Gautam Gambhir: The unsung hero of Indian cricket who delivered when it mattered the most

The former Indian cricketer turns 39 today. He will forever be remembered as the one who delivered when it mattered in two World Cup finals.

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Gautam Gambhir was a part of the Indian team at a time when Indian cricket was brimming with legends. Each and every person in the team was a legend in his own right. This was probably the reason for Gambhir’s contributions to Indian cricket going unnoticed and under the radar. But Gambhir was not the type of cricketer that thirsted for attention. He went about his business in a silent manner.

Gambhir was someone who thrived under pressure. He was the one the team could bank on. And Gambhir delivered 99 times out of 100. He was always there for the team. He delivered when it mattered. In his career spanning, 13 years and a plethora of match-winning knocks, the ones that stood out were undoubtedly the ones in India’s World Cup finals, mainly because of the sheer intensity and the pressure situation in which the knocks were scored in.

On the occasion of Gambhir’s 39th birthday, we take a look at his knocks in the 2007 T20 World Cup final and the 2011 ODI World Cup final. Note that Gambhir top scored for India in both the finals but was not awarded the Man of the Match.

Gautam Gambhir’s knock proves to be the difference – India v Pakistan, T20 World Cup Final, 2007

India faced Pakistan in the inaugural T20 World Cup final. India decided to experiment by sending in Yusuf Pathan to open the innings and while the move seemed to be working for the first few overs, Pathan perished leaving his partner Gambhir to take the initiative to score.

Even as wickets kept tumbling at the other end, Gambhir kept chipping away with crucial boundaries. The likes of Robin Uthappa, Yuvraj Singh and MS Dhoni all scored at a strike rate of less than 100 before perishing. But Gambhir seemed to be playing on a different pitch as he hit 8 fours and 2 sixes in his 75 run knock.

The knock ultimately proved to be the difference as Pakistan lost a thriller in the famous Joginder Sharma-bowled last over. Irfan Pathan was awarded the Man of the Match for his 3 wickets but Gambhir’s knock was the difference between the sides.

Gautam Gambhir braves immense pressure to lead India to victory – India v Sri Lanka, ODI World Cup Final, 2011

In what was Sachin Tendulkar’s last World Cup, expectations were sky-high that India would lift the World Cup, especially considering the fact that India were hosts. In the final against Sri Lanka, Mahela Jayewardene produced a century for the ages to lead Sri Lanka to a competitive score of 274.

Chasing, India lost both Virender Sehwag and Sachin Tendulkar cheaply to Lasith Malinga. There was an eerie silence around the Wankhede Stadium. India were reeling at 31-2 when Gambhir joined hands with Virat Kohli. Gambhir then produced a gem of an innings. One that is etched in Indian hearts forever. A fighting knock in adversity.

After Kohli’s dismissal, Gambhir joined hands with MS Dhoni who had promoted himself up the order. The duo then punished the Sri Lanka bowlers through excellent stroke-play to lead India closer to the target. Gambhir then perished 3 runs short of a century but Dhoni finished the game off in style to win India the match and himself the ‘Man of the Match’.

Although, Gambhir has played a plethora of such stunning knocks, these two take the cake for being his best knocks solely because of the grandness of the stage in which they came in.

Also Read: A look at Hardik Pandya’s best performances

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