Gambhir happy to buck trends in comeback bid

Described by Sehwag as the best Indian opener since Sunil Gavaskar, Gambhir has fallen out of favour with selectors

Reuters July 03, 2015
Gambhir was India's top-scorer in the 2011 World Cup final victory. PHOTO: REUTERS

NEW DELHI: Gymnastics and mixed martial arts do not come naturally to Indian batsmen but former opener Gautam Gambhir, toiling in Perth to revive his international career, does not mind giving them a try if it helps get him back to the top.

Once described by former batting partner Virender Sehwag as the best Indian opener since Sunil Gavaskar, Gambhir has fallen out of favour with selectors and spent 20 months in the wilderness before making a brief comeback in England last year.

However, a highest score of 18 in four innings banished Gambhir back to test exile, with many blaming the 2009 ICC Test Player of the Year's decline to technical flaws, especially a penchant for poking at deliveries outside off-stump.

"I know there is a talk about that but I don't see it as a demon to be honest," the 33-year-old Gambhir told Reuters in an email interview.

"It's a mode of dismissal that a lot of left-handers go through and so do right-handers when they face left-arm quicks bowling over the wicket," said Gambhir, currently training under the watchful eye of former Australia opener Justin Langer.

"It's not about ironing the flaws. In fact, I want to take my game to invincible levels. That is why I am here," he said of his stint under Langer, also coach of Western Australia.

"My schedule here is revolved around a lot of batting in the nets and facing up to the Western Australia bowlers. I also did a bit of mix martial arts and gymnastics, which was fun."

In a way, it seems almost natural that Gambhir should turn to another gutsy left-handed opener to revive his career.

"Similarities yes, but it was more a case of me relating to his ideology and philosophy," the Delhi-born player said.

"I met him during the last Champions League and we spoke about the art, the science and the joy of batting.

"That meeting helped me understand him better and after this year's IPL, I wanted to work on my game and thought Justin Langer will be the best man for that," said Gambhir, who has scored more than 4,000 runs in 56 tests, averaging 42.58.

Hard Yards

The left-hander, who can effortlessly shift gears when on song, has also scored 5,238 runs in 147 ODIs averaging nearly 40 with an 85-plus strike rate.

Gambhir was India's top-scorer in the 2011 World Cup final victory but could not find a place in the squad for this year's tournament in Australia and New Zealand.

"It's like any other profession when you don't get good appraisals. You can brood over it but the fact is that you have to put in the hard yards to take the game to the next level," he added.

"It's not a setback. No one has taken my bat away from me. It's here with me and so is a burning desire to excel."

However, he dismissed suggestions that he might find it easier to break into the ODI side, in which Rohit Sharma, not a natural at the very top of the order, opens for India with Shikhar Dhawan.

"I think Shikhar and Rohit are doing a good job. I mean Rohit got two double hundreds and Shikhar had a decent World Cup.

"As far as my comeback is concerned, I am enjoying the journey at the moment without worrying too much about the destination.”

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