“What’s the reason behind your phenomenal run after the T20 World Cup?” someone asked Gautam Gambhir during the ICC awards function in Karachi last year. “Virender Sehwag gave me his autographed bat and I scored all those runs with it,” pat came the reply from Gambhir. Initially, many thought Gambhir was joking, but the seriousness on his face dispelled all such notions.
That particular public acknowledgement of Sehwag’s contribution to his success became the precursor to many subsequent occasions where the duo credited each other for the success they have had ever since they started playing together for India.
While Sehwag’s presence at the other end is assuring for Gambhir and helps him settle down, the composure and solidity of the left-hander allow Sehwag to play the daredevil. While Sehwag is Gambhir’s ‘favourite’ batsman, the former finds the left-hander the best opener India has had after Gavaskar.
So, it’s common to hear Gambhir crediting his success to Sehwag’s presence at the other end, but the other day he found even Sehwag’s absence as inspiring as is his presence for him.
The left-hander scored his first 50 of the IPL and promptly attributed it to Sehwag’s absence from the team, who is out with a finger injury. “I think his absence was a blessing in disguise for me. The fact that he wasn’t there made me even more responsible. I tend to go a bit overboard when he is there. So, with him not being there, I told myself that I needed to play a long innings,” explained Gambhir. Well, trust Gambhir to draw inspiration from Sehwag in as many ways as possible.
On another occasion, when asked about how he was enjoying the captaincy, Gambhir made it a point to stress who the actual captain is before coming to his own experiences. “Well, Sehwag is the actual captain and a fantastic one at that. Once he’s back, he would take the team even further,” he said, before letting everyone know that he too was enjoying the captaincy.
No wonder, Sehwag is showing no urgency to rush back to action with Gambhir doing the job on his behalf.