Tendulkar’s tally of 482 runs for India.
Most runs in ODI between Jan 2008 & Dec 2012
He formed a formidable top order with Sehwag, and as an opening pair, the duo averaged 50.54 – which happens to be the second best for an opening pair with 1500-plus partnership runs after Desmond Haynes and Gordon Greenidge. He also gelled well with another of his Delhi teammates, Virat Kohli, as the pair aggregated 2000 partnership runs in 35 innings at 60.61, including a then world-record of three 200-plus stands.
His ODI career ended abruptly after twin failures against Pakistan and England at home in the 2012/13 season, scoring just 161 runs in eight innings with a solitary fifty. He was overlooked for the Champions Trophy in England later that year where Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan established themselves as the India’s first choice opening pair.
An IPL legend in more ways than one
The IPL was a tournament built largely on India’s success in the first-ever World T20 in South Africa in 2007. Gambhir led India’s batting with 227 runs, finishing the tournament as the second highest run-getter behind Matthew Hayden (265). Just like in the World Cup final of 2011, he top-scored for India in the final with a 54-ball 75 in a total of 157.
He was bought by Delhi Daredevils in the IPL auctions in 2008 for USD 725,000 and held the possession of Orange Cap (tournament’s leading run scorer) for the bulk of the inaugural IPL season before finishing second behind Shaun Marsh (618 runs) with a tally of 534 runs. In 2011, he moved to Kolkata Knight Riders, who were the only side not to finish in the top four in the first three seasons. In his second year with them in 2012, he led them to the title win scoring 590 runs in the process and ending up as the franchise’s leading run-getter of the season.
He hangs his boots as IPL’s fourth highest run-getter with 4217 runs, behind Suresh Raina (4985), Kohli (4948) and Rohit Sharma (4493). He sits on top of fifty-plus scores with 36 along with David Warner. Despite opening the batting for the majority of his career, he finishes his T20 career without a hundred. In fact, his T20 aggregate of 6402 runs with a highest of 93 in IPL 2012 is the fourth most for a player without a century in the shortest format.
Gambhir will finally walk into sunset and will always be remembered as the rock at the top of the order in India’s most dominant era on which they built some of their most cherished wins – be it the CB Series win Down Under in 2008, World Cup title in 2011 or their stint as the top-ranked Test team in the world.