The high points of Gautam Gambhir’s career are a stuff every aspiring cricketer dreams of. Top scorer in two World Cups, winner of two IPL titles with Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR), one of the most prolific opening pairs in world cricket alongside the great Virender Sehwag. The list goes on and on.
On Sunday, the combative former Team India player made his exit from the game as the Ranji Trophy match between his native Delhi and Andhra drew to a close.
The match ended in a dull stalemate at the Feroz Shah Kotla Stadium. The match itself however, faded into inconsequence as Gambhir was at the centre of attention of the spectators present in the stadium.
He made the occasion a memorable one, top scoring with 112 in Delhi’s first innings.
The 37-year-old has an enviable record. He has played 58 Tests (4154 runs), 147 One-Day Internationals (5238 runs) and 37 Twenty20 Internationals. He has also played 197 first-class matches.
But apart from the statistics, what fans will remember most is his combative attitude, the never-say-die spirit which stood out during those nerve wracking run chases or when the going became tough.
These qualities were on full display during two of the most memorable occasions for Indian cricket since the World Cup triumph in 1983 — winning the 2007 World Twenty20 and the 2011 ODI World Cup.
He played an integral part in India’s wins in both finals. At the the 2007 World Twenty20 final against arch-rivals Pakistan, he top scored with 75 runs from 54 balls.
He was the top scorer in the 2011 World Cup final as well with a composed 97 from 122 deliveries as India pulled off an exciting chase against Sri Lanka in Mumbai.
Gambhir is also the lone Indian and only one of four cricketers to have scored hundreds in five consecutive Test matches. He is the also the only Indian batsman to score in excess of 300 runs in four consecutive Test series.
But even before he announced his retirement earlier in the week, the signs were there for the past couple of years.
Gambhir did not exactly see eye to eye with India captain Virat Kohli which played a part in his exit from the national squad. He also struggled in the Indian Premier League (IPL) in recent times and his last season after returning to the Delhi Daredevils was not a very memorable one.
On Sunday, as Gambhir walked off the field and into the sunset, the curtains came down on a glorious career. Indian fans, perhaps even several around the cricketing world will miss one of the most exciting and talented batsmen of his generation.